There is a clear relationship between nutrition and health, even if you don't always realize it. Everything you eat and drink affects how you feel. It is therefore important to take your diet into account when you want to improve your health.
In this article, we look at the correlation between health and healthy nutrition, what they have in common and why your diet is so important to your health. In this article, we also describe several common diseases and what nutrition can mean in that area.
What do diet and health have in common?
We, humans, need food to survive. Your body can survive only 3 to 4 days without water and about 3 weeks without food.
While this may sound like a long pperiod it is not healthy for your body and can have serious consequences.
Food provides us with essential nutrients, which can be divided into macronutrients and micronutrients
Macronutrients are carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. These nutrients give us the energy we need to function properly. Your entire body uses this energy: from your cells to your organs.
Carbohydrates are very important in this regard. They provide glucose; a sugar your brain can't live without.
Fats ensure that certain vitamins can be absorbed by your intestines and also provide a small protective layer in your body.
Proteins provide amino acids and calories to your body. In addition, proteins contribute to muscle recovery and are necessary to achieve muscle growth.
By micronutrients, we mean all vitamins and minerals that are available. You mainly get these nutrients from your diet, but some of them can also be produced by your body.
While these nutrients do not provide energy on their own, they are essential for the body as they help release the energy from the macros. They also all have different functions, whereby they support the body to keep you healthy.
If you are deficient in one or more micro- or macronutrients, you can quickly notice the effects. Many deficiencies result in physical complaints, but in some cases, you can also experience mental problems from a deficiency of these nutrients.
It is therefore important to follow a healthy and balanced diet. If for whatever reason you do not get enough micronutrients, you can always use supplements to support your daily dose.
What does a balanced diet look like?
This shows the balance between nutrition and health. The most famous example of this is the so-called “Fifth Wheel”. As the name suggests, it consists of five categories of foods that are important for a healthy body.
Below you will find a healthy food list with an overview of these categories and which foods are recommended.
Fruits and vegetables
You need at least 250 grams of vegetables and 200 grams of fruit per day. This can of course always be more, but these minimum limits ensure that you get enough nutrients.
This concerns fresh products or frozen products without added sugars, salts, and oils. Dried fruits and fruit juices with a lot of vitamins are also allowed in small amounts, as long as no sugars have been added.
Bread, grain products, and potatoes
Cereals, bread, and potatoes contain a lot of fiber. These substances are important for the nutrition and health of your gut. In addition, they result in a feeling of satiety.
It is recommended to consume only whole grain products, as they contain a lot of fiber. An adult needs between 4-6 slices of bread and 4-5 spoons of potatoes or other grain products (such as bulgur, rice, or pasta) per day.
Fish, meat, egg, dairy, nuts, and legumes
This category contains many protein-rich products, as this is important for building and maintaining your muscles. However, it is better not to eat too much of this. One serving of meat, fish, or a meat substitute per day is enough and you can drink 2 servings of dairy (or dairy substitutes) per day.
You can also eat a handful of unsalted nuts and a small piece of cheese. However, make sure you have enough variety so that you eat both a fatty fish and a lean piece of meat every week. This is the best method to maintain your diet and health.
Spreading and cooking fats
A lot of food is prepared in oil or butter. That is of course not a problem because we need these fats for a healthy body. Nevertheless, it is essential to pay attention to the type of fat.
Vegetable fats mainly contain HDL cholesterol; a type of cholesterol that helps your liver get rid of bad substances.
Other fats, such as butter, ghee, or palm oil, contain LDL cholesterol. This is the type of cholesterol that sticks to the lining of your arteries, reducing the flow of blood and leading to high blood pressure.
The Wheel of Five recommends eating 65 grams of spreading and cooking fats, and mainly using vegetable and low-fat oils.
Finally, there are the drinks. The healthiest thing to do is to drink plenty of water. Tea without additives and black coffee are also fine. You need about 1.5 to 2 liters of fluid per day for a healthy body.
