Why is Nutrition Important?
There are two functional definitions of nutrition:
1. The process by which a living organism assimilates food and uses it for growth, metabolism (liberation of energy), and repair (replacement of tissues); and,
2. The scientific study of food and nourishment, including food composition, dietary guidelines and the roles that various nutrients have in maintaining health.
Do you at times feel that you can’t keep up with the latest nutrition news because it is always changing? By mastering the nutrition basics, and becoming more aware of calories and the roles that specific nutrients play in a healthy diet, you have a good start.
Nutritional food contains vitamins, minerals, enzymes and other healing agents for our bodies. Refined food, including refined sugar, salt and grains, contains little or no healthful nutrients. The food industry has promoted the use of refined foods because they are inexpensive to manufacture and have a long shelf life.
Researchers have found that nutrient-rich foods are the most effective for the prevention of disease because they contain a synergistic blend of nutrients including vitamins, minerals, fiber, fatty acids and other important compounds; in addition, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts/seeds and herbs/spices contain phytonutrients (plant-based nutrients).
Whole, nutrient-rich foods can protect against:
According to the Lyon Heart Study, increasing consumption of vegetables, fruit, whole grains and legumes; eating healthy fats such as those found in olive oil, nuts and seeds; and decreasing consumption of saturated fat were found to have reduced the risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 70% after 27 months. In the DASH (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension) study, the findings demonstrated that a higher intake of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables can lower blood pressure.
Foods rich in soluble fiber, such as oats, beans and nuts, have been shown to lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol significantly. The fiber in a whole foods diet also lowers serum triglycerides, its potassium and magnesium drop blood pressure, and its rich supply of antioxidants protect cholesterol from free-radical damage.
A diet high in fruits and vegetables can reduce cancer risk. Folic acid, abundant in leafy green vegetables, has been found to reduce the risk of colon cancer as well as cardiovascular disease. Broccoli, along with other members of the cruciferous vegetable family, contains glucosinolates that switch on and turn up enzymes that detoxify carcinogenic substances. Anthocyanins, found in blueberries, penetrate cell membranes and provide cells with antioxidant protection, can decrease levels of inflammation and help prevent DNA damage in your body.
A whole, nutrient-rich food diet provides not only high levels of anti-inflammatory antioxidants and phytonutrients, which lessen the damage that high blood levels of glucose would otherwise cause, but also an excellent supply of fiber, which slows digestion, lowers insulin requirements, provides better control of blood glucose and reduces blood cholesterol levels.
At Balanced Life and Health, if you want to go beyond the basics, we will provide personalized dietary advice that will take into account your health status, lifestyle and food likes and dislikes.