2 years ago, I was working as an Intern at a Hospital, so, my job was to analyse the conditions of all the patients and report it to the Doctor. I have examined thousands of patients but one day as I was on my daily round, I saw a patient whose body structure resembles a thin branch of a tree. It was quite astonishing to see that patient as I have never seen any such case ever before. On the whole, his Nutrition was improper and not sufficient for the growth and development of his body.

I went to the Doctor and described the condition of the patient so, he concluded that the patient is malnourished. I said to him, “I had previously seen many malnourished patients but this one was different.”

With a quirked smile on his face, He explained to me that in this case, the patient is suffering from Severe Malnutrition. He has no body fat because he might have been unable to eat properly for years. Because of hearing this, many questions begin to arise in my head. So, I took a notepad and noted down all the questions.

What is Nutrition? Why is it important? How can a person be declared as Malnourished? How is Malnutrition prevented? 

After ending my day’s work over there, I rushed to my home and besides not having dinner and sleep, directly jumped to my laptop and started searching answers for all the questions. Due to my constant efforts, I was totally amazed by getting the results. Nutrition is much more than what we know.

WHAT IS NUTRITION?

Nutrition

We know Nutrition as a study of nutrients present in the food but what we do not know is how our body utilizes them as well as the relationship between diet, health and disease. The World Health Organisation defined Nutrition as a critical part of health and development. Proper nutrition is associated with improved health, stronger immune systems, safer pregnancy and childbirth as well as a lower risk of non-communicable diseases like Hypertension and Diabetes Mellitus. We get energy and nutrients to be healthy by eating foods. The Nutrients in our food includes the following:

  • Proteins
  • Carbohydrates
  • Fats
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Water

PROTEINS

Inside every cell in our body, we find protein. To build and maintain bones, muscles and skin, our bodies need protein from the foods we eat to provide nutrition. We get protein mostly from meat, dairy products and nuts. We obtain full protein from meat and other animal products. It means that they provide all the amino acids that the body can’t create. Most proteins obtained from plants are incomplete. So, to get all the amino acids needed by our body, we should eat different types of plant proteins daily. Having enough of the protein in the diet is essential because our body doesn’t store it the same way as it stores fats or carbohydrates.

CARBOHYDRATES

Carbohydrates are the most important source of energy of your body. The digestive system turns glucose to carbohydrates which uses this for energy for your cells, tissues and organs. For times when needed, Extra sugar is stored in your liver and muscles.

Carbohydrates are classified into simple or complex which is based on their chemical structure. Simple carbohydrates involve sugars which are present in foods like fruits, vegetables, meat, and oil. Complex carbohydrates include cereals, whole-grain bread, starchy vegetables and legumes.

FATS

Fat is something you need a bit of but not too much in your diet. Fats provide energy to your body and helps it absorb vitamins. Although fats are beneficial to your body, not all of them are similar. You should avoid saturated fats such as butter, Trans-fat which is found in products fried in partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs). Having too much fat will, of course, increase your weight. It has twice as many calories as carbohydrates or proteins.

VITAMINS

For the body’s growth and development, Vitamins are required. So, your body requires 13 different types of Vitamins and each of them has specific roles. Moreover, you can get all your vitamins from the food that you eat. Your body is also capable to produce vitamins D and K. If you eat a vegetarian diet, indeed, you may need to take Vitamin B12 in addition. You may get health problems if you have low levels of certain vitamins, for example, If you don’t get enough of vitamin C, you may become Anaemic. So, Eating a balanced diet is the best way to get enough vitamins for your body.

MINERALS

Unquestionably, Minerals are essential to keep your body safe. There are many different jobs for which your body uses minerals such as keeping your bones, muscles, heart, and brain to function properly. Additionally, Minerals are important for the production of enzymes and hormones too.

Minerals are of two types, Macrominerals and Trace Minerals. Larger quantities of macro minerals are required and they include calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, chloride, potassium, and sulphur, correspondingly trace minerals are needed in small quantities and it contains iron, manganese, copper, iodine, zinc, cobalt, fluoride, and selenium.

WATER

Undoubtedly It is necessary for us to drink water. How much you need depends on your size, the level of activity you do as well as the weather you ‘re living in.

After surfing websites like World Health Organisation, Medline Plus, Medical News Today and Healthline in order to get details on all the nutrients available and their importance, I even searched for deficiencies which can be caused due to improper nutrition or Malnutrition.

DEFICIENCIES OF NUTRITION

BERIBERI: low levels of vitamin B1

ARIBOFLAVINOSIS: low levels of vitamin B2

PELLAGRA: low levels of vitamin B3

PARAESTHESIA: low levels of vitamin B5 leading to “pins and needles” feeling

BIOTIN DEFICIENCY: low levels of vitamin B7, which can be common in pregnancy

HYPOCOBALAMINEMIA: low levels of B12

NIGHT BLINDNESS: low levels of Vitamin A

SCURVY: low levels of vitamin C

RICKETS: severe vitamin D and calcium deficiency

After researching on the internet for 4 consecutive days, as a result of which, I made a conclusive report on why all these nutrients are important for our body and the deficiencies caused by them. Therefore, I showed this report to the Doctor of the Hospital where my internship was going on. For this reason, He was very happy and appreciated me in front of the whole hospital staff.

CONCLUSION: WHY IS NUTRITION IMPORTANT?

In conclusion, proper and effective intake of food and its nutritional management are both essential elements to ensure good health. In addition, smart food and nutrition along with a balanced diet can help to prevent illnesses. As well as, Eating the right foods will help the body cope with a continuing illness more effectively. So, understanding good nutrition and paying attention to what you eat will help you stay healthy.