What is Nutrition? And Types of Nutrition – All You Need to Know


What is Nutrition? And Types of Nutrition – All You Need to Know

The source of this energy is food. The study of food is primarily known as nutrition. As you know that to sustain life you need to keep feeding your body and it’s not just you but all living beings require nutrition to survive.

Food is vital as it provides the energy needed for growth, repair, and other life processes.

All these come under the life process called nutrition.

Nutrition is the process of taking in food and converting it into energy and other vital nutrients required for life.

Nutrients are the substances which provide energy and biomolecules necessary for carrying out the various body functions. All living organisms need nutrients for proper functioning and growth. But they show divergence in how they fulfill this demand.

Some animals feed on simple inorganic compounds to meet their nutrient requirement, while others utilize complex compounds. The mode of nutrition varies from one spec


What is Nutrition?

Nutrition is the study of how food and drink affects our bodies with special regard to the essential nutrients necessary to support human health. It looks at the physiological and biochemical processes involved in nourishment and how substances in food provide energy or are converted into body tissues.

These nutrients, which are the source of energy for our bodies, are classed as: carbohydrates, fats, fibre, minerals, proteins, vitamins and water. Good nutrition means obtaining the right amount of nutrients from healthy foods in the right combinations.

An important part of the study of nutrition is looking at diseases that can result from malnutrition and the role that food plays in the development of chronic disease.

Poor nutrition can lead to a lack of energy, digestive problems, food allergies, weight gain, depression and anxiety as well as many of today’s most prevalent chronic diseases like coronary heart disease, cancer and ADHA.

Having nutritional knowledge and making informed choices about the foods you eat can help you achieve optimum health over your lifetime.

Nutrition is also about why we choose to eat the foods we do, even when we know they may not be good for us, what is going on at a cellular level and how that affects what we crave and therefore set up food cycles that are unhealthy or damaging.

Nutritionists advise people on what to eat and how to modify their diet so they can maintain or restore optimal health or help relieve ill health and combat disease.

There is almost daily advice in the media on what to eat and what not to eat (and drink) and most of it is confusing and contradictory. Celebrity chefs and fine dining have continued to grow in popularity as have food fads and quick win diets.

Food is a subject close to everyone’s heart (and stomach!) and more and more people are realizing what you eat can affect both your short term and long term health. Naturopathic nutrition seeks to uncover and support the cause of a disease, rather than just treating the symptoms as conventional medicine often does.

Many people find that improving a poor diet to cure one symptom can often lead to other health benefits such as increased energy levels, improved skin and better sleep, amongst a number of other benefits.

Whether you take your studies further to become a nutritionist or not, the knowledge you gain will be invaluable as it is knowledge you will be able to integrate into daily life to the benefit of your own health and wellbeing.


2 Main Types of Nutrition with Details

What is Nutrition? And Types of Nutrition – All You Need to Know

Broadly, there are two types of nutrition among living organisms, namely

  •  Autotrophic nutrition
  •  Heterotrophic nutrition


1.  Autotrophic nutrition

Autotrophic nutrition is found in autotrophic organisms. These organisms are self-dependent in terms of their food making process. This process is called photosynthesis. 

So which creatures do you think are the ones that make their own food? They’re the trees around you or the plants you see every day. Next time you see a tree, just repeat it to yourself that it’s autotrophic because it makes its own food.

Adding to your knowledge, photosynthesis is a process in which plants manufacture their food, food which is not what we eat. Plants munch on sunlight and water. They consume water, carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and sunlight energy to manufacture the sugar and starch, which is the nutrition of plants.

Mode of nutrition is the way to obtain food. On the basis of obtaining and utilizing food, there are two types, autotrophic and heterotrophic.

Autotrophic nutrition, When an organism prepared their own food and does not depend on any other organism is called as autotrophic nutrition. 

An organism that follows the autotrophic mode of nutrition is called as autotrophs e.g. Plants. Autotrophic mode of nutrition is further divided into two categories photoautotrophs (uses photosynthesis as a source of energy, e.g., plants and green bacteria) and chemoautotrophs (uses chemosynthesis, e.g., non-green sulphur bacteria).

