Eating food is not only for satisfying hunger but also for nourishment for our organs to function. There really is truth to the saying that what you are is what you eat. Hence, whatever you eat has a great impact on how your body is able to function and be able to prevent diseases. The ever-increasing knowledge of a healthy, balanced diet has changed our views of food. Although fad diets are still hugely popular worldwide and body image has become a glorified and fascinating subject, there is a general acceptance of eating more fruit and vegetables, cutting down on sugar and so on. So, what is the importance of good nutrition?
The nutrition challenge
However, the global obesity challenge has created serious question marks over the success of healthy eating initiatives. In the latest UK statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet, it was revealed that 29% of adults in the UK are classified as obese, and 20% of year 6 children. What’s worse is only 18% of children are eating the recommended daily fruit and vegetable recommendations. And it’s well documented how physical inactivity is negatively impacting our health.
In order to meet the suggested nutrients the body requires, experts recommend varying food sources and adding supplements that contain minerals and multivitamins to your diet. This will help make sure you won’t be deficient from other important nutrients that our body requires in order to function smoothly – something that fad diets often fail to consider. While fad diets may help lose weight fast, a more balanced diet will not only help shed those extra pounds but keep the heart and other vital organs ticking along nicely, meeting the daily nutrition demands of your body. Long-term health should be the aim.
The challenges are apparent. According to Public Health England, ‘following a healthy, balanced diet and reducing calories will help reduce obesity and the economic and social burden of its consequences‘. While Dr Alison Tedstone, the chief nutritionist at Public Health England, describes the state of nutrition in the UK as: ‘Poor diets are all too common in this country and, along with obesity, are now one of the leading causes of disease such as cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. It’s clear from these data that the nation’s diet needs an overhaul’.
So, what is the importance of good nutrition? How can it affect our today and our tomorrow? And how does good nutrition impact us compared to bad nutrition?
Why is good nutrition important?
- More Energy. A healthy diet that is balanced will give you the energy you need every day. Our body is like an engine. Therefore ensure it is kept well-oiled and refuelled at all times. Hence, a change to a healthier diet can make you feel like there is an increase in your energy.
- Improved Immune System. Food contains vitamins and nutrients that increase the body’s immune system performance. An improvement in your immune system can effectively fight against common diseases, banishing those frequent and irritating common colds. Foods containing omega 3 fatty acids are good for the heart and prevents inflammation. Some foods help fight bad cholesterol, others can neutralise free radicals, and plenty of others combat numerous ailments – so getting your nutrition right can also play a key part in defying the ageing process, helping skin, hair and nails look healthier.
- Enhanced Physique. Eating the right foods, along with a proper exercise regime, can help prevent obesity as well as build your body. The modern consumer is constantly having body image thrust in their face by the media and many are now inspired by the different healthy diets that experts share in order to have the ‘beautiful body’. While perfecting nutrition intake can help achieve body satisfaction, don’t forget about the mental benefits that also come with improved diet and health.
The key facts
- A healthy diet helps to protect against malnutrition in all its forms, as well as noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), including such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer. Unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity are leading global risks to health.
- Healthy dietary practices start early in life – breastfeeding fosters healthy growth and improves cognitive development, and may have longer-term health benefits such as reducing the risk of becoming overweight or obese and developing NCDs later in life.
- Energy intake (calories) should be in balance with energy expenditure. To avoid unhealthy weight gain, total fat should not exceed 30% of total energy intake. Intake of saturated fats should be less than 10% of total energy intake, and intake of trans-fats less than 1% of total energy intake, with a shift in fat consumption away from saturated fats and trans-fats to unsaturated fats, and towards the goal of eliminating industrially-produced trans-fats.
- Limiting the intake of free sugars to less than 10% of total energy intake is part of a healthy diet. A further reduction to less than 5% of total energy intake is suggested for additional health benefits.
- Keeping salt intake to less than 5 g per day (equivalent to sodium intake of less than 2 g per day) helps to prevent hypertension, and reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke in the adult population.
- WHO Member States have agreed to reduce the global population’s intake of salt by 30% by 2025; they have also agreed to halt the rise in diabetes and obesity in adults and adolescents as well as in childhood overweight by 2025.
World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/healthy-diet
Good nutrition is not just about eating the right kinds of foods to satisfy our hunger, it is about ensuring a healthy functioning body. Combined with a good exercise plan, eating healthy foods (you can eat healthy on a budget) can make us perform better in our daily activities, which all helps us achieve that ‘feel-good-factor’! Would you put diesel in a petrol car? No. So don’t do the same to your own body!