Nutrition and what does it mean?
The food we consume provides us with energy and nourishment for our body to grow and stay healthy. This process of incorporating and consuming adequate Nutrients for sustenance is called Nutrition.
The compounds which make us stay healthy and fit along with being essential for our growth, development, immunity, wear and tear are called Nutrients. Nutrients generally fall under Carbohydrates, Fats, Proteins, Vitamins and Minerals. They play a major role in a person’s health and the cause and effect of diseases.
Personalized Nutrition and its Need
- The requirement of nutrients varies person to person due to factors like Age, Gender, Height, Weight, etc. Nutrient requirement varies from age to age. It is calculated by various formulas which consider gender, weight and height to obtain individualized requirements of energy. Individualization is necessary for obtaining optimum health and weight status.
- Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) given by National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) are also referred with respect to age group to meet individual nutritional requirements. Certain Nutrients are required more or less in females than males. Eg: Iron requirement is usually higher in females while protein requirement is higher in males.
- Physiological Conditions like pregnancy/lactation, Overall Health and present nutritional status and Disease conditions also affect our daily requirements.
- Religion and Culture also play a very important role in overall food habits, food choices and preference which also affects factors which needs to be considered for diet planning.
- Food availability, Meal Frequency and daily busy schedules along with Purchasing Power affect one’s choice in Nutrients procured. E.g. In the low income strata, price remains an important factor or deciding food items. Lack of time available for cooking can influence foods choices increasing purchase of cooked / ready to eat/ ready to cook foods. Also Meal frequency affects distribution of calories and nutrients since few nutrients are better absorbed on empty stomach and in acidic environment. Fewer but larger meals also requires a well calculated plan since nutrients especially minerals and vitamins compete for sites of absorption which can lead to micro-nutrient deficiencies in long run.
- Physical activity, Lifestyle of a person whether Sedentary or Active, inclusion of exercise impacts to a large extent your daily nutrient requirements. E.g. Individuals, who exercise regularly in a gym or even walking regularly, burn their excess calories efficiently and affects nutrient requirements which if carefully considered can help to keep them fit, lean and healthy.
- Some individuals have a higher/lower tendency to absorb and utilize nutrients than others and the nutrients required vary for them. E.g. People with lactose/ gluten intolerance, IBS, IBD and other mal-absorptive disorders can severely affect absorption of nutrients which require careful incorporation of those nutrients in diet.
All of the above points and factors are considered and put to use whilst preparing and designing an individualized, realistic and sustainable diet chart with adequate nutrients required as per their body’s needs with the help of a Qualified and Certified Nutritionist. A qualified nutritionist will design a tailor made diet chart which satisfies most important aspects of improving nutrition:
- It meets daily requirement
- Design meal pattern that suits family needs
- Saves time and energy by incorporating simply and nutritious recipes.
- Considers economic status
- Provides maximum nutrients
- Considers individual likes and dislikes
- Provides Variety
- Gives satiety
- Considers Food availability
- Considers health value of foods.
A single diet chart/ generalized diet pattern thus cannot suit everyone. If you are following any such diet that’s not meant for you, remember that it’s not going to be beneficial for you in long run! We will look in upcoming blog, impact of lack of daily nutrition caused due to lack of consideration of such factors maintaining nutritional status.