You’re a vehicle owner. You know what your vehicle takes to function and what stops it from functioning.
Can you guess what it is? You got it! It’s fuel. Just like your vehicle, all living organisms require energy to function, grow and heal. 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.
Types of nutrition
To fully understand the phenomenon of nutrition, it’s important to study its types. It’s classified into two main types:
- Autotrophic nutrition
- Heterotrophic nutrition
We all know that plants also feed like humans and animals do. But, it’s important even for a layman to understand the terminology and science behind these various modes of feeding.
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.
On the other hand, 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, let’s discuss them one by one:
- Herbivores- These are the animals who are just like your vegetarian friends who always eat greens and refrain from eating meat. They’re plant lovers!
- Carnivores- These are the animals that devour other animals. They’re wild and dangerous so just run away when you see them around yourself. They might eat human flesh too if they’re very hungry.
- Omnivores- These are the organisms who… let’s cut it short. It’s you! Yes you’re an omnivore. You’re called one because you can eat both plants and animals. Even if you don’t eat animals because you’re too kind and emotional, you still are an omnivore because you’ve only chosen to become a vegetarian; however, you’re naturally born with the tendency to eat both animals and plants.
- 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. Gross! Right? 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.
Key Facts and Statistics of Nutrition:
- Our human body mainly needs 7 kinds of nutrients: carbohydrates, protein, fats, minerals, vitamins, fiber, and water.
- Carbohydrate, fat, and, protein are macronutrients needed in larger amounts.
- Minerals and vitamins are micronutrients needed in small amounts.
- All of the nutrients don’t provide energy, but they are still important e.g. fiber and water.
- Protein forms about 16% of an average person’s body weight.
- Water constitutes around 62% of an average person’s body weight.