Understanding Nutrition



Nutrition refers to the nutrients, nourishment or sustenance that food gives us. It is also referred to as the process of providing or obtaining the food necessary for health and growth.

Also, the branch of science that deals with nutrients and nutrition, particularly in humans is sometimes called nutrition is layman’s language.


A nutrient is a source of nourishment, a component of food, for instance, protein, carbohydrate, fat, vitamin, mineral, fiber, and water.

Macronutrients are nutrients we need in relatively large quantities.

Micronutrients are nutrients we need in relatively small quantities.


Macronutrients are defined as a class of chemical compounds which humans consume in the largest quantities (must be above a threshold amount) and which provide humans with the bulk of energy.

There are three main macronutrients: carbohydrates, fats and proteins


Micronutrients are essential elements required by organisms in small quantities throughout life to orchestrate a range of physiological functions to maintain health.

They primarily include vitamins and minerals.


All the living organisms i.e. plants and animals require food. These organisms need to take food by different modes of nutrition in order to obtain energy as well as the materials for growth and repair of damaged parts of the body. Nutrition is the process of taking food by an organism as well as the utilization of this food by the organisms.

We all know that the plants can make their own food through the process of photosynthesis; however, animals and human beings cannot make food for themselves. They obtain food from plants and other animals that feed on plants.

Green plants are autotrophic and synthesize or make their own food by the process of photosynthesis.

On the basis of their modes of nutrition, all the organisms are divided into two main groups – autotrophs and heterotrophs. Their corresponding modes of nutrition are known as the autotrophic and heterotrophic mode of nutrition.



All the green plants are called autotrophs. This is due to the fact that the green plants make their own food from very simple substances like carbon dioxide and water that is present in the surroundings. They do this by the process of photosynthesis. This mode of getting nutrients is called Autotrophic Nutrition.

Heterotrophic nutrition is the mode of nutrition in which organisms depend upon other organisms to survive. All animals and non green plants are heterotrophs.

The non-green plants lack chlorophyll which is necessary to carry out the process of food referred to as photosynthesis. Therefore, they depend on other organisms i.e. plants and animals in order to obtain food. The non-green plants, for example. Fungi, yeast, mushroom, bread mold, are called heterotrophs.

The four main types of heterotrophic nutrition are:

  1. Holozoic nutrition:
  2. Saprophytic nutrition
  3. Parasitic nutrition
  4. Symbiotic nutrition



My Plate is the latest nutrition guide from the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture). My Plate is a reminder to find your healthy eating style and build it throughout your lifetime. Everything you eat and drink matters. The right mix can help you be healthier now and in the future. This means:

  • Focus on variety, amount, and nutrition.
  • Choose foods and beverages with less saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars.
  • Start with small changes to build healthier eating styles.
  • Support healthy eating for everyone.

Eating healthy is a journey shaped by many factors, including our stage of life, situations, preferences, access to food, culture, traditions, and the personal decisions we make over time. All your food and beverage choices count. My Plate offers ideas and tips to help you create a healthier eating style that meets your individual needs and improves your health.

My Plate is divided into four sections of approximately 30 percent grains, 40 percent vegetables, 10 percent fruits and 20 percent protein, accompanied by a smaller circle representing dairy, such as a glass of milk or a yogurt cup.

My Plate is supplemented with an additional recommendation, such as “Make half your plate fruits and vegetables”, “Switch to 1% or skim milk”, “Make at least half your grains whole”, and “Vary your protein food choices”. The guidelines also recommend portion control while still enjoying food, as well as reductions in sodium and sugar intakes.


All food and beverage choices matter. One must focus on veriety, quantity and nutritious value of the foods being consumed.

  • Make healthy food and beverage choices from all five food groups including fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy to get the nutrients you need.
  • Eat the correct amount of calories for you based on your age, sex, height, weight, and physical activity level.
  • Building a healthier eating style can help you avoid overweight and obesity and reduce your risk of diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
  • Choose an eating style low in saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars.
  • Use Nutrition Facts labels and ingredient lists to find amounts of saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars in the foods and beverages you choose.
  • Look for food and drink choices that are lower in saturated fat, sodium, and added sugar.
  • Eating fewer calories from foods high in saturated fat and added sugars can help you manage your calories and prevent overweight and obesity. Most of us eat too many foods that are high in saturated fat and added sugar.
  • Eating foods with less sodium can reduce your risk of high blood pressure.
  • Make small changes to create a healthier eating style.
  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
  • Focus on whole fruits instead of juices.
  • Vary your vegetables.
  • Make half your grains whole grains.
  • Make a shift to low-fat or fat-free milk or yogurt.
  • Vary your protein in both sources and routine.


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