by Paula Campbell, Nutritionist
“Nutrition? What’s that?” There are a lot of people who don’t understand what proper nutrition is, nor the vital role it plays in human health. Simply put, nutrition is the science of how food affects the body’s growth and development.
Nutritionists focus on the role of essential vitamins, minerals and other basic nutrients on the body. The science of nutrition centers on proper diet, the way the body processes and digests the food it takes in, and how the food we eat affects the body’s metabolism.
A lack of proper nourishment can lead to physical illness, disease, and even psychological problems. This is why good nutrition is vital to maintaining a healthy body and avoiding disease.
Eating right can reduce the risks of developing chronic illnesses or premature death. Diseases like cancer, heart disease, hypertension, stroke and diabetes may be avoided by eating a healthy and balanced diet in conjunction with regular exercise.
There are several factors that make up proper and healthy nourishment, beginning with average nutritional requirements. When making dietary recommendations, nutritionists divide people into groups based on how fast they are growing, how active they are, and their height, weight, sex, and age.
There are many guidelines for deciding what is a healthy diet, and you should therefore take into account all the essential nutrients when menu planning. Ask yourself, “Is there a balance of whole grains, lean protein, fresh fruits and vegetables?”
Furthermore, do the foods you are eating contain the proper balance of phytochemicals, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, omega three, fat, fiber, salt, sugar, and water? Also, remember to practice portion control in order to avoid overeating.
The body’s energy comes from the food we eat in either solid or liquid form. Food provides energy to our body and helps support proper physical growth reproduction and body maintenance and repair. Healthy food gives the body essential substances for proper mental and physical functioning.
Proper nutrition is categorized into six classes of essential nutrients that the body needs. These are vitamins, minerals, water, micro-nutrients, fats, carbohydrates and protein.
The body’s energy comes from carbohydrates, which are the most important nutrients to consume. A healthy diet consists of sixty percent carbohydrates. Not eating enough carbohydrates can lead to potentially serious health problems like ketosis.
Dietary guidelines from the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Agriculture (USDA) recommend fewer calories and smarter food choices. Here are some of their key recommendations:
Many of us suffer from diseases and illnesses due to a poor diet and unhealthy lifestyle. Doctors, dietitians, and other health experts encourage us to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, legumes, vegetables, whole grains, fish, meat, milk and cheese.
A balanced diet should match the proper calorie level for your body type, and portion control is also important. By choosing food with a high-nutrient density, you will be able to get more out of each calorie you consume.
Nutrient-dense foods contain more vitamins and minerals and relatively fewer calories. Good examples are fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and beans, and lean meats and fish.
Do your best to avoid low-nutrient density foods with poor vitamin content but lots of calories. Examples include candy bars, sodas, doughnuts, french fries and onion rings.
It’s also vital to drink lots of water, get proper sleep and engage in regular exercise. The combination of a balanced diet and a commitment to fitness can extend a person’s lifespan. Anti-aging nutrition is thus a natural way to maximize one’s longevity.
Living an unhealthy lifestyle based on poor nutrition will most likely result in future health problems. That’s why it’s important to understand what is proper nutrition and how to choose the right foods for good health and longer life.
(published July 13, 2011)