The Connection Between Diet and Health
The human body needs food, which can be either complex or simple in structure. When a person eats food, the digestive system breaks it down into simple compounds called nutrients. The human body has a wide range of different types of food, although most people eat food in two main groups: animal and plant. Plant foods, like fruit and vegetables, are the richest source of nutrients. Animal foods, such as meat, fish and milk products, are the richest source of fat, calories and other nutrients.
Nutrients in food supply the body with energy, and together with oxygen, they are the main elements in our physical existence. The way that our bodies use food is highly complex, involving the brain, the digestive tract, the immune system, the body’s cells and tissues, and hormones. Our diet contributes substantially to our health through the food we eat and the way that we eat it. In fact, nutrition is the primary source of the diseases and ailments that we suffer from. Poor nutrition leads to anemia, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, cancer and a host of other disorders. Food deficiencies can result in weak muscles, fragile bones, mental retardation, learning disabilities and premature death.
The American Dietetic Association recommends that we eat six servings of fruits and vegetables per day, along with a variety of whole grains, legumes, seeds and nuts. We need a diverse range of nutrients to keep our bodies healthy. That’s why some scientists feel that the modern western diet does not provide the necessary balance of nutrients in most people’s daily diet. Instead, they believe that a wide range of foods from each food group should be eaten, along with vitamin supplements. This would involve a large number of foods, many of which are rarely seen in the U.S. diet today, including rice, beans, cereal grains, potatoes and seaweed.