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The 12 types of nutrition and their characteristics

The 12 types of nutrition and their characteristics

For humans, nutrition is the process by which the body takes advantage of the nutrients in food so that your body and cells stay alive and have energy. However, not only do humans need to nourish themselves but, for example, plants do too. Evolutionary, there is no single way to extract the raw material for what needs to be built from food; it is a complex process that has been modified over several million years of evolution. These processes can be different and, therefore, can be classified in different ways in types of nutrition.

Nutrition is a vital process

Food intake by humans is a vital need for the body. Good nutrition, that is, an adequate and well-balanced diet, is necessary for good health and to avoid physical and mental deterioration. This process provides the necessary energy to stay alive and allows us to carry out all the other functions of living beings. Food also provides the raw materials for the growth and repair of our bodies.

Difference between nutrition, food and diet

There is some confusion with the term nutrition. As a science, it includes the study of food and the processes involved in the use of its nutrients: digestion, absorption, and their assimilation in the body's cells. Nutrition, in reality, is an involuntary process, as it is too important to be left to its control: the physiological functioning of the body takes care of it. Thus, it would be wrong to speak of good nutrition or bad nutrition, because this would refer to food. Food is a series of voluntary and conscious actions that are aimed at selecting, preparing, and eating food. Diet is also often confused with food. Instead, diet is the eating habits of a person. Although this is associated with weight loss and control, the diet does not have to have any objection to affect body image.

Nutrition types

But ... what types of nutrition are there? In the following lines, you can find a classification of the different types of nutrition

1. Autotrophic nutrition

Autotrophic nutrition refers to feeding on oneself, synthesizing organic substances. In other words, it is the nutrition carried out by those living beings that are capable of producing their own food.

Plants are a clear example, as they feed thanks to photosynthesis. Living things that carry out the photosynthesis process are called photolithoautotrophs. In contrast, those that use elements of a chemical nature are chemoautotrophs. For example bacteria.

2. Heterotrophic nutrition

This type of nutrition is what living beings use that need an already prepared source of food. For example animals, fungi, and most microorganisms. Heterotrophic nutrition can be divided into several types :

Parasitic nutrition, in which the living being inhabits on or within another organism to which it damages and from which it obtains its nutrients by ingestion or by absorption; saprophytic nutrition, in which the living being absorbs the nutrients from the environment and breaks them down by means of enzymes to obtain the energy it needs; and the holozoic, which is typical of humans, and in which an organism ingests food in solid form and later digests it to obtain the nutrients it needs.

Holozoic nutrition can be classified in three ways :

1. Herbivorous nutrition: The body feeds on vegetables

2. Carnivorous nutrition: The body feeds on meat.

3. Omnivorous Nutrition: The body feeds on vegetables and meat.

Types of nutrients

Nutrients are necessary for the growth and health of the body. There are five types of nutrients that are divided into two large groups: macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients are needed in large amounts and include carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Instead, micronutrients are needed in small amounts and include vitamins and minerals. Water and fiber are not nutrients but they are necessary for the proper functioning of the body.

Below you can find the different types of nutrients.

1. Carbohydrates

Although carbohydrates have become the enemies of the diet to lose weight, they are essential macronutrients for the body, since they feed the brain and muscles. Carbohydrates are the best source of energy, and foods that contain them can also be rich in fiber, which is necessary for the intestine to function properly.

There are two types: simple carbohydrates (banana, honey, etc.), which contain one or two sugars; and complex carbohydrates (for example, brown rice) that are made of three or more linked sugars. These macronutrients provide 4 calories per gram, although complexes take longer to digest than simple carbohydrates and are more filling.

2. Proteins

Proteins are the structural nutrients to all cells . That is, they form what we could call the raw material of our body, the bricks with which it is built and reformed. On the other hand, they also help to repair tissues and fight infection. When consumption exceeds the body's needs, protein can serve as an energy source. They provide 4 calories per gram.

3. Fats

Fats, like the two previous macronutrients, also provide energy to the body and participate in the processes that keep the body alive. However, they provide 9 calories per gram . Although currently demonized, fats are essential to stay in good health.

On the other hand, fats have other functions in addition to energy. For example, they fulfill a structural role, offer a means of transport for certain substances, and increase palatability.

4. Vitamins

Vitamins are micronutrients that the body needs to assimilate other nutrients. Its functions are: participate in the formation of chemicals in the nervous system, red blood cells, hormones, and genetic material. They also participate in the regulation of metabolic systems and are necessary for the health and proper functioning of the body.

5. Minerals

Minerals give structure to bones, teeth, and nails. Like vitamins, they help enzymes in many processes in the body. Now, unlike these, they are inorganic substances that come from the soil, rocks, and water. Calcium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc or magnesium are some examples of minerals.

Feeding types

As has been commented in the previous lines, food is a series of voluntary actions that are directed to select what is ingested. The types of food that exist are the following.

1. Veganism

Veganism is the behavior of an individual who decides not to eat food products of animal origin or, in general, use any product that, in order to be produced, involves the death of animals. Therefore, a vegan does not eat meat and fish products, and they do not consume eggs, dairy products or honey.

In addition, in certain cases, products known to be condemning animals to death due to their production system are not consumed, despite being of purely plant origin.

2. Vegetarianism

Vegetarians are people who due to their ideology eat basically vegetables. Aside from strict vegetarians, there are also Lacto-ovo vegetarians, who eat eggs and dairy in addition to vegetables, and lacto-vegetarians, who only incorporate dairy into their diet in addition to vegetables. The idea is not to consume animals directly but to consume some of the products derived from their way of life.

3. Emotional eating

It is the diet that is associated with emotional and psychological problems. For example, when someone is anxious they consume more foods rich in fat, even automatically and without realizing it.

4. Sports nutrition

It is the diet that aims to increase sports or physical performance . For example, the consumption of carbohydrates to perform better in a marathon. It is also associated with improving physical appearance and bodybuilding.

5. Healthy eating

Healthy eating is the choice to consume products that are beneficial for well-being . For example, fruit or olive oil for its healthy properties.

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