Teaching good nutrition and eating habits is important for teachers teaching physical education. Many common health problems can be prevented with a healthy diet. Childhood obesity and diabetes are on the increase in the United States, and states have regulated teachers to teach students how to eat properly to avoid these health concerns.¹
Dietitians are health professionals who specialize in human nutrition, meal planning, and meal preparation. They are trained to provide advice and management to individuals (for health, disease, and sports related reasons).¹
A poor diet can lead to serious harm on one’s health, including diseases like scurvy and kwashiorkor, conditions like obesity and metabolic syndrome, and chronic diseases like diabetes, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular disease.¹
There are six major classes of nutrients: carbohydrates, fats, minerals, protein, vitamins, and water. Each of the classes of nutrients needs to be consumed at different levels.¹ For example, it is much more important to consume large quantities of fats and carbohydrates than large amounts of vitamins or minerals. If one of the nutrients is consumed more than required, it can have negative health effects. For example, both salt and water, which are required for life in humans, can cause serious illness or even death if over consumed.
All of the nutrients provide energy for the human body to function except water, minerals, and vitamins. Most foods contain a mix of some or all of the nutrient classes.¹ Some vitamins and minerals can be stored in the body and used over a long period of time, while other nutrients need to be consumed regularly.
Carbs are what people normally refer to as sugar. They make up the large part of grains, such as rice, noodles, and bread. Glucose, refined carbs in the body, stimulate the production of insulin in the body’s pancreas. Too many carbs can cause too much insulin to be produced, which can be disastrous to a person’s health.
Fats can be classified as saturated or unsaturated depending on the structure of fatty acids. Saturated fats are typically from animals and have been consumed for millions of years. Unsaturated fats come from plants and are considered healthier. Trans fat is a type of unsaturated fat that is rare in nature and in foods from natural sources. They are created by industrial processes (i.e. processed foods) and should be avoided as much as possible.
Proteins are the basis of many animal body structures. Many proteins cannot be stored in the body and need to be eaten consistently. Sources of protein include meats, tofu, soy, eggs, legumes, and dairy products.
1. Government of Canada. The Nutrition Facts table. Retrieved May 14, 2014, from http://www.healthycanadians.gc.ca/eating-nutrition/label-etiquetage/nutrition-fact-valeur-nutritive-eng.php
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