During photosynthesis, carbon dioxide and water get converted into carbohydrates. These carbohydrates are stored in the form of starch in plants. Plants later derive the energy required from the stored starch.

The process of photosynthesis can be explained in three stages:

a)  Absorption: The chlorophyll present in leaves traps the light coming from the sun.

b)  Conversion: The absorbed light energy gets converted into chemical energy. And water absorbed will split into hydrogen and oxygen molecules.

c) Reduction: At last, carbon dioxide gets reduced i.e. hydrogen molecules combine with carbon, to form carbohydrates (sugar molecules).

All three events are not a continuous process. They may or may not take place sequentially. 

In plants, stomata are the openings on leaves where gaseous exchange takes place and is regulated by guard cells. Plants take in and release gases through these stomatal pores.

In desert-like habitats, to avoid water loss, guard cells keep these pores closed during the daytime. 

Later, during the night time, stomata will be opened to absorb carbon dioxide and store in the vacuoles. During the daytime, they will use this stored carbon dioxide to perform photosynthesis.

Other than photosynthesis, plants also depend on soil for micro and macro elements. 

These elements are used to synthesize proteins and other essential compounds required for the proper functioning and growth of the plants.


2. Heterotrophic nutrition

Heterotrophic nutrition is found in heterotrophic organisms. These organisms rely on other organisms for their food. 

Now the organisms on your mind are most likely humans and animals. That’s true but to understand the different ways in which the various heterotrophic organisms derive their nutrition.

The mode of nutrition in which an organism depends on the plant or another animal for food is called as heterotrophic nutrition. An organism that carries out heterotrophic nutrition is called as heterotrophs e.g., animals. 

Heterotrophic mode of nutrition is further divided into four groups such as:

a) Herbivores- These are the animals that are just like your vegetarian friends who always eat greens and refrain from eating meat. They’re plant lovers!

b) Carnivores- These are the animals that devour other animals. They are wild and dangerous so just run away when you see them around yourself. They might eat human flesh too if they are very hungry.

c) Omnivores- An omnivore is an animal that has the ability to eat and survive on both plant and animal matter. Obtaining energy and nutrients from plant and animal matter, omnivores digest carbohydrates, protein, fat, and fiber, and metabolize the nutrients and energy of the sources absorbed.

d) Cannibals- Well, this wasn’t the part of the list, but since it’s happening in the world then why not talk about it too? Cannibals are the humans who eat other humans.

But it’s possible that somewhere someone drooled while reading this- no pun intended. But I think cannibals don’t need to be added as a new category of heterotrophic creatures. Rather, they’re more like what you call “evolved omnivores” who perhaps have crossed the limits of humanity.

Read: Gestation Periods for Farm Animals

Difference Between Autotrophic and Heterotrophic Nutrition 

1.  Autotrophic nutrition - The mode of nutrition in which the organism is capable of preparing their own food. Heterotrophic nutrition - The mode of nutrition in which the organism does not prepare their food themselves.

2.  Autotrophic nutrition- In this type of nutritional process, the organism is independent of other organisms for food. Heterotrophic nutrition - In this type, the organism is dependent on other organisms for food as nourishment.

3. Autotrophic nutrition- This type of nutritional mode involves preparing food using carbon dioxide and water in the presence of sunlight through the process of photosynthesis. Heterotrophic nutrition - No photosynthetic activity occurs.

4. Autotrophic nutrition- The organism employing this mode of nutrition is known as producers. Heterotrophic nutrition - The organisms employing this mode of nutrition are known as consumers.

5. Autotrophic nutrition - In this mode of nutrition, simple inorganic substances are converted into complex organic ones. Heterotrophic nutrition - It involves consumption of complex organic compounds and then digested to break down into simpler components.

6. Autotrophic nutrition - This mode of nutrition is carried out by the plants and some blue-green algae and bacteria. Heterotrophic nutrition - The heterotrophic mode of nutrition occurs in all animals, fungi and all other non-photosynthetic organisms.

