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INTRODUCTION TO NUTRITION SCIENCE
Nature has provided a variety of foods for man to consume and be healthy. We consume food for maintenance of health, growth and to develop greater resistance against infections.
Foods contain substances called nutrients in varying proportions, which are needed for proper growth and maintenance of life processes. Knowledge of the functions of these nutrients and major food sources is necessary for man to formulate a nutritious diet.
DEFINITION AND HISTORY OF NUTRITION
Nutrition is defined as a science concerned with the role of food and nutrients in the maintenance of health.
Nutrition as defined by Robinson (1982) is ' the science of foods and nutrients, their action, interaction and balance in relationship to health and disease, the processes by which the organism ingests, digests, absorbs, transports and utilizes nutrients and disposes of their end product'.
Nutrients are the constituents in food that must be supplied to the body in adequate amounts. These include Carbohydrates, Proteins, Fats, Minerals and Vitamins. Nutritional status is the condition of health of the individual as influenced by the utilization of the nutrients.
The science of Nutrition has been developed by using the combined knowledge of the physical and biological sciences. Its application involves the social sciences related to man' s behaviour - Psychology, sociology, anthropology and economics.
Until World War I the significance of nutrition was recognized by a relatively small group of scientists and physicians. Since then, a wider awareness has developed on the role of nutrients in health of individuals and the economic development of the nation.
A great number of important discoveries and developments in this field have enabled health care professionals to understand the nutrient needs of people and the means of supplying them. It is difficult to set in a chronological order of events that show the development of nutrition.
Many aspects developed simultaneously or overlapped each other. Some discoveries went unnoticed for several years because scientific attention was occupied with other developments and theories.
Some progresses were stimulated by national emergencies. Others depended on technical development of the supporting sciences. Nutrition research in India, as beri - beri inquiry was started in 1918, under the guidance of Sir Mc Carrison at Coonoor in South India.
It has blossomed into an important national institution, at Hyderobad called National Institute of Nutrition. It is currently engaged in carrying out basic as well as applied research work in nutrition. This national institute comes under the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
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