Nutrition is the process of providing or obtaining food needed for health and growth. It is essential for survival, and helps the body function and stay healthy. It is the biochemical and physiological process by which an organism uses food to sustain its life, providing it with nutrients that can be metabolized to create chemical and energy structures. Nutrition is also the study of foods and how they work in the body, including macronutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates and fats, as well as micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and phytochemicals.
Eating a healthy and balanced diet is key to good nutrition. This means consuming a variety of foods from each food group, such as fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and grains. It is also important to understand nutrition terms in order to make better food choices. Specialty pet foods have been manufactured since 1860, and subsequent research and development has addressed the nutritional needs of pets.
Nutrition education is an important part of understanding nutrition. Health educators should try to source local foods for use in nutrition education, in addition to laminated illustrations. Using real local foods for practical meal planning and teaching food categories helps adults and children with low literacy levels understand nutrition better. Nutrition has been studied since the 18th century, when chemists experimented with different elements and food sources to develop theories about nutrition.
Mineral cycles such as the carbon cycle, the sulfur cycle, the nitrogen cycle, the water cycle, the phosphorus cycle, and the oxygen cycle are continuously recycled together with other mineral nutrients in productive ecological nutrition. In domestic animals, such as pets, livestock and working animals, as well as in other animals in captivity, humans manage nutrition through animal feed.