The Science of Nutrition

Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats all contain chemical energy.  The cells in your body takes this chemical energy and stores it as ATP.  You body can then use the energy in ATP to fuel your bodies many processes.  Many vitamins, even though they do not provide the energy, they assist in the regulation of the transfer of energy from your food to your cells.

Calories are the amount of energy potential in each food.  Carbohydrates and proteins provide about 4 calories/gram, whereas fats provide about 9 calories/gram.  Even though alcohol is not a nutrient it still provides about 7 calories/gram.

There are many “claims” out there regarding nutrition.  How do you know which are true and which are just hype?

There are several factors when doing research and testing. Two types of research are Causative and Correlative. Causative is a direct cause and effect relationship. Correlative is when two or more factors are related to each other but not necessarily the cause of the other. Lifestyle, environment and genetics create a complex “correlative” interaction.

When researchers use participants in a study, they are part of an intervention study.  The participants who do not receive the treatment or intervention are in the control group.    Often a participant will experience the Hawthorne Effect; a change in behavior due to being part of the group.    Or, if the participant receives a replacement treatment without knowing it is a replacement, they will experience the same results as those receiving the actual treatment.  This is called the Placebo effect and clearly illustrates the strong mind-body connection we all experience whether we know it or not.

A disease is defined as any abnormal condition of the body or mind that causes discomfort, dysfunction, or distress.  Infectious diseases are caused by pahtogens (bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites or other microorganisms), are contagious, and tend to be acute.  Noninfectious diseases are not spread from one person to another, do not involve an infectious agent and tend to be chronic in nature.  Noninfectious diseases have replaced infectious diseases as the most common cause of death.

Two types of noninfectious diseases are autoimmune (when your body attacks itself) and chronic, degenerative disease (develop slowly and persist for a long time).  Chronic, degenerative diseases are among the most common and costly health problems today and are also the most preventative.  Most chronic, degenerative diseases are caused by a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors – particularly poor nutrition.

There are many risk factors related to chronic, degenerative disease:  tobacco use, lack of physical activity, poor dietary habits, excessive energy consumption and being overweight or obese.  Obesity is the cause of most health problems today and is becoming a health crisis of epidemic proportions.

Fortunately, taking personal responsibility for your health (exercising, eating a healthy balance of nutrients, vitamins and minerals and a healthy mental outlook) can greatly reduce your risk for disease.

By Angela Sladen-de Rox for

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