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Nutrition Unit
Nutrition – is the study of food and how the body uses it.
Proteins- are the building blocks of your body. The cells of your body are made up
of protein. They come from animal sources such as milk, eggs, meat, and fish.
Some plants such as beans and grains are also a good source of protein.
Proteins are composed of small building blocks called Amino Acids. There are
combinations of 22 Amino Acids that form 100’s of different proteins. During
digestion, the body breaks proteins down into Amino Acids. Your body produces
14 of the 22 Amino Acids. The other 8 you get from foods. These are called
Essential Amino Acids. Food that contains all 8 essential Amino Acids are called
complete proteins. They come from animal sources such as: meat, fish, milk,
products. Foods that contain some but not all essential amino acids are called
incomplete proteins. They can be found in nuts, rice, beans and other plants.
Fats provide energy. They give you twice as much energy as carbohydrates. Fats
are found mainly in animal products, but fat is also found in some plant products
such as nuts and vegetable oils. Fats are necessary for the growth and repair of
cells. They dissolve certain vitamins and carry them to the cells where they are
Saturated Fats
Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and unsaturated fats are liquid at
room temperature. Saturated fats come mostly from animal products such as
lard, butter, milk and meat. Unsaturated fats come mostly from plants such as
sunflowers, corn, soya beans, olives and peanuts.
Four (4) Types of Dietary Fats
1. Monounsaturated = Lowers LDL (Bad Cholesterol) and raises HDL (Good
Cholesterol), Good Fat. Food that Monounsaturated Fats are found in:
Nuts, Seeds, and Avocado.
2. Polyunsaturated = Lowers LDL (Bad Cholesterol), Good Fat: Food that
Polyunsaturated Fats are found in: Omega 3 Fats such as Flax Seed,
Soybean Oil, Fish, and Canola Oil.
3. Saturated = usually raises LDL (Bad Cholesterol), Bad Fat: Food that
contains Saturated Fats are: Red meat, Poultry with the Skin, Whole Milk
and Butter.
4. Trans Fat = Raises LDL, (Bad Cholesterol) Lowers HDL (Good Cholesterol,
Bad Fat: Are worse than saturated fats. Food that contains Trans Fat are:
Margarine stick, Fried Fast Foods such as French Fries, Burgers etc., Baked
Goods such as Doughnuts. Increase the risk of Inflammation, Heart Disease,
Stroke, and Diabetes. Look for words on labels that read: hydrogenated,
partially hydrogenated, and shortening which mean Trans Fat.
Cholesterol is a waxy fat like substance found in saturated fats of animal cells,
including humans. You produce cholesterol and you eat food that contains
cholesterol. Too much cholesterol can cause atherosclerosis and other heart
LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein): is bad cholesterol.
HDL (High Density Lipoprotein): is good cholesterol.
LDL builds up on the artery walls and HDL takes the LDL out.
Sodium is a substance that is found in salt. Sodium in salt can be harmful to your
health. All types of salt are high in sodium. Kosher salt, sea salt, gourmet salt and
smoked salt all have about the same amount of sodium as table salt. They are not
the healthier choices. Over 75% of sodium we eat comes from processed foods
such as cheese, pizza, deli meats, sauces and soups. Packaged foods, ready-to-eat
foods, fast foods and restaurant meals are often high in sodium. Breads, breakfast
cereals and bakery products also contain sodium even though they may not taste
salty. Small amounts of sodium occur naturally in healthy foods such as milk,
vegetables, fresh meat and fish. Sodium helps to balance fluids and electrolytes in
our bodies. A product that is low in sodium is 140 mg or less per serving.
We all need some sodium, but most of us eat about 3400 mg of sodium per day.
This is more than double the amount of sodium we need. Healthy adults need
only 1500 mg of sodium per day. Healthy children need only 1000-1500 mg of
sodium per day. Eating less sodium can help you and your family stay healthy and
feel your best. Too much leads to high blood pressure, hypertension, heart attack
and stroke.
We consume an enormous amount of sugar, whether consciously or not, but it is
largely a misunderstood substance. There are different kinds and different ways
your body processes them all. Some consider it poison and others believe it’s the
sweetest thing on earth.
