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Nutrition is the science of food, the nutrients in foods and how the body uses those nutrients. It includes the process of ingestion, digestion, absorption, metabolism, transport, storage and excretion of those nutrients. It also includes the environmental, psychological and behavioural aspects of food and eating. The six classes of nutrients include: carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals and water.
Today we have identified compounds in plant foods called phytochemicals. Although not technically identified as a nutrient, these compounds have been associated with a variety of health benefits when consumed as part of a balanced diet. Examples of phytochemicals include lycopene in tomatoes, isoflavonoids in soybeans and capsacin in capsicum. Research of these compounds is showing phytochemical are an important part of a healthy diet.
Nutrition principles are applied throughout the life cycle from the time of conception to our later years. Areas of nutrition emphasis include pregnancy, infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood and the ‘older’ adult. The relationship between diet and health is strong. Diet is an important factor in heart disease, stroke, hypertension, cancer, diabetes mellitus and obesity.