Understanding Diet & Nutrition

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How Your Brain Signals Your Body's Need for Food

You may think that hunger is all in your stomach and that dieting is all in your head. But nutrition experts know that hunger is regulated by a complex system of chemicals that send signals between your [more…]

Toxic Minerals to Avoid in Food and Environment

Many minerals are an essential part of a healthy diet. Other minerals are toxic even in tiny amounts, leading to nerve dysfunction and memory loss, a weakened immune system, and even kidney damage. [more…]

How Much Protein Do You Need in Your Diet?

A normal American diet generally provides sufficient protein, so protein deficiencies are rare in the United States. The National Academy of Sciences Food and Nutrition Board sets requirements [more…]

Carbohydrates Do More Than Make Energy for Your Body

Making energy isn’t the only thing your body does with the carbohydrate nutrients in your diet. Carbohydrates also protect your muscles. When you need energy, your body looks for glucose from carbohydrates [more…]

How Your Healthy Body Relies on Electrolytes

Many mineral nutrients essential to a healthy diet — including calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium — form compounds that dissolve into charged particles. But nutritionists generally use the term electrolyte [more…]

How Your Body Processes Alcohol

Food in your diet must be digested before being absorbed by your cells, but alcohol included in your diet flows directly through your body’s membranes into your bloodstream, which carries alcohol to nearly [more…]

Magnesium: The Anti-Stress Nutrient

Magnesium may be the most commonly deficient mineral in human nutrition, even though dietary sources of this nutrient abound. Because it is the calming or anti-stress mineral, it’s very important to many [more…]

What Minerals Are Essential to a Healthy Diet?

Minerals are an essential part of a healthy diet. These inorganic nutrients occur naturally in nonliving things, such as rocks and metal ores. You get essential minerals by including plants in your diet [more…]

Why You Need Protein in Your Diet

Protein is an essential nutrient found in animal products, nuts, and beans. The name protein name comes from the Greek word protos, which means “first.” Your body uses proteins in your diet to build new [more…]

How Your Body Turns Carbohydrates into Energy

A diet that provides sufficient amounts of carbohydrates keeps your body from eating its own muscles. Carbohydrates are an essential part of a healthy diet because your body converts them to glucose and [more…]

How Nutritionists Measure Calories

Nutritionists substitute the word calorie for kilocalorie, which is really 1/1000 of a kilocalorie. Your body burns food to produce energy in the form of heat. Nutritionists measure the amount of heat [more…]

How Amino Acids Relate to Protein in Your Diet

Proteins are essential nutrients found in any healthy diet. All proteins are made of building blocks called amino acids, but not all proteins in your diet contain all the amino acids you require. Nutritionists [more…]

Boron: A Trace Mineral Necessary for Good Health

Boron is a trace mineral essential to human health and must be obtained from diet or supplements. This nutrient recently gained popularity after researchers found that it helps the bones use calcium. Increased [more…]

Relating Calories to Nutrients in the Food You Eat

Calories are simply a way to measure the energy in food and the energy released in the body. Although the technically correct name is kilocalorie, everyone, including dietitians, uses the shorter [more…]

Using Minerals to Improve Body Functions

Minerals are essential in human nutrition because they aid in a variety of the body’s functions. Your body does not manufacture any minerals, so you must get these nutrients from your diet and from nutritional [more…]

What Counts as a Food Serving, Anyway?

When considering your nutritional needs, the amount you eat is as important as what you eat. Because people have diets filled with restaurant and convenience store foods, it’s difficult to remember how [more…]

Bad for the Bones — Being Too Thin

You may remember the teenage angst of feeling "too fat," even when your weight barely touched the 100-pound mark. Teens today are as acutely aware of their weight, and many, if not most, teenage girls [more…]

What Affects Your Appetite for Food?

Nutrition experts tell us that the best way to deal with hunger and appetite is to follow your body’s natural cues. Your physical and psychological environments definitely affect appetite and hunger, sometimes [more…]

Calcium: Essential Nutrition for Teeth and Bones

Calcium is a critical mineral nutrient. You must include calcium in your diet because your body can’t manufacture it. Calcium is essential for the formation and maintenance of bones and teeth. [more…]

What Are Simple Carbohydrates, Complex Carbohydrates, and Dietary Fiber?

Carbohydrates are a necessary part of a healthy diet, offering your body nutrients it can convert to glucose to power muscles. Carbohydrates come in three varieties: simple carbohydrates, complex carbohydrates [more…]

Saturated, Monounsaturated, and Polyunsaturated Fats: What's the Difference?

What do the terms saturated, unsaturated, and monounsaturated fats mean to your diet and health? These words describe how many hydrogen atoms occur in a molecule, or fundamental unit, of fats and oils, [more…]

Lithium Deficiency May Lead to Mood Disorders

Scientists are uncertain whether this mineral is a required nutrient, but a lithium deficiency can lead to mood disorders. Most people take in about 2 mg daily from their diets, although no specific requirement [more…]

How Your Body Uses Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that promotes absorption of calcium and phosphorus. Most people associate the nutrient calcium with healthy bones and teeth, but no matter how much calcium you have in [more…]

Adding Fiber to Your Diet the Healthy Way

You find dietary fiber in all plant foods — fruits, vegetables, and grains, but none in foods from animals: meat, fish, poultry, milk, milk products, and eggs. A balanced diet with lots of foods from plants [more…]

Dietary Fiber: The Non-Nutrient in Carbohydrates

Nutritionists classify dietary fiber as either insoluble fiber or soluble fiber, depending on whether it dissolves in water. (Both kinds of fiber resist human digestive enzymes.) [more…]

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