There are too many types of sugars (and, of course, sugar substitutes) to tackle in
nutrition so we are going to look at two that you regularly encounter and they are
glucose and fructose.
Glucose is a simple sugar that body likes. Your cells use it as a primary source of
energy, so when you consume glucose, it is actually helpful. When it is
transported into the body, it stimulates the pancreas to produce insulin. Your
brain notices this increase, understands that it is busy metabolizing what you just
ate, and tells you that you are less hungry. The important thing to note here is
that when you consume glucose, your brain knows to tell you to stop eating when
you have had enough. But, glucose is not perfect. There are many processes
involved when you consume glucose, but one that occurs in your liver produces
something called very low density lipoprotein (VLDL). You do not want VLDL. It
causes problems such as cardiovascular disease. Fortunately, there are only 1 out
of the 24 calories from glucose that are processed by the liver turn into VLDL.
Fructose and sucrose is the same thing because they are both highly sweet and
they both contain large amount of sugar substitutes. Sucrose is 50% fructose and
HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup) is 55% fructose (which is high compared to
normal corn syrup, but pretty normal when compared to sugar cane). The
remainder of each is glucose, which we already discussed. In most cases, fructose
is bad for you because of how it is processed by the body. Fructose can only be
metabolized by the liver, which is not a good thing. This means a greater number
of calories about 3 times more than glucose are going through liver processes and
that results in a much higher production of VLDL (the bad cholesterol and fat. It
also results in a higher production of uric acid and a lot of other things you do not
want which is believed to lead to stuff like hypertension and high blood pressure.
On top of that, fructose consumption negatively changes the way your brain
recognizes your consumption. This is because your brain resists leptin which is the
protein that is vital for regulating energy intake and expenditure (which includes
keeping your appetite in check and your metabolism working efficiently. As a
result you keep eating without necessarily realizing you are full. For example, a
soda containing high amounts of fructose (which is most non-diet sodas) will do
little to make you think you are full even though you are taking large amounts of
calories. You brain does not get the message that you really consumed much of
anything and so it still thinks that you are hungry.
Fruit contains fructose, but as any food pyramid suggested intake ratios will tell
you the USDA’s new food plate focuses on a more balanced diet, fruit is okay.
This is because fruit, in its natural form, contains fibre. Fructose does not provide
an alert to let your brain know to tell you to stop eating, but fibre does this to a
very high degree. This is why you can eat fruit despite the fructose content
without experiencing the same problems as drinking sugary soda. The same goes
for processed sugar. Sugar does not exist naturally as sparkly white crystals, but
as really touch sticks called sugar cane. It is not until you process the sugar cane
that you lose all the fibre it contains. Without the fibre, you only have the tasty
but problematic part of the original food. That’s why processed sugars can cause
problems. Remember the purpose of processing food is not for immediate eating
it is for shipping all over the country or even the world. To do this you obviously
cannot let the food expire or it will be useless when it arrives. Because fibre
causes the food to go bad much faster it needs to be removed. Additionally,
many processed foods are even worse off because of their low fat content. Low
fat content sounds good, but just because you eat fat does not mean you retain it.
Your body can efficiently process and excrete fat, so fat intake is not a huge issue.
Nonetheless, the past 40 years have brought us a low fat craze. Fresh food can
still taste good without a higher fat content, but processing low fat food makes it
taste like crap. As a result companies add a bunch of sugar (and often salt) to fix
the problem. This process essentially exchanges fat your body can actually use for
fructose – produced fat that it cannot.
Sugared beverages (soda pop) or processed drinks contain high amounts of
fructose and high amounts of sodium as well. Coke is a great example. These
types of beverage contain sodium that causes you to be thirsty and prompts you
to buy more soda to drink and makes you pee so you feel that you need to drink
more. So they add fructose to the soda to mask the taste of the sodium. Soda
contains no nutrients what so ever.
