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Nutrition is the fuel that runs our energy systems, the building blocks nurturing every cell in the human body. In addition, it is responsible for the production of hormones and the development of a healthy immune system. Nutrition is responsible for nearly every chemical reaction that occurs in the human body. Proper healing and immune functions require adequate nutrition, not only from a caloric standpoint, but also from a nutrient standpoint.
Nutrition is made up of macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients are water, proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Micronutrients consist of vitamins, minerals and conditionally essential nutrients. Vitamins can be further broken down into fat-soluble and water-soluble depending on how they are absorbed and transported in the body. Minerals can be broken down into macrominerals and microminerals depending on their level of intake and their content in the human body. Conditionally essential nutrients are nutrients that the body can typically make unless the body is under a great deal of stress, or has sustained an injury or illness.
Vitamins function as coenzymes, assisting enzymes so they may speed up chemical reactions. In addition, they act as antioxidants and help to express genes. Minerals in the human body function as structural components in the body, for example calcium in bones; coenzymes, maintenance of pH, electrolyte balance and nerve and muscle function. For example, some people get cramps when they work out and this can be due to the loss of electrolytes in sweat. The functions of conditionally essential nutrients vary depending on the nutrient itself.
My personal philosophy is that proper nutrition is extremely important not only to prevent disease, but also to treat nutrient depletion caused by disease. When our bodies are depleted of nutrients not only can we not defend or heal, but we are also in a state of physical weakness, making us more vulernable to illness. Fortunately in the United States most people consume enough calories, vitamins and minerals to avoid overt nutritional deficiency states. However, we are seeing a rise in various chronic diseases that are caused by subclinical nutrient deficiencies as a result of our poor food selections. While various supplements can help with nutritional deficiencies, food selection is first and foremost step in any treatment plan. Once this is has been addressed then supplements should be incorporated. Lifestyle modifications such as an exercise program and stress reduction, should also be introduced.