The Influence Of Food, Diet And Eating Habits Upon Body Weight, Self-Esteem, Health And Disease. The Importance Of A Balanced Diet To Provide Essential Nutrition Required For Health And Wellbeing.

Diet And Nutrition

Diet and Nutrition

Good nutrition is essential for leading a healthy lifestyle, whilst an unhealthy diet is a major risk factor for a number of chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and cancer. Combined with physical activity, our diet will help us to reach and maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of these chronic diseases, as well as boosting our overall health. By changing our food choices, we can help protect ourselves from these health problems.

Unhealthy diets are largely responsible for the increasing obesity epidemic now existing in many countries. In the United States alone, roughly one-third of adults (34%) are obese and approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) children and adolescents are obese. Many people with a healthy weight also suffer from the effects of poor diets, contributing to major health risks that can result in illness and even death. These include heart disease, hypertension (high blood pressure), type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and certain types of cancer.

The risk factors for adult chronic diseases, like hypertension and type 2 diabetes, are now increasingly present in younger age groups, often caused by unhealthy eating habits and increased weight gain. Dietary habits established in childhood often continue into adulthood, so providing our children with healthy food habits in their formative years will assist them to remain healthy throughout the rest of their lives.

The WHO estimates that 2.7 million deaths are attributable to a diet low in fruit and vegetable every year. Globally it is estimated to cause about 19% of gastrointestinal cancer, 31% of ischaemic heart disease, and 11% of strokes, thus making it one of the leading preventable causes of death worldwide.

Nutrition And Health

Diet And Disease - Causes

Fast Foods - Diet and Disease

Modern living has led to technological advances in food manufacture, supply and consumption upon a previously unprecedented scale. We no longer expend our energy upon hunting, cultivating, transporting, preparing and cooking our food, because it's all now readily available to either drive in our cars and collect from the shelves in stores, or simply order to be delivered to our homes. In order to maximise profits, food manufactures have attempted to sell us as much mass produced, high calorific, low-cost food as possible, thus contributing to these growing contemporary diseases and deterioration of health.

In addition to purchasing and consuming unhealthy food we also eat too much food - which our sedentary lifestyles prevent us from burning off through physical activity, and thus we gain surplus weight and increase the risk of suffering numerous associated health conditions. These diseases are also associated with:

  • More high fat and high sugar foods present in the diet of affluent developed countries
  • Higher intake of meat and dairy products
  • Increased consumption of refined foods and flour products, such as white bread or white pasta
  • More processed, cooked, and commercially provided food products which have replaced seasonal, freshly prepared, locally available foods

Healthy Diet Benefits

Healthy Diet Benefits

The relationship between diet, body weight, chronic disease risk, and overall health simply cannot be overstated. We need to eat healthily, in order to get all the essential nutrients our body needs to become healthy, active, and fit - especially when combined with a physically active lifestyle.

A healthy diet including balanced amounts of grain, fruit, vegetables, beans, oils, and a variety protein sources contains all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals required to help prevent the onset of many common illnesses, and can actually reduce the risks that are associated with chronic diseases such as heart disease, hypertension, stroke, diabetes and cancer.

Heart Disease

Eating food high in saturated fat can raise cholesterol and triglyceride levels, leading to arterial plaque deposits, which can lead to cardiac arrest, stroke and heart disease. Consuming healthy low saturated fats such as those found in olive oil, avocados, oily fish, various nuts and seeds helps lower cholesterol levels and protect our heart from these diseases.

Diabetes

High calorie foods, including white bread, fruit juice, sugary drinks and ice cream, raise blood sugar levels rapidly. If continued, these sudden glucose spikes can lead to insulin resistance, and eventually result in type 2 diabetes. Carbohydrates, found in natural, unrefined foods such as whole grain bread, oatmeal and brown rice, release sugar into the bloodstream more slowly, thus regulating blood sugar levels instead.

Cancer

Fruits and vegetables are packed full of antioxidants, which act to neutralise and eliminate toxic cells from the body, thus assisting to combat many varieties of cancer and also slowing down cell degeneration and the process of aging.

Weight Loss and Obesity

Eating healthily also helps to prevent obesity - smaller amounts of healthy food help us to lose weight and sustain weight loss long term. Replacing high-fat, high-calorie foods with smaller portions of fruit, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains will reduce calorie intake and assist weight loss and maintenance of a healthy weight. The fiber contained in whole grains, fruits and vegetables promotes healthy bowel movement and keeps us full longer than foods loaded with sugar and other additives. This results in eating less and thus loss and regulation of otherwise surplus weight.

The benefits of eating healthy food cannot be overstated and changing our dietary habits is essential if we wish to live long and active lives.