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Introduction to Nutrition and Food Technology


Food is that which nourishes the body. Food may also be defined as anything eaten or drunk, which meets the needs for energy, building, regulation and protection of the body. In short, food is the raw material from which our bodies are made. Intake of the right kinds and amounts of food can ensure good nutrition and health, which may be evident in our appearance, efficiency and emotional well-being.

Nutrition has been defined as food at work in the body. Nutrition includes everything that happens to food from the time it is eaten until it is used for various functions in the body. Nutrients are components of food that are needed by the body in adequate amounts in order to grow, reproduce and lead a normal, healthy life. Nutrients include water, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins. There are several nutrients in each of the groups: proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins; hence the plural form of these words has been used. Thus there are over 40 essential nutrients supplied by food, which are used to produce literally thousands of substances necessary for life and physical fitness.

The study of the science of nutrition deals with what nutrients we need, how much we need, why we need these and where we can get them. Nutrition is the result of the kinds of foods supplied to the body and how the body uses the food supplied.

Adequate, optimum and good nutrition are expressions used to indicate that the supply of the essential nutrients is correct in amount and proportion. It also implies that the utilization of such nutrients in the body is such that the highest level of physical and mental health is maintained throughout the life-cycle.

Nutritional status is the state of our body as a result of the foods consumed and their use by the body. Nutritional status can be good, fair or poor.

The characteristics of good nutritional status are an alert, good natured personality, a well-developed body, with normal weight for height, well developed and firm muscles, healthy skin, reddish pink colour of eyelids and membranes of mouth, good layer of subcutaneous fat, clear eyes, smooth and glossy hair, good appetite and excellent general health. General good health is evident by stamina for work, regular meal times, sound regular sleep, normal elimination and resistance to disease.

Poor nutritional status is evidenced by a listless, apathetic or irritable personality, undersized poorly developed body, abnormal body weight (too thin or fat and flabby body), muscles small and flabby, pale or sallow skin, too little or too much subcutaneous fat, dull or reddened eyes, lusterless and rough hair, poor appetite, lack of vigor and endurance for work and susceptibility to infections. Poor nutritional status may be the result of poor food selection, irregularity in schedule of meals, work, sleep and elimination.

The WHO (World Health Organization) has defined health as the ‘state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’.

Malnutrition means an undesirable kind of nutrition leading to ill-health. It results from a lack,

Excess or imbalance of nutrients in the diet. It includes undernutrition and over nutrition. Undernutrition is a state of an insufficient supply of essential nutrients.

Malnutrition can be primarily be due to insufficient supply of one or more essential nutrients; or it can be secondary, which means it results from an error in metabolism, interaction between nutrients or nutrients and drugs used in treatment.


Over nutrition refers to an excessive intake of one or more nutrients, which creates a stress in them.

Diet refers to whatever you eat and drink each day. Thus it includes the normal diet you consume and the diet people consume in groups (hostel diet). Diet may also be modified and used for ill personsas part of their therapy (therapeutic diets)

Nutritional care is the use of nutritional knowledge in planning meals and the preparation of these meals in an acceptable and attractive manner to feed people. It involves assessment of the exiting meal patterns and improving these in an acceptable manner. While the nutritional plan may be general for a group of people, the actual execution is individualized to suit the person’s needs and background.

Thus one has to use a lot of ingenuity to succeed in making nutritional care effective in practical terms.

Health the word health refers to the condition of the body, good health not only implies freedom from disease, but physical, mental and emotional fitness as well.