Plants and animals do not receive food in the same way. Plants and certain bacteria have green pigment chlorophyll to help synthesize food, whereas plants, fungi and other bacteria are food dependent on other organisms as they do not contain any specialized apparatus as the photosynthetic apparatus.

Note:  Autotrophs are the organisms that are capable of preparing food of their own from simpler inorganic substances. Photosynthetic autotrophs such as plants, algae, and certain bacteria absorb energy from the sun using chlorophyll. 

Heterotrophs are the organisms that depend on other organisms for supply of food as they are incapable of producing their own food.


Key Facts of Nutrition

· All of the nutrients don’t provide energy, but they are still important e.g. fiber and water.

· Carbohydrate, fat, and, protein are macronutrients needed in larger amounts.

· Protein forms about 16% of an average person’s body weight.

· Protein, fats, minerals, vitamins, fiber, and water.

· Water constitutes around 62% of an average person’s body weight.


Often Questions Asked 

What Are the Types of Nutrition That Humans Need?

Below are the seven essential nutrients that are essential for the wellbeing of human beings. It is imperative to know that some types of nutrition in humans are independently produced by breaking down the food.

1. Carbohydrate: Carbohydrates are also known as carbs or saccharides. They are distinguished based on the number of monomers like disaccharides, monosaccharides or polysaccharides. Food items like rice, noodles, bread, grain-based products, etc., are rich in carbs. 

This is because the human body breaks down the carbs into glucose, which supports brain and body function. They also prevent loss of muscle mass by preventing the body from breaking down the protein into energy. Therefore, consuming complex carbohydrates can keep an individual fuller for a long time and manage body weight.

2. Protein:  They are a group of molecules that form amino acids. Proteins help in muscle formation and create enzymes and hormones. There are nearly 20 amino acids in the body’s protein, where nearly 10 are absorbed from the diet. 

A human body needs amino acids to produce new proteins and repair damaged proteins. Including various foods into a diet like eggs, red meat, dairy, beans, and nuts would full the protein requirements.

3. Fats: Fats are essential to support cell growth and supply energy to the body. The body uses fat to absorb vitamins. They supply energy to the body and protect organs from damage. Fats are known to keep the body warm and energetic. 

Typically, one can find food items containing saturated and unsaturated fats. Consuming foods with low saturated fat like butter, seafood, cheese, coconut oil, chocolate, etc., is always healthier. Foods like salmon, nuts and avocados are natural sources of unsaturated fats.

4. Water: Every human needs 2 litres of water per day. It helps in the formation of digestive juices, the basis of blood, urine and sweat. In addition, water is required to regulate body temperature, reduce the risk of cystitis, maintain cell health, lubricate cushion joints, and keep the bladder clean from bacteria.

5. Minerals: Minerals are essential micro-nutrients that help in building strong bones and maintaining a healthy heart rate. Sodium, Chloride, Magnesium, Sulfur, Phosphorus and Calcium are vital minerals for the human body.

6. Fibres: Dietary fibres are a form of carbohydrates or polysaccharides that help in digestion. However, the human body doesn’t gain any nutrients or calories from the fibres. However, it helps in removing the toxic waste from the digestive system. 

Moreover, it regulates bowel movement and removes the risk of cancer from the body. Whole meal bread, wheat, bran, nuts, vegetables, etc., are rich sources of fibre.

7. Vitamins: Vitamins are essential nutrients that the body needs in small amounts. Typically, the body can't produce vitamins. Thus, it needs to be consumed in a diet. They are grouped as water-soluble and fat-soluble. Vitamins D, A, E and K are fat-soluble vitamins that easily travel through the kidneys and are excreted.

On the other hand, folate, riboflavin, vitamin C, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, niacin and thiamin are water-soluble vitamins stored in the body cells.


Why is Nutrition Vital for a Living Organism?

Nutrition is very important to lead a healthy life. A balanced diet reduces the risk of diseases and improves the overall health of an organism. It provides energy to the cells to carry out the cellular activities.


What are the Different Modes of Nutrition in Living Beings?

