NUTRITION AND DIET
The important role of nutrition and diet in overall
health is widely recognized. As a member of the Navy,
and as a Dental Technician, you must be healthy so you
can perform your professional duties. Part of
maintaining a healthy lifestyle starts with eating a
well- balanced diet and exercising. Many people in the
Navy and Marine Corps do not have a proper daily diet
and you may be responsible for providing counseling
on nutrition to your dental patients. Some patients may
need a little motivation. If you are healthy and
enthusiastic, the knowledge you share with them on
nutrition and diet may be more credible and may help
them to adopt a healthier lifestyle.
An essential nutrient is defined as one that must be
provided by food because the body cannot synthesize it
at a rate sufficient to meet our needs. Nutrients can be
divided into six main classes: carbohydrates, fat,
protein, minerals, vitamins, and water. Good food
sources contain substantial amounts of nutrients in
relation to caloric contents and contribute at least 10
percent of U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowance for
the nutrient in the selected serving size. Most of us can
get enough of these nutrients each day by eating a
variety of foods from the five major food groups. The
six classes of nutrients are described as follows:
Carbohydrates include starches, sugars and
dietary fiber. Starch and sugar supply the body with
energy. Dietary fiber provides bulk to the diet, which
Proteins are the building blocks of the body.
Proteins are needed for growth, maintenance, and
replacement of body cells. They also form hormones
and enzymes used to regulate body processes. Extra
protein is used to supply energy or is changed into body
Fats provide energy and help carry fat soluble
vitamins. Fats also add flavor to foods. Some fats help
form cell membranes and hormones.
Vitamins are organic substances needed by the
body in very small amounts. They do not supply
energy, but help release energy from carbohydrates,
fats, and proteins. They also help in other chemical
reactions in the body.
Minerals are inorganic compounds found in
foods, body structures, and compounds in the body that
regulate body processes. Minerals are also needed in
relatively small amounts and do not supply energy.
Minerals are used to build strong bones and teeth, and to
make hemoglobin in red blood cells. They help maintain
body fluids and help other chemical reactions in the
Water is often called the forgotten nutrient. It
is needed to replace body fluids lost in urine and sweat.
Water helps to transport nutrients, remove waste, and
regulate body temperature.
One gram of carbohydrates provides four calories.
A calorie is not a nutrient. It is a measure of the energy
supplied by food when it is used by the body. Complex
carbohydrates, such as starches, are in breads, cereals,
pasta, rice, dry beans and peas, and other vegetables,
such as potatoes and corn.
Simple carbohydrates are found in sugars, honey,
syrup, jam, and many desserts. Sugar can contribute to
tooth decay and should be used in moderation.
One gram of protein provides 4 calories. Protein is
found in both animals and plants. All protein is made
up of small building blocks called amino acids. There
are approximately 20 amino acids. Our body can make
all but 9 of these. The 9 that we cant make are called
essential amino acids. We must get them from food,
and we need all 9 at one time so our body can function
properly. The only foods that contain all 9 are animal
foods (meat, milk, eggs, etc.). For this reason, animal
foods are called complete proteins. Plants (grains
such as rice, corn, beans, and wheat) each contain
several but not all 9 essential amino acids.