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May 2017
Dietetics
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NUTRIENTS

The term nutrients refers to simple molecules (such as, glucose, amino acids, etcetera) and complex molecules (such as, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, etcetera) that our bodies absorb from the foods we eat and that are necessary for our metabolisms.

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CALCULATE YOUR FOOD REQUIREMENTS

You can check your Recommended Daily Intake (RDI).

The nutrients

PROTEIN

Proteins are essentially living organisms and they are the main ‘building blocks’ in the architecture of the human body (protein structures) and in the functioning of living beings (functional protein), for example, enzymes, hormones, growth factors, coagulation pathways, cellular respiration, carrier proteins, and so on. Proteins make up more than 50% of organic components in a human body and about 14-18% (according to age) of one’s total weight.

LIPIDS

Commonly called ‘fats’, lipids comprise of a large variety of molecules which have one, main characteristic in common: they are insoluble in water. Lipids carry out many important functions in the human body.

CARBOHYDRATES

Carbohydrates are chemical substances made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen and they can also be called polyhydroxy aldehydes and ketones. Carbohydrates have a dual function; plastic and energetic. They have a plastic function in as much as they play a part in creating essential structures for living organisms, and an energetic function because they provide organisms with energy to carry out different functions.

FIBRE

The term ‘dietary fibre’ refers to the non-starch polysaccharide components of cell walls, parenchyma, or other secretions from plant tissue, and lignin, which are all resistant to digestion by the enzymes in the large intestine.

VITAMINS

These are organic substances that are necessary, even if just in small quantities, for general metabolic reactions, for growth and for normal bodily functions. Vitamins can be liposoluble (soluble in fatty substances and solvents) and hydrosoluble (soluble in water).

MINERALS

Minerals are micro-nutritional substances that do not provide energy directly (unlike carbohydrates, lipids and proteins) but they are needed as they can cause reactions that free energy. The body cannot synthesise some minerals, thus it is necessary to consume them in our diet.

WATER

60% of our body weight is made up of water. This percentage is even higher during childhood and then decreases with age and an increase of fat deposits. Water is the main product of digestion, it regulates cell volumes and body temperature, it is essential for removing metabolic waste from the body and it allows nutrients to be transported.

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