Avoid buying pre-packaged dinners whenever you can. Buy foods with more
fibre. They are likely to expire faster, which means, more trips to the grocery
The recommend amount of processed sugar per day that we should put in our
body is 40 grams or 10 teaspoons. The recommended daily sugar intake for men is
36 grams or 9 teaspoons. The recommended daily sugar intake for women is 20
grams or 5 teaspoons. The recommended daily sugar intake for children is 12
grams or 3 teaspoons.
Water is the single most important nutrient. Your body weight is 60% to 70%
water. You lose 2 to 3 litres of water a day and this must be replaced in foods and
liquids. Water helps regulate the body temperature. It is also needed for
chemical reactions that occur in cells. Water carries nutrients to the cells and
removes waste.
Minerals provide no energy and provide no calories. They regulate the activity of
the cells. Small amounts are essential for good health.
Functions and Sources of Minerals
Function in the Body
Food Source
builds strong bones and
Cheese and Milk
helps release energy from
Meat, Poultry, Fish
breaks down glucose and
Green vegetables, grains,
Proteins regulates fluid
and nuts
regulates internal water
Table salt and most food
Balance and helps nerves
regulates fluid balance
Oranges, bananas and
in cells
helps transfer oxygen
Liver, red meat, shellfish
in red blood cells
helps transport carbon
Meat, shellfish, and
dioxide, helps heal wounds
whole grains
Vitamins are needed for growth and repair of body cells. They have no calories
and provide no energy. Some are water soluble and some are fat soluble. Vitamin
B and Vitamin C are water soluble and should be eaten every day.
Functions and Sources of Vitamins
Function in Body
Food Source
B1 (Thiamin)
helps release energy from
Pork, legumes, milk,
B2 (Riboflavin)
helps breakdown carbo-
Eggs and green
helps release energy from
Milk, meat, whole
Carbohydrates and protein
helps in formation of
Fruits, tomatoes and
Hormones, bone tissue
helps produce normal
Butter, margarine,
liver and eggs
helps absorb calcium
Liver, fortified milk
C (Ascorbic Acid)
A (Retinol)
helps in blood clotting
Leafy vegetables
E (Tocopherol)
prevents damage to
Vegetable oil
Membranes and vitamin A
Carbohydrates are nutrients that provide you with energy. Simple carbohydrates
are sugar that is used by your body with little or no change in digestion. Examples
are fruits, honey, molasses, and milk. Complex carbohydrates contain more of
the other nutrients then do simple carbohydrates. They are nutriently dense.
They have a large number of nutrients for the calories they provide.
Fibre is a type of carbohydrate that your body cannot digest. It supplies no
energy. Sources of fibre are leaves, stems, roots, seed coverings of fruit,
vegetables and grains, whole wheat and whole grain bread, and unskinned fruit
are examples. If you eat plenty of fibre it will reduce the risk of getting some types
of cancer. Fibre helps remove cancer causing agents from the body; helps to
lower Cholesterol levels; expands in your stomach to make a person feel full. It is
a complex carbohydrate that has no energy which means no calories. Fibre also
helps to keep you regular.
Examples of Fibre enriched foods: Fibre 1 products (cereals) most berries, all
types of bran, wholesome whole grains, pears, apples, mangos, prunes other
fruits and vegetables.
Women should have at least 20-25 grams of Fibre daily.
Men should have at least 30-35 grams of Fibre each day.
Body Fat
What percentage of body fat should men and women have? Body fat percentages
mean different things on different levels. Five percent body fat can cause serious
health problems for the average person. Conversely 25% body fat can either be
healthy or unhealthy depending on your age and gender. Healthy body fat
percentage for men and women is quite different. Women should have a higher
percentage of body fat than men. Women are healthier with a higher percentage
of body fat. This is because women require higher fat levels for safe pregnancy.
For women between the age of 20 -40, 19% to 26% body fat is generally good to
excellent. For women age 40+ to 60+, 23% to 30% is considered good to
excellent. For men between the age of 20-40, 10% to 20% body fat is generally
good to excellent. For men age 40+ to 60+, 19% to 23%.
** Use the Fat machine calculator and BMI (Body Mass Index) and the website.
The website gives you information on what you should have for a percentage of
body fat and the machine tells you exactly what you are at for percentage of body