What are essential nutrients? I’m sure you probably have heard or read about it in the past. “Meet the Essential Nutrients.” There are six classes; carbohydrates, fats, protein, vitamins, minerals and water. They provide energy, serve as building materials, help maintain or repair body parts, and support growth. Hence, nutrients help us maintain good health.
Essential nutrients are supplied by food because the human body does not make enough of these nutrients to maintain normal health. Scientists are debating if phytochemicals (figh-toe-chem-ih-cals are compounds in foods that gives color, taste and other characteristics) should be added to this list.
The study of nutrition is a growing science that continues to examine the relationship of food and drink to human growth. Since nutrition science is based on scientific discoveries, new information is always surfacing. Therefore, this week we may hear about a new discovery, and a few months later we may hear an opposing view about that same discovery. How do we know which information is correct? Here are a few tips to help distinguish nutrition facts from fiction:
Q1: When reading a nutrition discovery, ask yourself, “How many times has this experiment been tested?”
A1: Many scientists test the same experiment before it is published as a fact. Before an article is published in a scientific journal, it must be reviewed by their peers (peer reviewed). A factual article should state an accurate scientific peer-reviewed journal reference or refer to a well-known organization, government, volunteer health group or consumer group.
Q2: When reading an article, should the author’s credentials be checked?
A2: Yes, the author or physician should be a Registered Dietitian (RD), Registered Dietetic Technician (DTR), Public Health Nutritionist, a specialized Clinical Nutritionist or a Nutrition Educator. Also his/her degree should be from an accredited college or university.
Q3: Is the Internet nutrition site reputable?
A3: Look for .gov, .org or .edu sites. Check to see how often the site is updated and its rating on www.alexa.com, especially if the site is selling a product or if a fee is required to access. Review the National Council Against Health Fraud, www.ncahf.org or Stephen Barrett’s Quackwatch www.quackwatch.com.
Reference: Sizer Frances, Whitney Ellie. “Nutrition Concepts and Controversies” 2006.
In order to maintain good health, we must shop for good nutrients. Remember some foods have more nutrients than others, so read the “Nutrition Facts” labels located on the package.
Of course, if there are essential nutrients, there must be non-essential nutrients. Stay tuned to, “Meet the Non-Essential Nutrients.” We will also share tips on making healthy food choices and explore the often-asked question, “Do genetics have a greater impact on our health more than good nutrients?”
The information is not intended to diagnose any condition or illness. Always consult with your physician before changing eating habits or beginning any exercise program