Carbohydrates supply the body with energy that is needed to sustain normal activity. Simple sugars are a type of carbohydrate which provide short-term energy. Another type of carbohydrate are the complex carbohydrates which provide sustained energy. Polysaccharide is another complex carbohydrate which is formed by combining long chains of saccharides. Fiber, or cellulose is yet another type of complex carbohydrate. It is recommended that complex carbohydrates should make up forty-eight percent of a person’s total calories. Proteins should make up twelve percent. Simple sugars should make up ten percent. Fats should only be thirty percent or less of a person’s total daily caloric intake.

Proteins are the second most abundant substances in the human body. They are major components of almost every cell and are sometimes called “body builders” due to their role in developing and repairing bone, muscle, skin, and blood cells. They are key elements of the antibodies that protect from disease and of enzymes that control activities in the body. Also, they are key to hormones that regulate body functions. Probably the most important thing about proteins is that they are the transporter of iron, oxygen and nutrients to all body cells and supply energy to cells when fat and carbohydrates are not available.

Lipids, or fats are highly misunderstood. They play a very important role in maintaining healthy hair and skin. Lipids protect the organs from shock by acting as a cushion. They promote healthy cell function and maintain body temperature. The two main types of fat which are in the food we eat are saturated fats and unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats are considered good for us, especially for those who are watching their cholesterol. They are derived from plants. Saturated fats come from animal products and are considered unhealthy due to their link to atherceclerosis and to heart disease.

Vitamins promote growth and help maintain health. They help to maintain skin and nerves. Vitamins produce blood cells. Bones and teeth are built by vitamins. They help heal wounds. Food energy is converted to body energy thanks to vitamins. Fat soluble vitamins, with the help of fats, are absorbed through the intestinal tract. They are A, D, E and K. Water soluble vitamins, with the help of water are absorbed and they are B and C.

Minerals help physiological processes in the body. Minerals help vitamins be absorbed. Minerals that the body needs quite a bit of such as sodium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, sulfur, and chloride are called Macrominerals. Minerals that the body only needs relatively small amount of, such as iron, zinc, manganese, copper, iodine, and cobalt are called trace minerals.

Water is obviously important since up to sixty percent of our bodies are made up of water. Water bathes our cells. It helps electrolyte and fluid balances. Water is an important part of blood and helps blood carry oxygen throughout the body. It also helps carry other nutrients to all parts of the body.

Fiber is important as the roughage to help move foods and nutrients through the digestive system. Fiber absorbs water which helps to soften stools, making them easier to move out of the body. By creating a feeling of being full fiber helps maintain weight and even lose weight. Foods like bran, cereal, and whole grain bread are insoluble fiber and have gastrointestinal benefits and help reduce cancer risks. Many fruits and vegetables as well as oat bran and dried beans have soluble fiber which helps lower blood cholesterol levels which reduces risk of cardiovascular disease. Fiber is thought to protect from many types of cancers, constipation, diverticulosis, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

There are 4 calories in each gram of carbohydrates. There are also 4 Calories per gram of protein. In fats there are 9 Calories per gram. There are no calories in vitamins, minerals, fiber and water.

A node your homework adventure!

Health: The Basics.  6th ed. by Rebecca J. Donatelle

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