The Role of Nutrition in Preventive Healthcare: Eating for Wellness

woman preparing a healthy mealEating healthy is something that many of us are taught as young children. From sitting down at family dinners and being encouraged to eat our vegetables, to trying new and varied cuisines as we get older, nutrition is a way of life for some. For many, though, this can fall along the wayside. As obesity rates hit record highs, it’s important to understand how simple changes to our lifestyles can make a big difference to the quality of life that we have.

For those studying online courses in health, understanding the impact of nutrition on preventative healthcare is vital – it can motivate us to make healthier choices or consider alternatives when there are no suitable options. Let’s explore what makes nutrition so important – and how small changes can benefit our bodies immensely.

Nutrition is Vital for Healthy Living

There’s an old idea that goes along with healthy eating – coined by the French author Anthelme Brillat-Savarin in the early 19th century, that simply states you are what you eat. In the nearly two centuries since Anthelme penned those sentiments to paper, food has evolved from the homemade meals of old to the work of machines – for many developed nations, food is processed in factories, sent out to transport companies, and then onwards to stores and restaurants, where it is sold for human consumption.

Nutrition, and education about nutrition, is a vital part of encouraging healthy habits and creating standards that encourage healthy living. Programs operate at a state and federal level, encouraging people to eat healthy and in moderation, however, have limited impact. It’s important that healthy living is encouraged early – not only in educational settings but in all parts of life before adults start having the make their own food choices. By reinforcing positive food habits, the risks of chronic illness drop substantially.

What Makes Up Healthy Eating?

The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating provides a picture of the sorts of food groups adults should be consuming to maintain a healthy diet. In particular, it lists the following five food groups that should form an essential part of any nutritious meal plan:

Firstly, it’s recommended that vegetables and legumes/beans should form a large portion of any nutritional plan. Vegetables such as lettuce, cabbage, corn, and sweet potato are rich in water and fiber – if vegetables form a substantial part of your diet, you’ll find that you may feel fuller for longer.

Secondly, food such as grain and wholegrain-based products, such as rice, bread, and oats, are recommended in similar proportions to vegetables. These foods help control cholesterol and blood pressure and may help reduce the risk of chronic conditions such as heart disease.

In lesser quantities, it’s recommended that fruit, dairy, and lean meats also form part of your diet. These can have varied effects – for example, the consumption of dairy products can provide vital calcium for bone strength.

Finally, in small amounts and only sometimes, are highly processed foods recommended. Unfortunately, while they may taste delicious, these foods often have poor nutritional value – they may not help you feel full, and as a result, you may feel inclined to eat larger volumes of them to feel full.

bowl of fruit muesli

The Importance of Moderation

Where people once fought for food, instead there is relative simplicity – those with money can simply walk into a store, purchase what they need, and go on with their day – no need for hunting and gathering, foraging for foodstuffs, or fighting for scarcity in the developed world – the food is simply there.

That ease of access has caused difficulties, however. No longer needing to fight for food, people can simply eat whatever they like – and with adults living increasingly time-poor lifestyles, it becomes much easier to buy a pre-made meal from a fast-food retailer than to make meals at home. The result has been dire – with chronic conditions linked with poor nutritional health, such as obesity and type-2 diabetes, occurring at record levels within the global population. Some estimates predict that as much as 9% of the global population suffers from the effects of obesity – a truly dire number.

Moderation is a critical part of any form of healthy eating – no matter whether your diet consists of chocolate or cabbage, eating reasonable quantities remains critical to maintaining a healthy diet. It’s well documented that eating in moderation can be beneficial for maintaining a healthy balance, and it simply cannot be overstated.

When In Doubt, Seek Professional Advice

It’s important that if you’re unsure about what you should eat, don’t feel afraid to get in touch with a medical professional to seek nutritional advice. Practising good nutritional habits can lead to good health outcomes, and if acted upon early, may also reduce the risk of chronic illness and disease.

Eating healthy can sometimes seem difficult – however, fostering positive habits now can be incredibly beneficial in the long term. So, next time you’re looking at a takeaway restaurant, consider this – if you are what you eat, what would you like to eat today?

Remember to always combine a healthy diet with regular exercise for the best health benefits.

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