The question, Why is Nutrition Important, is a relatively easy one to answer. One of the basic causes of chronic disease is poor nutrition. There are many food myths, so it's important to familiarize yourself with facts about sugar, facts about fats (especially saturated fats), and follow some simple healthy eating guidelines that will bolster your immune system, keeping you from contracting chronic diseases, such as coronary heart disease and diabetes, in the first place.
A healthy eating plan incorporates healthy foods from a wide variety of food groups. The new food pyramid puts greater emphasis on consuming a wide range of foods, though still subscribes to the myth that fats are bad for you. So to answer the question, Why is Nutrition Important, we must understand how it relates to our health.
Your immune system can be either bolstered or damaged by what you choose to eat, and though it would be convenient if we could get all our necessary nutrients in the form of supplements and continue to eat the way we always have, nature does a much better job of combining the micronutrients and phytochemicals necessary for the body to properly absorb and utilize the nutrients in the food we eat.
In the 1930s Dr. Weston Price studied a number of indigenous cultures throughout the world who understood why nutrition is important. Though they had little knowledge of nutrition data, he found that in virtually every one, from tropical regions to the extreme north, people who were eating entirely according to the way their ancestors did were immune to chronic diseases.
Medical practitioners who served these populations confirmed the fact that diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, obesity, tuberculosis and gastrointestinal problems requiring surgical intervention did not occur until the people began incorporating foods of the local white population into their diet: sugar, white flour, vegetable oils, canned goods and other refined foods.
Though conventional wisdom has dictated that we avoid cholesterol and follow a low-fat diet if we want to avoid a heart attack, more recent studies have begun to dispute that idea. It's not so much the amount of fat you eat, but rather the type of fat that can be harmful to your health. And using more of the “good fats” can actually lower your level of bad cholesterol, reduce your risk of coronary heart disease and even help you lose weight!
Many are unaware of how important cholesterol is to the proper functioning of the body, due to common cholesterol myths. It strengthens cell walls, keeps your skin impermeable to water-soluble toxins, keeps bones strong, is the building block for production of the body's major steroid hormones, and allows you to digest and absorb the nutrients in your food.
Far from being the evil substance it has been made out to be by the media, some saturated fats are actually necessary and beneficial to your health.
Illnesses such as coronary heart disease and the prevalence of dangerous belly fat are increasingly being found to be caused by a number of factors inherent in our modern diet, including the excess consumption of vegetable oil and hydrogenated fat, too many refined carbohydrates in the form of sugar and white flour, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, particularly heart-protective magnesium and iodine, and not getting enough antioxidants, which protect your tissues from free radical damage.
Antimicrobial fats, such as the saturated fats of tropical oils rich in lauric acid, like coconut oil, once protected us from the viruses and bacteria that have been associated with the onset of pathogenic plaque that leads to coronary heart disease. These fats have all but disappeared from the food supply due to people's unwarranted fear of all saturated fats.
Refined carbohydrates, especially sugar, put an enormous strain on your immune system. The World Health Organization recommends that sugar should only constitute about 10% of your daily intake of calories, which amounts to only 200 calories per day in a typical 2000-calorie daily diet.
The excessive consumption of refined sugar leads to a number of health problems, and unfortunately it's an ingredient that is found in a large percentage of items on supermarket shelves, even those traditionally considered “healthy”.
Several studies have shown that eating sugar in excess leads to an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, obesity, hyperactivity, and tooth decay. In addition, sugar causes the depletion of important vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin-B, calcium, and magnesium, and depresses the immune system, leaving you more susceptible to bacterial and viral infections.
It is estimated that the average amount of refined sugar consumed by those who follow a typical western diet is a whopping 125 pounds per year!
Those colds that everyone seems to get around the holidays are often due to the excessive consumption of sweets at those holiday parties, coupled with close proximity to other people in overheated rooms.
One way of boosting your immune system is by taking bitter herbs, which aid digestion and give the liver a hand in cleaning out toxins.
Many illnesses can be greatly improved by changing what and how you eat. For instance, this excellent article on gout foods explains how gout sufferers can successfully treat their illness by a change of diet and lifestyle.
In regard to why nutrition is important in weight loss, if you want to lose weight while remaining healthy, avoid any fad diets, such as the fast food diet, as they place undue stress on many of your body's systems. The weight loss achieved during a detox diet is mostly due to the loss of fluid and muscle. Any detox diet that significantly restricts calories or relies on liquid-only consumption deprives the body of the essential nutrients it needs in order to function. The lack of needed vitamins and minerals usually gotten from food can cause inflammation and weaken the body's immune system, reducing its ability to fight infection.
Certain claims made by fans of detox-dieting can be misleading. For example, many report feeling less bloated; caused simply because they're eating less food. Those who report newly glowing skin are most likely experiencing the benefits of improved hydration rather than detoxification. And as for those dieters who report a reduction in headaches, chances are that it can be traced to decreased consumption of alcohol and caffeine.
Studies have shown that the practice of severe calorie restriction or skipping meals actually slows down your metabolism, making it all the more difficult to lose weight. A slow metabolism makes it hard for the body to perform its daily functions, and without adequate carbohydrate intake it will turn to consuming its own muscle for energy, which slows down the metabolism even further, as the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. With a slower metabolism, once you resume your normal eating patterns not only will you regain the weight you lost, but it's likely you'll gain even more back than what you had before you began the diet.
Following our healthy eating plans
can allow you to achieve a healthy weight range and will provide you
with healthy recipes to keep your body running at optimal levels well
into your senior years. Following good nutritional practices will definitely combat aging. You'll slow down the aging process and live a longer, more active life. Dont we all want that?
So why is nutrition important? The root of good health begins with what you eat. Fuel your body with healthy foods and it will reward you with years of vibrant health!
Top Photo: Alistair Williamson
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