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What is Nutrition?

Nutritional science, or more specifically, human nutrition, refers to studies that explicitly explore the concept of nutrition. Biomedical Egyptology studies report that individuals of African ancestry were pioneers of ancient nutritional science. Take for example, Imhotep the great Egyptian deity of healing or Nefertum the Egyptian god of health and beauty.

Currently, most nutritionists describe nutrition as the proper absorption and metabolism of nutrient rich food. Both plants and animals (and every sentient being that falls in-between) has a nutritional requirement. Plants need sunlight, carbon dioxide and water, in an effort to experience cellular growth and development. Humans need a healthy provision of essential nutrients such as amino acids, vitamins and minerals to survive.

In an effort to fully understand the concept nutrition, it is important to investigate the discipline of organic chemistry. Three classes of nutrient related substances that we will investigate are amino acids (protein) triacylglycerides (oils and fat) and carbohydrates (sugars).

Amino Acids

Hair and fingernails are external and visible structures made of proteins, which play an important role in almost all biological processes that take place in the human body. Proteins, meaning primary, are the most important components of all living cells. Protein consist of individual building blocks (parts), otherwise known as amino acids, which are arranged in long chains. Amino acids are also described as carbonic acids. (NatGeo, the Science Book).

It is widely accepted in nutritional communities, that the human body requires 20 different amino acids, however, the body itself can only produce some of these. The remainder would need to come from food, meaning a nutritious diet is extremely important for cellular growth and development. (NatGeo, the Science Book).

Take for example, hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a protein in red blood cells that transports oxygen. So reason follows, if your diet consists of healthy proteins (mainly found in food groups including black and green beans, lentils and uncooked green vegetables) then the 60-100 trillion cells in your body, will be generously supplied with oxygen.

Triacylglycerides

Next, we will explore the world of triacylglycerides (oils and fats). Triacylglycerides are basically three molecules of fatty acids, held together by a glyceride molecule. Triacylglycerides (such as Coconut oil, margarine and olive oil) are essential for the proper nutrition and holistic health of all living organisms.

Plants and animals all produce these hydrophobic (water-repelling) substances, which primarily serves as the structural elements in cell membranes, and also, as energy reservoirs.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates (sugar) are also referred to as hydrates of carbon. The most important types of natural sugar for human nutrition are pentose and hexose sugar.

A byproduct of photosynthesis is sugar. Photosynthesis, or the process by which plants utilize carbon dioxide, water and sunlight to generate oxygen and sugar, is essential for a plants cellular development.

The photosynthetic activities of plants, produce glucose and bond up to a thousand glucose molecules together into large branched structures, these are stored in the form of starch (otherwise known as energy storehouses).

Carbohydrates also serve as structural elements in plants and animals. For example cellulose, which is a component in the walls of plants, is made up of glucose/sugar units.

As it relates to human nutrition, the element that most frequently occurs in the human body is ribose. Ribose which is related to the carbohydrate pentose, is used as a structural component in the human genome deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). Ribose is also essential in human nutrition because of its role in amino acid (protein) transportation in and between cells, as well as for cellular information messaging.

Nearly all the 60-100 trillion of cells in the human body have carbohydrates and their derivatives on their surface areas. The best example is the structure on red blood cells. (NatGeo, the Science Book).

Carbohydrate is a very diverse and complex molecule. It has been one of the most popular nutrient of choice for decades. For example, sugar extraction takes place exclusively in Europe through the cultivation of sugar beets, and in the Caribbean, through the cultivation of sugar canes for centuries now.

In conclusion, nutrition is the proper absorption and metabolism of nutrient rich food. Some examples of nutrients are amino acids, triacylglycerides and carbohydrates.

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