The different modes of nutrition include:

  • ·       Autotrophic nutrition
  • ·       Heterotrophic nutrition


What are the Different Modes of Heterotrophic Nutrition?

The different modes of heterotrophic nutrition include:

  • ·       Parasitic
  • ·       Saprophytic
  • ·       Holozoic

What is the Mode of Nutrition in Plants?

Plants exhibit an autotrophic mode of nutrition because they can prepare their own food. Plants use sunlight, water and carbon dioxide to produce energy during photosynthesis.


What is Holozoic Nutrition?

Holozoic nutrition is the mode of heterotrophic nutrition that involves ingestion, digestion, absorption and assimilation of solid and liquid material.

This type of nutrition is exhibited by amoeba that takes in complex substances and converts them into simpler substances.


What are Mixotrophs?

Mixotrophs are organisms that use a mix of different sources of energy and carbon rather than a single trophic mode. Euglena is an autotroph as well as a heterotroph and is called a mixotroph.


Are all Protists Mixotrophs?

Not all protists are mixotrophs. A few protists are strict heterotrophs. While a few are both autotrophs and heterotrophs. The mixotrophic protists are called acetate flagellates.


What is the Mode of Nutrition in Blue-Green Algae?

Blue-green algae can be autotrophs, heterotrophs or mixotrophs.


What Are Some of the Healthy Sources of Nutrients?

Simply understanding what the types of nutrition are won’t help an individual maintain a healthy lifestyle. 

Instead, they need to take the initiative to plan a meal that combines the benefits of the discussed nutrients. Vitamin- Green leafy vegetables, milk, poultry, eggs, fish, nuts, seeds are great sources of vitamins.

  • ·       Minerals- Spinach, banana, egg yolk, nuts and seeds, fortified cereals, etc.
  • ·       Protein- Chicken, fish, turkey, lentils, milk and egg.
  • ·       Fibre- Fruits, millets and sprouts.
  • ·       Carbohydrate- Rice, bread, whole grain, etc.
  • ·       Fats- Nuts, unsaturated fats, etc., are good sources of fats.
  • ·       Water


What Is the Exact Proportion of Nutrients Needed for the Body?

Take a look at the proportion segregated based on the types of nutrition needed by a human daily.

1. Vitamin

  • ·       Biotin- 0.3 milligrams
  • ·       Folate- 0.4 milligrams
  • ·       A- 0.6 milligrams
  • ·       B1- 0.14 milligrams
  • ·       B2- 0.16 milligrams
  • ·       B3- 0.18 milligrams
  • ·       B5-0.6 milligrams
  • ·       B6-0.2 milligrams
  • ·       B12- 0.6 milligrams
  • ·       C- 0.75 milligrams
  • ·       D- 0.5 milligrams
  • ·       E- 0.10 milligrams
  • ·       Vitamin K- 0.80 milligrams

 2. Minerals

  • ·       Calcium- 1000 milligrams
  • ·       Iron- 15 milligrams
  • ·       Magnesium- 350 milligrams
  • ·       Chromium- 0.12 milligrams
  • ·       Copper- 2 milligrams
  • ·       Chlorine- 3400 milligrams
  • ·       Fluorine -3.5 milligrams
  • ·       Iodine -0.15 milligrams
  • ·       Nickel -1 milligrams
  • ·       Manganese- 5 milligrams
  • ·       Molybdenum- 75 milligrams
  • ·       Potassium-3500 milligrams

3. Protein

  • ·       An adult should consume nearly 800 milligrams of protein every day.

4. Fibre

  • ·       An individual should consume nearly 30,000 milligrams of fibre regularly.

5. Carbohydrate

  • ·       Adults should consume 325000 milligrams of carbohydrates regularly.

6. Fats

  • ·      The fat intake in an adult should be 77000 milligrams per day.

7. Water

  • ·       Adult- Experts recommend drinking at least 1.5 to 2 litres of water every day.

These are the basic information on types of nutrition and their sources. An individual can follow the measurements and prepare a diet chart accordingly.

Read: History of Agriculture – All you need to know

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