Nutrition is the name given to the process by which all living creatures absorb compounds essential for life. These compounds are known as nutrients and include proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins and water. With them, we can generate the energy we need to function, regulate and repair ourselves.
However, for optimum health, our bodies need other things as well, one of the most important of which is fiber. This is found only in plants – meat and fish do not contain any. Fiber is an essential part of a healthy, balanced diet and helps prevent heart disease, diabetes, weight gain and some cancers. It also improves digestive health.
Another essential element is calcium – a compound used to build and maintain bones. However, a nutritious diet is just one factor in achieving good health. It’s also important that the energy created by nutrition, i.e. calories, is actually used, i.e. we exercise. If it isn’t, two things happen:
The first is that we gain weight. This is due to the fact that our bodies store energy as fat in the anticipation that it may be needed at some other time – essentially, it’s a backup. Exactly the same thing happens if we eat too much – the body has more energy than it can use and rather than just throw it away, it stores it in the form of fat for a rainy day. Do this too often, as so many people do these days, and weight gain will be the inevitable result.
The second is that we become weak. This is because our bodies are controlled by muscles and without them we can do absolutely nothing. The more we use these muscles, the stronger and more efficient they become. This leads to increased physical strength, endurance and stamina. Our organs are controlled by muscles as well. For example, cardiac muscle in the heart is responsible for pumping blood around the body. The stronger all these muscles are, the greater the overall health of the body.
However, if we don’t exercise to use the energy, the opposite happens. Our muscles become weak and so we are able to do less physically – everything becomes an effort. More dangerous, however, is the effect on our vital organs, i.e. the heart, lungs, liver and the kidneys. Weak, under-used muscles in any of these results in reduced functionality that makes us feel unwell, restricts our ability to do basic things and, ultimately, are the cause of illness, disease and, all too often, premature death.
Our diets can also be affected by factors such as genetics, our environment, age and culture. Many people have to take these into account when deciding what they can and cannot eat. For example, there may be a family history of heart disease, or risk factors such as high blood pressure, that rule certain foods out. Young and active people need more food than older or less active ones. Also, people who are trying to lose weight can find it difficult to get the nutrients they need due to their necessarily restricted diet.
The information on this site shows how to ensure you have a healthy, balanced diet that will keep your body firing on all cylinders. This will, without doubt, be the single most effective thing you can do, to not just feel good but also vastly reduce the likelihood of getting dangerous conditions and diseases. The ones we are talking about are cancer, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes and osteoporosis. Currently, these are all rife, particularly in the western hemisphere, and ruin millions of lives every year. Much of it is preventable and a healthy diet is the starting point.
Some pertinent quotes:
“Let food be your medicine, and medicine be your food” – Hippocrates
“He who has health has hope, and he who has hope has everything.” – Arabian Proverb