A Christian Guide to Body Stewardship, Diet and Exercise

Chapter 2: Basic Nutrition 17 Introduction The simple fact that God gave food its flavor and human beings the ability to taste suggests that eating was meant, at least in part, to be enjoyable. Yet, God intended food to be more than just a source of enjoyment; it also serves an important and vital role in our overall health and well-being. For example, food provides the necessary nutrients the body needs to facilitate movement as well as the growth and repair of various bodily tissues. Therefore, when selecting foods to eat, it is important to consider which nutrients the body needs and not just how a particular food tastes. Nutrition is an interdisciplinary science that studies the chemical and physiological processes involved in digesting and delivering the chemical components of food to cells all over the body as well as how those components impact our health (Pope & Nizielski, 2020). An important component of food are the nutrients, or the chemical substances that are required for growth and proper body functioning. Our bodies can make many of its own nutrients, but other essential nutrients must be supplied by the diet because the body cannot make them (or enough of them) on its own. There are six major nutrients that the body needs and they are divided into two main categories: macronutrients and micronutrients. Although both need to be consumed daily for optimal health, the amount required of each differs significantly between the two categories. Macronutrients are required in large amounts because they provide energy (except for water), whereas micronutrients do not provide energy and are required in small amounts. All six classes of nutrients are important for normal body function and growth. Table 2.1 lists the six major nutrients by category. Table 2.1. 6 Major Nutrients Macronutrients Micronutrients Carbohydrates Vitamins Protein Minerals Fat - Water - Phytochemicals are another important component of a heathy diet. Phytochemicals, or phytonutrients, are chemicals found in plants that provide certain health benefits. An example would be anthocyanins, or the chemical that give berries their blue and purple hues. Anthocyanins act as antioxidants to provide a protective effect to cells to fend off oxidative damage (Pope & Nizielski, 2020).