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Nutrition is the process by which organisms take in and utilize food material. Without nutrition, life would be unable to be supported, ranging from the smallest cells to the largest organisms. Nutrition from humans comes in the form of food, and good nutrition comes from a healthy and balanced diet. A poor diet, such as consuming too much sugars and carbohydrates can lead to such diseases as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, among others. Many of these common health problems can be resolved or prevented by a healthy diet, as recommended by dietitians and health professionals.

The food guide pyramid is a triangle shaped guide that indicates how much we should intake in terms of food groups on a daily basis. To have a healthy and well-balanced nutrition, we must eat according to the food guide pyramid. At the bottom of the pyramid is the bread, cereal, rice, and pasta group, which we should have 6-11 servings of. The next level up is both the vegetable group, which we should have 3-5 servings of, and the fruit group, which we should consume 2-4 servings of.

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The next level up indicates the milk, yogurt, and cheese group, which recommends 2-3 servings, and the meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts group, which recommends 2-3 servings. The top of the pyramid is the least healthy group, with fats, oils, and sweets. These should be eaten as sparingly as possible as consuming too much of this group will lead to unhealthy eating habits and an unbalanced diet. Proteins are part of every cell, tissue, and organ in our bodies. These body proteins are constantly being broken down and replaced.

That is why we need to consume proteins in order to replace these broken down proteins. Proteins are molecules that consist of and are amino acids. There are twenty different amino acids that join together to make all types of protein. They can be found in meats, poultry, fish, tofu, eggs, nuts, milk products etc. People in the United States get more than enough protein to meet the 2-3 servings needs recommended by the food guide pyramid. Our bodies cannot make some amino acids. These are called essential amino

acids because they are essential to a good diet. A complete protein source is one that provides all of the essential amino acids, otherwise known as high quality proteins. These include meat, poultry, fish, milk, eggs, and cheese. They provide complete protein. An incomplete protein source is one that is low in one or more of the essential amino acids. Complementary proteins are two or more incomplete protein sources that together provide adequate amounts of all the essential amino acids.

This is why vegetarians who cannot obtain a complete protein source from meat, poultry, and fish products can obtain protein by consuming a mixed amount of complementary proteins to ensure that the body consumes and adequate amount of all the essential amino acids the body needs. It is recommended that 10-35% of a person’s daily calories should come from protein. Children should consume anywhere between 13-52 grams of protein per day, with the younger consuming in the lower range and the older consuming in the higher range.

Adults from age 18 on should consume about 46-56 grams of protein each day to maintain a healthy nutritional diet. Males should intake a higher level of protein than females as represented in the RDA, or the Recommended Dietary Allowances. Vegetarians who avoid eating meat must rely on plant-based sources of protein to meet their protein needs, and due to the variety of such foods, a vegetarian can easily have a well-maintained protein balance.

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