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Importance of Nutrition in Keeping Fit and Healthy

Everyone is interested in developing a lifestyle that will improve their health and fitness. Two of the major components of a healthy lifestyle are good nutrition and adequate exercise.

People are slowly starting to become more active, but there is a minefield of myths surrounding ideas on sensible nutrition. The relationship between nutrition and exercise - nutrition is a complicated area and exercise is the only safe, long-term solution for obesity.

This article will show you how your knowledge of nutrition can assist you in developing sensible eating and exercise habits to enable you to reduce your body fat, increase your lean body mass, give you more everyday energy, and help maintain the efficient functioning of the systems of your body.

We will give you techniques for using knowledge of the energy cost of activities to develop the best frequency, intensity, time and type of activity for your exercise plan.

"What you eat today is your tomorrow." "You are what you eat." These phrases may be a little hackneyed, but truer words were never written. The food you eat every day provides the energy for every function of your body, for building a new body in response to exercise and to regulate the various processes of the body.

Let's get some of the terminology straightened out before we begin.

Food is anything out there that has the potential to be eaten, digested, and used positively by the body.

Diet is the makeup of the food that we eat. The word "diet" isn't good or bad, and doesn't mean depriving yourself. Everyone who is eating food is on a "diet", and if you are not "dieting" you have stopped eating.

You should be more specific when you talk about a "diet". You can manipulate your food intake to achieve a goal. So a serious aerobic athlete will have a diet relatively high in complex carbohydrates and fats, while a bodybuilder may have a diet that is higher than average in protein and complex carbohydrates and very low in fats. An average exerciser will try and maintain a diet where these three nutritional elements are balanced.

Nutrition means more than food and diet. Nutrition is the sum total of all the processes involved in taking in and utilising food.

The processes which make up nutrition are:

Ingestion: Placing food into the body, usually, through the mouth, where the teeth grind the food up into manageable units, and saliva is added to lubricate the food and start the digestive process.

Digestion: Where food is pushed through the stomach and intestines. These organs mush up the food, and mix in different chemicals and acids that act on the food to break it apart. Those funny noises your stomach makes are food being pounded up by the muscles of the digestive system, or chemical being squeezed out of glands such as the pancreas into the digestive system.

Absorption: This is where the food has been broken down into particles small enough and the right shape to pass through specially constructed gateways in the digestive tract Different parts of the digestive tract are designed to allow different nutritional elements to pass through. As you'd expect, the simpler ones such as sugars are absorbed in the higher parts of the digestive tract, and the more complex ones such as proteins are absorbed in the lower parts.

Transportation: Once food has passed across the walls of the digestive tract it doesn't just sit there. It passes into the bloodstream where it is transported through the body, usually to the liver for further processing. For example, proteins are broken down into amino acids, are absorbed through the walls of the small intestine, pass into the blood via the portal vein, and are pumped by the heart to the liver for synthesis into one of the diverse proteins needed by the body.

Metabolism: This is the reconstruction of nutrients into forms that are useful to the body. For example, all the sugars and carbohydrates must be converted to the form of glycogen by the liver before your body can use them for energy.

Excretion: Anything not absorbed into the body is shunted down the digestive tract to the large intestine where it is stored until the appropriate time when it can be excreted as feces.

Poor nutrition can reduce your strength and endurance, and lead to chronic fatigue, increases in body fat, and diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.

Your diet can be influenced by a variety of psychological, sociological, and economic factors. From the standpoint of health and fitness, it is the physiological and biochemical processes that are important to understand.

Can food help you in recovery from training or competing?

The answer to this question is a very definite yes. Athletes today strive for maximum effort and optimum performance and often have to repeat events or programs that deplete the body of glycogen stores, fluid levels and present fatigue levels that require the utmost attention to recover fully.

Of course there are many areas involved in the recovery process. Some of these include stretching, massage, light training, hot and cold baths, rest and perhaps some of these issues can be explored in another column.

The three main areas of concern when dealing with nutritional recovery are: (1) replacing the fluid and electrolytes lost in sweat, (2) replenishing muscle glycogen and (3) repair of damage caused by activity.

It is highly likely that dehydration will occur at some stage of activity, whether it is early or late depends on the amount of fluid (primarily water) that has been consumed before exercise.

Often we have players down in body weight after training and games and this is essentially due to the loss of fluid (most via sweat). A kilogram of weight loss requires about a Litre of fluid replacement.

It is not uncommon to see an athlete two or three days after an event still in a lethargic state. This may well be due to the lack of rehydration even though they probably feel as if they have taken enough fluid.

Alcohol and caffeine-related drinks should be avoided because they act as a diuretic rather than a fluid replacement.

A polymer glucose drink is introduced before and during the game to provide the cells more energy. After the game, water and soft drink are provided, but no alcohol.

The polymer glucose product helps the levels of muscle glycogen but there is depletion due to the nature of a particular sport. It should be stressed that failure to meet daily carbohydrate requirements (approximately l0g per kg) will no doubt place any athlete in a disadvantageous state in terms of muscle glycogen (energy) stores.

Recent research suggest that carbohydrate intake immediately after exhaustive exercise provides rapid synthesis of muscle glycogen, twice as fast as when a carbohydrate intake was delayed until two hours after the event.

IN SUMMARY, it is important for the athlete to: (1) replenish muscle glycogen with a high complex carbohydrate diet; (2) limit simple sugar and salt intake and (3) ensure adequate fluid replacement with non-alcoholic drinks.

It is only in recent times that we have really discovered that recovery techniques now play just as an important role in performance of the athlete as physical preparation. Mental preparation and certainly nutrition, not only pre-game, but during and post game, plays an integral part in the athletes' ability to perform at their best on a consistent basis.

References:
●  http://www.lifetips.top/fitness/top-40-fitness-tips-for-beginners/
●  Effects of Ingesting Polylactate or Glucose Polymer Drinks During Prolonged Exercise
●  http://www.lifetips.top/fitness/diet-tips-what-do-athletes-eat/
●  http://www.popularfitness.com/articles/training-tunes-the-body.html
●  http://healthcommkey.org/importance-physical-fitness/

Written by Natalia Moore from www.LifeTips.top

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