Nutrition Lesson #1

What is Nutrition?

It is the science that links foods to health and disease. It includes the ingestion, digestion, absorption, transportation and excretion of that food.

First there is food, and then there are nutrients. Food provides energy through calories. Nutrients are the substances obtained from the food we eat that are vital for growth and maintenance of a healthy body. There are 6 sources of these nutrients. They are carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, vitamins, minerals and water.

I am going to go over each of these on a different day here. I will always link to the back posts so those of you that are new can catch up.

Today we are going to go over Carbohydrates or Carbs, so let’s jump in! Good things to know about them:

  • They contain 4 calories per gram
  • Include simple sugars (also known as monosaccharides and disaccharides) and complex carbohydrates (which include sugars along with starch and fiber)
  • They are the MAIN source of fuel for some cells, very important cells- brain, spinal cord, nervous system and red blood cells.
  • Our muscles are dependent on carbohydrates to fuel our physical activity.
  • They are required for the metabolism of fat. However excess consumption will store as fat.
  • They convert to glycogen and are stored in our muscles and liver

Now Simple Sugars are the basic unit of all carbohydrate structures. They are made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen molecules. They are easily converted to glucose in the body. Glucose, fructose and galactose are all monosaccharides. Disaccharides, which are just two monosacchardies bonded together, include sucrose, maltose and lactose. Here are some examples of what those are:


Glucose (aka dextrose)-the form of sugar our bodies use

Fructose-sugar found in fruits

Galactose-sugar found bonded to lactose in milk products


Sucrose-white sugar or table sugar

Lactose- sugar found in milk products

Maltose-sugar found in alcohol

You can find all of these on the nutrition facts label under “sugars” on your food products.

Now on to Complex Carbs, which everyone has been hearing about for a few years! But do you know what is considered a complex carb and what it is, exactly?

A complex carb is called such because there is more than sugar in the molecular make-up. These secret ingredients make it take a little longer for your body to convert the carbs into sugar. So what are these secret ingredients? Starch and FIBER!

Plants store starch in two forms that are digestible by the human GI tract. Those two forms are Amylose and Amylopectin. The first makes up 20%, while the latter is the other 80%. Fiber differs from these starches because the chemical links that bond the molecules together cannot be digested by the GI tract. If it can’t be digested, it cannot be absorbed! If it cannot be absorbed then…well lets just call that roughage! Fiber plays vital roles in dietary health. Obviously it will help keep everything moving along as it was designed to. In our modern day, with all our conveniences and pre packaged food, our systems get all gunked up. Fiber helps with this. Another great thing about fiber is that is helps us feel fuller, longer. Which helps with the munchies! Instead of reaching for the chips or the ice cream, grab an apple or celery and a bit of peanut butter.

How much fiber should you be getting a day?

Women should be ingesting 25g of fiber daily and Men should be ingesting 38g of fiber daily.

Sources: Bran, Oatmeal, Buckwheat, Cornmeal, Barley, Wheat Germ, Brown Rice, Yams, Sweet Potatoes, Whole Wheat Bread, Whole Grain Cereals, Shredded Wheat, Broccoli, Spinach, Green Beans, Peas, Beans, Lentils…basically if it is a whole grain or veggie, it is a complex!

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