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Food nutrition has become an uprising issue in today’s society over the past few years. Since nutrition is a relatively broad topic, finding articles wasn’t too challenging. Shelly Nickols-Richardson says that “More than two-thirds of adults and nearly two-thirds of women in the United States remain overweight and obese, even as the prevalence of overweight and obesity has stabilized in recent years”. Good nutrition is an important part of leading a healthy lifestyle. Combined with physical activity, your diet can help you to reach and maintain a healthy weight.
The major causes of death, illness and disability in which diet and nutrition play an important role include coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, atherosclerosis, obesity, some forms of cancer, Type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, dental caries, gallbladder disease, dementia and nutritional anaemias. According to Peter Huth, “The DGA calls for individuals to maintain a healthy weight by controlling calorie intake, increasing physical activity and to consume nutrient-dense foods and beverages to ensure adequate nutrient intake within calorie needs.”BackgroundNutrition is how food affects the health and wellbeing of the body.
Food is essential—it provides vital nutrients for everyday life, and helps the body function and stay healthy. Food is comprised of macronutrients including protein, carbohydrate and fat that not only offer calories to fuel the body and give it energy but play specific roles in maintaining health. Food also supplies micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and phytochemicals that serve a variety of critical functions to ensure the body operates optimally.
To stay healthy we need a balanced diet. The consequences of not having a balanced diet are numerous: if you do not eat enough protein, you will not be able to grow properly; if you do not eat enough energy containing foods (eg carbohydrates and fat), you will feel very tired; and if you eat too much energy containing foods you will become overweight. Many people in the developed world eat too much of some types of food, for example a lot of saturated fats, and become overweight.
Obesity is not the only nutrition-related cause of disease onset and progression. Too much or too little of certain nutrients can also contribute to health issues. For instance, a lack of calcium in your diet can predispose you to developing osteoporosis, or weakening of your bones, while too much saturated fat can cause cardiovascular disease, and too few fruits and vegetables in your nutrition plan is associated with an increased incidence of cancer. Consuming foods from a wide variety of sources helps ensure your body has the nutrients it needs to avoid these health problems.
If you are not used to eating a healthy diet that promotes your well-being, making gradual changes can help you improve the way you eat in the long run. You can substitute water for high-calorie, sugary drinks, for example, and switch from full-fat to low-fat dairy products. Selecting lean meats instead of fatty cuts and whole-wheat grains instead of refined grains can lower your intake of unhealthy fats and increase your dietary fiber intake. Fresh fruits and vegetables contain less sodium than canned, and snacking on fresh, crunchy produce like carrots, apples and cucumber slices is healthier than the fats and salt in chips.
Protein – is needed to build, maintain and repair muscle, blood, skin and bones and other tissues and organs in the body. Foods rich in protein include meat, eggs, dairy and fish. Carbohydrate – provides the body with its main source of energy. Carbohydrates can be classified into two kinds; starches and sugars. Food rich in starches include rice, maize, wheat and potatoes and food rich in sugars include fruit, honey, sweets and chocolate bars.
Fat – This is the body’s secondary source of energy. Fat actually provides more energy/calories per gram than any other nutrient, but is more difficult to burn. Food rich in fats are oils, butter, lard, milk, cheese and some meat. Vitamins and Minerals – Vitamins and minerals are needed in very small amounts and are sometimes called micronutrients, but are essential for good health. They control many functions and processes in the body, and in the case of minerals also help build body tissue such as bones (calcium) and blood (iron). To learn more about specific vitamins and minerals see the Vitamins and Minerals information sheet below.
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