The importance of good nutrition is not a new concept. Back in 400 B.C., Hippocrates (the father of modern medicine) said, “Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food.” Today, good nutrition is more important than ever – studies have shown that at least four of the 10 leading causes of death – heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes – are directly related to what we eat. As a matter of fact, our diet also has implications in several other health related issues, which is why eating right is among the key cornerstones of good health.
The main problem here is that the foods today simply aren’t as healthy as they once were. Studies have shown that the soil is extremely depleted, due to mass commercialized farming techniques, and this in turn gives birth to fruits and vegetables that severely lack the nutritional content, that they used to, just a few decades ago. Then there is the problem of preservatives, chemicals, artificial dyes, colours and flavourings. The second problem is that the meats we consume are also a lot less healthy nowadays. This is because a majority of the animals which are used for their meats, such as cows and goats, are fed grains, rather than natural food. In addition, they are injected with growth hormones and antibiotics to make them larger and plumper.
Of course, food alone isn’t the key to a longer and healthier life. Good nutrition should be part of an overall healthy lifestyle, which also includes regular exercise, not smoking or drinking alcohol excessively, stress management, limiting exposure to environmental hazards and other such factors. And no matter how well you eat or how much your exercise, your genes also play a big part in your life, because if you are genetically predisposed to certain health problems, chances are that they will emerge.
But it is important not to underestimate the influence what you eat, how you eat it and how much you eat. The keys to good nutrition are balance, variety and moderation and to stay healthy, your body needs the right balance of carbohydrates, fats, and protein –the three main components of nutrition.
Each day, you should get approximately:
- 25 percent of total calories from high quality protein foods.
- 30 percent of calories from fat, primarily mono and poly unsaturated fats.
- 45 percent from carbohydrates, concentrating on whole grain foods, vegetables and fruits.
You also need vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which you will receive from many different foods, and while some foods are better than others, no single food item or food group has it all, which is why eating a variety of different foods is essential. Moderation means eating neither too much nor too little of any food or nutrient. Too much food can result in excess weight and even too much of certain nutrients can hamper your course to good health. Similarly, eating too little can lead to numerous nutritional deficiencies and even a low body mass.
Diet plays a vital role in the maintenance of good health and in the prevention and even treatment of disease. The human body builds up and maintains healthy cells, tissues, glands and organs, but only with the help of various nutrients. The body cannot perform any of its functions — be they metabolic, hormonal, mental, physical or chemical — without specific nutrients. The food, which provides these nutrients, is thus one of the most essential factors in building and maintaining good health.
Nutrition, which depends on food, is also of utmost importance when you are looking to cure disease. The primary cause of most diseases is a weakened organ or lowered resistance in the body, arising from the adoption of a faulty nutritional pattern. There is an elaborate healing mechanism within the body, but it can perform its function only if it is abundantly supplied with all the essential nutritional factors. This is why eating right and eating with proper information is of utmost importance.