During your undergraduate studies in Nutrition Science you will take a wide array of courses involving humans, the food we eat, and how the body handles the food we give to it. You will take courses in chemistry, biology, microbiology, mathematics,human nutrition, human diets, toxicology, nutrients, sports nutrition, food systems and food science.
Human nutrition refers to the provision of essential nutrients necessary to support life and health. Generally, people can survive up to 40 days without food, a period largely depending on the amount of water consumed, stored body fat, muscle mass and genetic factors.
Poor nutrition is a chronic problem often linked to poverty, poor nutrition understanding and practices, and deficient sanitation and food security. Malnutrition globally provides many challenges to individuals and societies. Lack of proper nutrition contributes to worse class performance, lower test scores, and eventually less successful students and a less productive and competitive economy. Malnutrition and its consequences are immense contributors to deaths and disabilities worldwide. Promoting good nutrition helps children grow, promotes human development and advances economic growth and eradication of poverty.
Toxicology is a branch of biology, chemistry, and medicine (more specifically pharmacology) concerned with the study of the adverse effects of chemicals on living organisms. It also studies the harmful effects of chemical, biological and physical agents in biological systems that establishes the extent of damage in living organisms. The relationship between dose and its effects on the exposed organism is of high significance in toxicology. Factors that influence chemical toxicity include the dosage (and whether it is acute or chronic); the route of exposure, the species, age, sex and environment.
Nutrients and Metabolism
Nutrients are the components in foods that an organism utilizes to survive and grow. Macronutrients provide the bulk energy for an organism's metabolic system to function, while micronutrients provide the necessary cofactors for metabolism to be carried out. Both types of nutrients can be acquired from the environment. They are used to build and repair tissues, regulate body processes, and are converted to and used for energy. Methods for nutrient intake are different for plants and animals. Plants take in nutrients directly from the soil through their roots and from the atmosphere through their leaves. Animals and protists have specialized digestive systems that work to break down macronutrients for energy and utilize micronutrients to carry out both metabolism and anabolism or constructive synthesis in the body.
Organic nutrients include carbohydrates, fats, proteins (or their building blocks, amino acids), and vitamins. Inorganic chemical compounds such as dietary minerals, water, and oxygen may also be considered nutrients. It is an essential nutrient if it must be obtained from an external source, either because the organism cannot synthesize it or produces insufficient quantities. Nutrients needed in very small amounts are micronutrients and those that are needed in larger quantities are called macronutrients. The effects of nutrients are dose-dependent and shortages are called deficiencies.
Food science is the applied science devoted to the study of food. The Institute of Food Technologists defines food science as "the discipline in which the engineering, biological, and physical sciences are used to study the nature of foods, the causes of deterioration, the principles underlying food processing, and the improvement of foods for the consuming public". The textbook Food Science defines food science in simpler terms as "the application of basic sciences and engineering to study the physical, chemical, and biochemical nature of foods and the principles of food processing".
The term "food system" is used frequently in discussions about nutrition, food, health, community economic development and agriculture. A food system includes all processes and infrastructure involved in feeding a population: growing, harvesting, processing, packaging, transporting, marketing, consumption, and disposal of food and food-related items. It also includes the inputs needed and outputs generated at each of these steps. A food system operates within and is influenced by social, political, economic and environmental contexts. It also requires human resources that provide labor, research and education. Food systems are either conventional or alternative according to their model of food lifespan from origin to plate.
In nutrition, diet is the sum of food consumed by a person or other organism.
Dietary habits are the habitual decisions an individual or culture makes when choosing what foods to eat. The word diet often implies the use of specific intake of nutrition for health or weight-management reasons (with the two often being related). Although humans are omnivores, each culture and each person holds some food preferences or some food taboos. This may be due to personal tastes or ethical reasons. Individual dietary choices may be more or less healthy.
Proper nutrition requires ingestion and absorption of vitamins, minerals, and food energy in the form of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Dietary habits and choices play a significant role in the quality of life, health and longevity. It can define cultures and play a role in religion.
Sports nutrition is the study and practice of nutrition and diet as it relates to athletic performance. It is concerned with the type and quantity of fluid and food taken by an athlete, and deals with nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, supplements and organic substances such as carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Although an important part of many sports training regimens, it is most commonly considered in strength sports (such as weight lifting and bodybuilding) and endurance sports (for example cycling, running, swimming).
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