Carbohydrates play an important role in the physiological processes through providing a source of energy. The nervous system and the brain depend upon the glucose from carbohydrates in order to function properly. The entire body, on the other hand, benefits from the intake of carbohydrates through fiber, which assists in digestive processes and minerals, for instance, Potassium, needed in the transmission of nerve signals. While a person may survive without carbohydrates for several days, this usually has an adverse effect on physiological processes. In the instances of a diet deficient in carbohydrates, proteins will be converted into carbohydrates, which will make the body unable to accomplish tissue building and repair which depend on amino acids derived from proteins. This is an important aspect of the physiological processes that needs to be communicated to patients/clients during nutritional counseling sessions.
Amino acids form the fundamental building blocks of all proteins. The term ‘essential amino acids’ is used to refer to amino acids which the body cannot manufacture on its own, and thus they need to be ingested in food. Non-essential amino acids are those that the body can manufacture on its own, and thus they are not essential in the diet. As such, it is important that during nutritional counseling, patients ought to be encouraged to opt for foods that are diverse and rich in protein sources in order to ensure essential amino acids are provided for essential functions of tissue building and repair. The production of glucose therefore ought to be a preserve of carbohydrates and not amino acids. Excessive conversion of amino acids to provide energy results into toxicity, and this ought to be avoided as much as possible in order to protect vital organs such as the liver and the kidneys (Barnard & Raymond, 2003).
Even as many people prefer foods rich in fat and oils, intake of these types of foods ought to be moderated. However, this does not mean that the intake of lipids ought to be cut off as some diets normally recommend. Lipids are an important part in the physiological functions of the body as they are important in the production of cell membranes and steroid hormones among others. Additionally, lipids in the form of fats offer insulation from cold and cushion vital organs from damage. While lipids are an important part of the diet, it has to be asserted that an intake of more than three tablespoons of lipids in a day is unhealthy. Glycerol may to a degree provide glucose in addition to the breakdown of acetyl-CoA from fatty acids in instances of deficiency for the production of energy. In normal circumstances, fatty acid is usually converted into fat for storage in instances of excessive consumption. Not including enough carbohydrates in the diet will result into a situation in which some vital functions of the body will not be attained. This is because while there may be conversion of proteins into energy, this can only be done to a certain extent, which cannot offer enough energy as carbohydrates would (Patten, 2006).
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In the instance of deficiency in one of the essential nutrients required for optimum physiological function, the body applies mechanisms that make one food group, for instance, protein fulfill the functions of the other, for instance, carbohydrates. In the instance of the activation of such mechanisms, other nutrients, for instance, vitamins will also be diverted into secondary function leading to lesser efficiency of physiological function. It has to be noted that what results into physiological problems is usually a correlate of the amount of food of each group consumed (DeBryune et al, 2008). While some nutrients such as carbohydrates may be substituted by conversion of other food groups such as proteins as substitutes, there are some nutrient groups which have to be ingested since they cannot be substituted. A good example of this is the intake of Sodium, which has to be included in the diet since it is in very small quantities in food groups such as carbohydrates and vitamins.
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