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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Nutrition myths and interesting facts

We all know that word 'nutrition' relates to food and nutritious food means 'the food which provides us the necessary nutrients to stay healthy'. This article provides you information about myths and facts which everybody should know.
According to Wikipedia :'Nutrition/ nourishment or aliment is the provision, to cells and organisms, of the materials necessary (in the form of food) to support life.'
Another definition is: “Nutrition” is derived from “nourish,” which is from the Latin nutrire, meaning to feed, nurse, support, and preserve--literally, “she who gives suck.” Essentially, nutrition refers to the variety of ways the body makes use of food.

There are six major classes of nutrients: carbohydrates, fats, minerals, protein, vitamins, and water. These nutrient classes can be categorized as either macronutrients (needed in relatively large amounts) or micronutrients (needed in smaller quantities). The macronutrients include carbohydrates (including fiber), fats, protein, and water. The micronutrients are minerals and vitamins.

Myths about nutrition:

  • The Greeks and Romans regulated nutrition on the theory of the four humors circulating throughout the body (warm, cold, moist, dry). Classical physicians tried to correct an excess of cold and moist “humors” by providing hot, dry foods and vice versa. For example, a woman’s body was seen as wetter and colder than a man’s and, therefore, she was to avoid food that would make her even colder and wetter, such as fish, eels, and meat from newborn animals.
  • Many parents during the Roman empire who were influenced by doctors such as Soranus and Galen often denied their babies colostrum (protein-rich breast milk) believing it was too thick and not good for the child’s digestion. They regularly gave their babies to a wet-nurse (though the mother’s milk was usually the best) and were likely to wean their babies onto foods that lacked adequate nutrition, such as diluted cereals and mixtures of honey or wine with softened bread.
  • Most likely due to poor nutrition as children, many Greeks and Romans were shorter than people today. Men from Pompeii, for example, averaged 5 ft. 5-½ in. and women averaged 5 ft. 2 in.
  • The Ebers papyrus (1350 B.C.) suggests placing drops of crushed and roasted ox liver in the eyes of people suffering from night blindness. While Egyptians most likely were not aware of vitamin A, liver does have high levels of the vitamin which help maintains normal vision in dim light.
  • Alaska Natives have the highest rates of botulism in the world due to the way they butcher and store indigenous food (such as seals) under the ground in plastic bags.
  • A 1552 B.C. Egyptian papyrus provides an early description of what seems to be diabetes and specifically mentions polyuria (frequent urination). Up until the eleventh century A.D., diabetes was typically diagnosed by “water tasters” who drank the urine of those thought to have diabetes. Those who had sweet-tasting urine were thought to have diabetes mellitus (Latin for “honey”), or Type 1 diabetes.
  • Ancient Mesoamerican cultures such as the Olmec, Maya, and Aztec used chocolate as medicine and as a medium in which other medicines were taken.

Nutrition facts:

  • Salt is the most common seasoning mentioned in the Bible. Salt was a vital mineral that was not only essential to life, but also preserved other foods critical for survival. Salt was so important that it was also often used as a form of currency or as a unit of exchange.
  • Temperature can affect appetite. A cold person is more likely to eat more food.
  • Minerals constitute 4% of our body weight. Unlike carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, they do not furnish energy. Minerals include calcium, iron, and sodium. 
  • A deficiency of calcium/vitamin D during infancy or childhood results in rickets (deformed bones). The bones can become so weak that they can’t withstand the body’s weight, causing bow legs or knock knees. Once malformed, bones cannot be straightened. A person will usually swallow around 250 times during dinner.
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to anemia, neural disorders, and psychotic behavior. Women who are planning to get pregnant are encouraged to have healthy levels of Vitamin B12 to prevent potential birth defects.
  • Americans collectively consume approximately 900 billion calories each day.
  • In the United States, it is estimated that every adult unconsciously consumes one pound of insects each year due to garden produce, poor restaurant and home hygiene, and commercial foods for which the USDA allows a certain amount of insect fragments. Peanut butter, for example, is allowed to have 30 insect fragments per 100 grams.
  • Some children and pregnant women crave non-nutritive substances, such as paint, plaster, rocks, and dirt. These cravings may suggest the person lacks certain minerals, such as iron.
  •  Americans eat nearly 40 billion hamburgers a year.
  • An adult can starve to death within 8-12 weeks. In the final stages of starvation, adults can experience hallucinations, convulsions, severe muscle pain, and irregular heart rhythms. Organs weakened by starvation may actually burst if food is given too quickly. 
  • The best way to lose weight is to eat fewer calories and increase exercise. Experts suggest aiming for a weight loss goal of one pound per week.
  • Improved nutrition (as well as vaccinations and antibiotics) has extended the average U.S. lifespan from 30 to 40 years old in the early twentieth century to 70 to 80 years old today.
  • Two-thirds of Americans are overweight. Weight gained after one’s early twenties is linked to higher chances of suffering from heart disease, cancer, infertility, gallstones, asthma, and even snoring.
  • Eggs contain the highest quality food protein known. All parts of an egg are edible, including the shell which has high calcium content.
  • Okinawans are thought to live longer than any other ethnic group and they have healthier hearts and bones. This is largely due to their cultural practice called Hara Hachi Bu, which means they eat just until they are 80% full. Their diet is rich in complex carbohydrates and plant-based foods and is low in fat. They are also physically active. A person will eat an average of 35 tons of food in his or her lifetime, or 1,500 pounds of food a year.

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