1.1BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Good nutrition is necessary for good health and concern with food is important if certain illnesses are to be prevented. Good nutrition is closely associated with good health – how you look and feel, how well you perform mentally and physically at work or at home. The body is made up of many materials. These can be supplied by a wide variety of foods to ensure good health. The body is, broadly speaking, the product of its nutrition. You are what you eat. Therefore, it is important that daily decision-making on this important aspect of health be properly guided and should not be based on wrong influences. A person’s diet is made up of the food they eat. Nutrition is the way that food people eat nourishes their bodies. Good nutrition means your body is getting all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals it needs to work at its best level. Eating a healthy diet is your main way to get good nutrition.
These diets should maintain growth, encourage health and be satisfying, as nutrition for undergraduates is important to the way their bodies are shaped for the rest of their lives. Nutrition is what you eat and how your body uses it. It is your total daily food intake transformed into physical appearance, energy, growth and countless other body functions. Happily, your nutrition is in your hands. Your decisions really count when it comes to the food you eat. Whether you buy and prepare food to be eaten at home or you eat out, you are faced with important food choices.
The basic function of food is to keep us alive and healthy to grow and to reproduce.
Food contains nutrients – components that contribute to, and in some cases uniquely provide for, biochemical and physiological functions in the body. Foods may also include non-absorbed components which may influence bowel health and function e.g. some phenolic compounds such as tannins and classes of non-starch polysaccharides (e.g. cellulose). Food may also include contaminants from unusual soil types or from industrial pollution. Heavy metals, radioactive isotopes, and microbial contamination all have potential negative health effects. Foods contain a variety of compounds which can be absorbed and which have important biological effects e.g. caffeine.
Different age groups have different nutritional needs and people’s diets should meet these specific needs. For example, the nutritional needs and diet of a pregnant woman are different from those of an elderly man. Likewise, an infant needs a different diet and nutrition than a teenager. Each of us has different nutritional needs, and these needs are constantly changing. Children’s needs are dictated, in part, by their growth patterns. Adult needs change with age. One set of rules simply cannot apply to everyone. In addition, factors such as a person’s height and current weight, current health status, and activity level also affect what kind of nutrients they need and how much they need.
Optimal nutrition is critical for the development, growth and overall health of undergraduates. It helps ensure optimal cognitive and physical development, prevent sickness and illness and promote overall well-being (Nicklas and Johnson,2004). Despite the benefits of healthy eating, only 30% of youths meet the dietary recommendations for fruits, grains, meat and dairy and 36% for vegetables (Munoz, Kerbs-Smith, Ballard & Cleveland, 1997), based on the Food Guide Pyramid. Further, 16% of youths did not meet any recommendations, and a merger 1% met all recommendations (Munoz et el, 1997).
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EXAMINATION AND THE ROLE OF NUTRITION IN THE WELL-BEING OF UNIVERSITY STUDENTS (UNDERGRADUATES)