Why is nutrition important?

Many of us discuss nutrition a lot - we talk about what we have eaten, what diet we are doing or what we are going to have for dinner. But, do we really know and understand why nutrition is becoming such a big topic?

What is nutrition?

Nutrition is a form of science that looks at interactions between different substances within foods, how they react with other substances and how this affects our maintenance, growth, energy, reproduction, and health status.

We are basically what we eat. Our whole body is made up of cells and these form the building blocks of every, organ, bone, muscle etc in our bodies. They communicate closely with one another and respond to different stimuluses. They are very adaptable and if they do not function correctly and efficiently then we can experience problems to our health.

Cells are formed of three main structures: they have a membrane, which is made from fat, a nucleus which holds the DNA and mitochondria which are its energy centres. Our cells are constantly regenerating themselves and it is important that they are provided with the right nutrients in order for them to achieve this. If we do not give them what they need, they will not develop into a healthy form.

The science of cells

Let’s focus on the three main structures of the cell and how our nutrition can help benefit them.

The membrane is made up of phospholipids and is embedded with proteins. It helps the cell signal to other cells and allows selective particles to travel in and out of it. We need a good cell membrane, as we don’t want unwanted particles getting through and we want to make sure it is able to communicate properly.

When we look at how diet can affect this layer it is important to know that phospholipids are made of fat. So it is important to have good sources of fat in our diet. We need the correct balance of fat to help keep the right consistency of our membranes. Omega 3 fats for instance play a big role in the forming of our cellular membranes, they are also highly involved in the way our cells communicate to one another. Most people tend to eat more omega 6 than they do omega 3. You may want to take a look at what fats you are eating to ensure you are getting plenty of omega 3 to keep your cell membranes healthy!

Proteins form an important role in the cell membrane, DNA and mitochondria. It is essential that you get a variety of protein into your diet as it is a great source of B-vitamins, which are essential for energy production in the mitochondria.

In addition it is really important to reduce your intake of reactive oxygen species, otherwise known as free radicals. These can cause havoc in cells and are very disruptive. You want to avoid lots of pollutants, toxins and be careful of frying foods in vegetable oils. You should also be aware of pre-prepared foods and microwaving. A good way of combating free radicals is increasing your intake of antioxidants.

How will this help me?

By looking after your cells you will be on a much better journey to optimal health. This is especially important if you already have a condition, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

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I am a personal trainer and nutritional therapist who has worked with the IBDrelief founders Seb and Emily to improve their nutrition and fitness.

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