Because of the caffeine, it is recommended to drink a maximum of four cups of black coffee per day. In principle, tea is allowed unlimited, except herbal tea. After all, some herbs can raise blood pressure.
Cookies, chips, alcohol, and fast food are not included in the Wheel of Five. Still, you can eat and drink it now and then, if you do it in moderation. Therefore, eat something large and unhealthy, such as a bag of chips or a pizza, no more than 3 times a week and something small, such as a cookie or a glass of wine, no more than 3 times a day.
Why your diet is important
But what exactly do diet and health have in common? And what are the risks of unhealthy eating?
Below you will find a list of the reasons why your diet is important and how food affects your health.
1. A healthy diet is good for your brain
A balanced diet is high in omega fatty acids. These fatty acids are extremely important for the nutrition and health development of your brain.
A 2010 study found that there is less depression in countries where more fish is consumed than in countries where almost no fish is consumed.
2. You reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease
Bad fats and little variety in diet can lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease; especially if your diet contains a lot of LDL cholesterol.
A balanced diet contains a lot of HDL cholesterol and other healthy nutrients, which reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. A Mediterranean diet has yielded the best results in this area so far.
3. You are less likely to be overweight
A balanced diet also includes a balanced calorie intake. If you eat a varied diet and don't snack too much outside your limits, the chance that you will become overweight is small.
Being overweight can cause many nutrition and health problems if the situation remains unchanged. To prevent obesity, it is therefore important to consume a few added sugars and to get enough fiber.
4. You have more energy thanks to nutrition and health
Carbohydrates provide your body with the most energy. However, what type of carbohydrate you eat affects how much energy you have during the day. Products with a lot of sugars give you a lot of energy for a short period but because your body burns this quickly, you end up in an energy dip afterward
This is also known as a “sugar dip”. When you eat a lot of fiber-rich products and products without added sugars, the carbohydrates are burned slowly, so that you can use the energy you get from your diet for longer. You also feel more energetic.
5. Your immune system is strengthened
Many micronutrients contain substances that are important for your immune system, such as antioxidants. After all, these substances can prevent and repair the damage. Other antioxidants help your antibodies fight against invaders.
If you eat an unbalanced diet, you often lack micronutrients. As a result, your body is insufficiently able to protect you against intruders. When you eat a balanced diet and get enough vitamins and minerals, your immune system is strengthened. This reduces the chance that you will suffer from illness and cold.
6. You broaden your horizons
While this has little to do with your physical diet and health, a balanced diet can broaden your horizons. You have the opportunity to try food from different cultures and so you come into contact with new experiences and interests. In this way you not only have a healthy body, but you also develop your mind.
Nutrition in health and disease
However, this is not a sign that you were doing badly, but that your body simply needs a little more help to fight the disease well.
It is wise to continue to eat healthy when you are sick; even if you don't feel like it.
Although you can recover quickly from the flu or a cold, more serious illnesses can also arise if you don't get enough nutrients. For example, an unbalanced diet can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.
In addition, a long-term unbalanced diet may even increase the risk of several cancers, according to the National Center for Chronic Diseases and Health.
Although the illness can never be completely prevented, you give your body a big head start by continuing to eat healthily.
The relationship between nutrition and health summarized
It is therefore important to continue to eat healthily and to be well informed about current developments in the field of healthy nutrition.
Your diet consists of two main categories: the macronutrients and the micronutrients. Together they provide the energy and the necessary substances to keep your body healthy and vital. You can easily get these substances by following a balanced diet.
The Wheel of Five offers a good example of a balanced diet. For example, it shows how much you need each day of certain nutrients and which of these you can best avoid. It also shows that you can still enjoy a snack, provided you don't do this too often.
Nutrition and health within a balanced diet can bring many benefits. This way you have less chance of cardiovascular disease, it is better for your brain, it can strengthen your immune system and it also broadens your horizons.
If you have an insufficient balance in your diet (long-term), this can lead to an increased risk of serious diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and even cancer. A balanced diet can never prevent this 100%, but it can give you a head start, significantly reducing the chance of these conditions.