Please enable JavaScript to access this page. Medicine And Fitness: Sound Nutrition Affects Our Health And Well-Being

Sound Nutrition Affects Our Health And Well-Being

Nutrition is variously described as a bodily process of utilizing food, as the actual supply of nutrients from foods eaten, and as the science of metabolism as it pertains to nutrients taken in, digested, and delivered for use by the body. For those of us who are not scientists, it means healthy food, supplements, and other necessary things that build health and improve the quality of life.

Most of us know that there are high and low calorie foods. Calories are used to measure how much heat is produced in metabolism. Calories are not all bad; the ones that are combined with valuable nutrients provide energy. However, 'empty calories' in foods devoid of nutrients are detrimental to health. They can even be negatives, if their digestion drains stored vitamins and minerals from the body.

Whole, fresh foods hold out the best hope of a diet sufficient in vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial substances. For many generations, people lived on food that they produced or gathered themselves, and this food provided what they needed to maintain health and stave off illness. Vegetables from the garden, fruit off the trees, grain from the fields, and meat from the barnyard were staples of everyday diets.

When people moved to the cities and became dependent on store-bought food, this began to change. Foods were modified for commercial reasons, with either a disregard for health or an ignorance of what promotes it. Milk is one example. It was first pasteurized to kill tuberculosis germs and later homogenized, to make all milk look the same regardless of butterfat content. White bread became popular, even though much of the nutrition of wheat was lost when the bran was removed.

Today essential fatty acids are removed to prolong shelf life, fiber is lost when baked goods are valued for their soft texture, and sugar addiction cause people to seek satisfaction in empty calorie foods. Vegetables and fruits may be sold as fresh but transported from far away. Vitamins are fragile things, and their presence begins to decline as soon as the food is harvested.

An effort must be made to obtain foods in a natural state, as fresh as possible, and in quantity suited to daily activity. Food allergies or sensitivities should be taken into account. Sugary foods, refined foods, and packaged foods full of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives should be eliminated altogether or strictly limited. Children should be taught early on the value of a diet rich in good fats, plentiful fiber, adequate protein, and fruits and vegetables for vitamins and minerals.

Nutritional science involves more than food. Exercise such as walking, weight training, or body building is important; it tones muscles and the digestive tract and encourages regularity. It also results in deeper breathing, another factor for good health. Copious amounts of pure water, free of chemicals and impurities, are recommended by every health care professional. Getting enough deep, restorative sleep is also necessary for optimum well-being.

Anyone interested in a good quality of life, with freedom from pain and illness and enough energy to enjoy both work and play, must understand nutrition and assess their own diet. Much suffering and expense can thus be avoided.

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