Basic Food and Nutrition Guide Everybody Should Know

By : Paulami Ghosh | : 11 August, 2020
Basic Food and Nutrition Guide Everybody Should Know

Basic Food and Nutrition Guide Everybody Should Know

 The world of Basic Nutrition is a separate branch of study everywhere, from USA to India to Europe to Latin America. So, you have to learn what is meant by nutritional foods, the negative effects of under-nutrition on health, how to get a balanced diet. Balanced and nutritional diets are most important for your nourishment, not the amount of food your intake. Nutrition keeps your body mind soul fresh and young. This is far less costly and healthy than restaurant foods. So, learn and employ to increase your immune system also.

 Life can be sustained only with adequate nourishment which includes growth, development, productive and healthy life. The fact nutrition gained by applying the scientific method i.e. scientific method, hypothesis, testing hypothesis, under carefully controlled conditions, observing results and interpreting them. The science of nutrition had begun 18th century by Lavoisier, a Frenchman who is referred to as the FATHER OF THE SCIENCE OF NUTRITION.

Definitions of some basic terms of food and nutrition

 Nutrition: - Nutrition is the science of food, the nutrients, and other substances therein, their action, interaction and balance in a relationship to health and disease: the process by which the organism ingests, digest, absorbs, transport and utilizes nutrients and disposes of their end products. In addition, nutrition is concerned with the Social, economic, cultural, psychological implications of food.

 Health: - Health is defined by WHO as the “state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity.” So health includes optimal growth & development, ability to combat diseases, maintenance of structural integrity, the functional efficiency of body tissues etc.

 Nutrients:- Nutrients are the constituents in food that must be supplied to the body in the actual amount. These include carbohydrates, proteins, fats, minerals, vitamins and water. Nutrients may also reduce the risk of diseases.

 Bio Nutrition:- Bio-nutrition is a new approach to food science. It combines the basis of optimal nutrition and diet therapy. It also takes help from locally available organic resources It promotes to holistic health.

 Apart from Optimal Nutrition, there is another side of nutrition i.e. Malnutrition.  MALNUTRITION has been defined as a pathological state resulting from a relative or absolute deficiency or excess of one more essential nutrient. It comprises 4 forms:

1. Under-nutrition: It is the condition that results from insufficient food intake over a certain period. Example: anemia, protein-energy malnutrition etc. In most literature under-nutrition is used synonymously with malnutrition. In the Strictest sense malnutrition denotes both undernutrition and over nutrition. There is several parameters to measures undernutrition; these include body composition, clinical signs of deficiency, physical functions, metabolic process & dietary intake.

 The vulnerable group includes children in utero and within the first 5yrs, adolescents, pregnant & lactating mothers, and elders. The notion that undernutrition starts in utero is also supported by the high incidence of intrauterine growth retardation-low birth weight.

Risk factors of undernutrition: -   In the development of undernutrition the starting point is low dietary intake. This can be due to anorexia associated with infection, liver disease, neoplasia, starvation, drug interaction, upper intestinal disease, and malabsorption, water supply & sanitation, proper education,

 Consequences: - under-nutrition results in both immediate and long-term consequences. Let us see an example that will make it clearer.                                       

Under Nutrition

                                    Under Nutrition vicious cycle

Source: State of the World’s Children 1998, UNICEF 1998

2. Over Nutrition: - This is the state resulting from the consumption of excessive quantity of food over an extended period of time leading to the accumulation of fat that impairs health. The best example is Obesity. The crisis of overnutrition has increasingly been reported from countries where hunger is still endemic. These countries where children are at risk of undernutrition while higher rates of obesity have been seen among adults.

 Overnutrition increases the risk of serious health conditions including cardiovascular disease, cancer, type2 diabetes, hypertension etc.

3. Imbalance: - Imbalance may be of various types. A pathological imbalance is a condition emanating from a discrepancy among essential nutrients but it still may occur with or without absolute deficiency of any nutrient. It is intrinsically linked to DNA or birth such that nutritional imbalance is likely to be caused by the inability of our body to absorb certain nutrients; it may also result from a poor diet. Based on the nutrients in short or excess supply, imbalances create unpleasant side effects and conditions that could serious diseases. The nutritional imbalance may lead to a deficiency or overdose. These can include skin disorders, stunted bone growth, dementia etc. Moreover, nutritional imbalance affects total body health. Many of us experienced nutritional imbalance.

 The nutritional imbalance may happen due to some reasons like food sensitivity, unawareness, proper education regarding food items, socioeconomic status, environmental hazards, disease, poor digestion power, long period of stress, food allergies etc. Sometimes imbalance brought the inability to take and absorb food to an individual.

Signs & symptoms: Following sings can be diagnosed as a nutritional imbalance of an individual’s such as –      

  • unexplained fatigue
  • brittle hair and nails
  • poor oral health
  • lack of appetite
  • Improper sleep,

 Specific Deficiency:-  This is the pathological state resulting from a particular or relative or absolute lack of a specific nutrient. Example: Iron deficiency Anaemia, vitamin A deficiency xeropthalmia, iodine deficiency goiter etc. Only nutritional supplementation with a balanced diet promotes recovery.  Specific deficiency occurs when the body cannot absorb the necessary amount of nutrients due to some reasons.

 After briefing malnutrition, the population has to come out of this situation. So they have been recommending proper nutrition based on their requirements.

 So Nutrient requirements can be defined as necessary amounts for maintaining the normal physiological functions of the body.  Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) is being used to describe the requirement. 

 Recommended dietary allowances:- Recommended dietary allowances is defined as the average daily dietary intake level that is sufficient to meet the nutritional requirement of healthy individuals in particular gender and a particular stage.

 RDA= physiological minimum requirement/ fraction of the nutrients available from the diet * 1.25


Practical applications of RDA:- Recommended dietary allowances have several practical applications. Among them are as follows:

  • To provide dietary guidelines for the healthy living of a group and individuals to maintain a balanced diet.
  •  To assess the adequacy of national food supplies and to plan for food production both in terms of quantity and quality.
  • It is also used for the adequacy of intake of a person primarily.

 For the purpose of computing the total nutrient needs of the population at the national level, the concept of reference man & reference women is used.

 In this case, the reference man is between 20-39 years of age with normal weight. We assume that this man is free from disease and also, he is physically fit for work. It is also assumed that this man is employed for 8 hrs in working days. in an occupation that usually involves moderate activity. While not working he spends 8 hrs. In bed,4-6 hrs. Sitting and moving about and 2hrs walking and inactive reaction or household duties.

 Here the reference woman lies between 20-39 years of age and her weight is 50 kgs. She is engaged in 8 hours in general household work or in the light industry or any other moderate active work. We assume that she spends 8 hours in bed for sleeping; also, she spends 4-6 hours sitting in light activity and finally, 2 hours walking or in active recreation or household chores.

 Here we assume that the reference body weight of Asian adult man and women are 60 kg & 50 kg respectively for heights of 163 cm and 151 cm respectively. Bodyweight and height of children reflect their state of health & growth rate and for adult height & weight represent their normal growth.

                Reference body weights (kg) of different age group people









































Source: A report of the expert group of the Indian Council of Medical Research, 2000, nutrient requirements and recommended dietary allowances for Indians, ICMR.


About the author:

Paulami Ghosh
Paulami Ghosh
Nutrition Expert
Paulami has successfully completed her M. Sc in Food & Nutrition Science. She has...