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Contribution of food to the vital functions of the body

The objective of balanced nutrition is to provide the appropriate amount of nutrients, in such a way that it does not exceed the necessary amount of energy since, if there is a lack, Malnutrition will occur, and if there is too much, Obesity will occur with all its consequences.

We consume food to be able to live and its main function is to provide energy, since all The physiological activities of the human organism require energy (breathing, heartbeat, thinking, etc.) Without energy we could not function, The physiological definition of death is a body without energy.

In this article we will refer exclusively to the macronutrientswhich are responsible for providing energy, but there are also the micronutrientyes, whose function is to facilitate the body’s metabolic processes (vitamins and minerals). Lately, a third group has been studied, which are the Functional Foods that fulfill, as their name indicates, a specific destination in some process in the body. We will see the last two later.

The energy value of a food is normally expressed in kilocalories (kcal). Although “kilocalories” and “calories” are not the same units (1 kcal = 1000 cal or 1 large calorie), in the field of nutrition they are frequently used synonymously, although always keeping in mind that, Unless otherwise stated, when talking about calories we are referring to kilocalories.

There are three types of nutrients that provide energy to the body and each nutrient provides a fixed amount of energy:

  • Carbohydrates: each gram of carbohydrate provides 4 Kcal
  • Fats or lipids: each gram of fat provides 9 Kcal
  • Proteins: each gram of protein provides 4 Kcal

Each of these nutrients is made up of a different structural unit, using a metaphor, they are like the bricks to a house. Carbohydrates are made of carbohydrates, fats are made of fatty acids and proteins are made of amino acids.

The same food can contain all three types of nutrients, although generally foods specialize their content in one of them; So, for example, we know that meat, eggs, chicken and fish contain more protein. Starches or flours and sugary foods have more carbohydrate content and obviously oils are rich in fats.

There is an ideal balance in the amount of each of these types of nutrients, such that Protein should provide 20% of the total daily energy, fat 30% and carbohydrates the remaining 50%, for a total of 100%.

In today’s modern world there is an imbalance in this 20-30-50 formula, and practically 60% of the energy is being consumed in carbohydrates (flour, rice, potatoes, cassava, banana, oatmeal, bread, sweets, biscuits , soda, honey), relegating fats and proteins to the background. Because of this, Obesity levels are increasing, since carbohydrates are converted by the human liver into fat and stored throughout the body.making the person obese, in turn this condition causes many of today’s diseases.

Now, the energy that is consumed is spent in three complex processes:

  • Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR): what it is the energy needed for bodily functions for life (circulation, respiration, digestion, etc.). It corresponds to 70% of the energy of a sedentary person
  • Physical Activity (PA): which is individual and depends on each personthe energy expended by a high-performance athlete is not the same as that of a sedentary person.
  • Thermogenic Effect of Foods (ETA): it is the energy necessary for the absorption, digestion and metabolism of the food itselfapproximately corresponds to 10% of daily energy

The objective of balanced nutrition is to provide the appropriate amount of nutrients, in such a way that it does not exceed the necessary amount of energy since, if it is lacking, it will occur. Malnutrition, and if there is excess, Obesity will occur with all its consequences. Besides, Ensure that the energy consumed is from healthy sources, in its proper proportions, and ensure that the quantity and quality of micronutrients is that we maintain good health.