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The importance of nutrition

Having optimum nutrition can prevent us from suffering from severe diseases such as  diabetes type 2. 

But what exactly defines optimum nutrition? It’s the one that provides the necessary nutrients,  both in quality and quantity, for maintaining long-term good health and preventing diseases.  

What is nutrition? 

According to Cambridge Dictionary, firstly, nutrition is the process of taking in and using  food; on the other hand, it is the science that studies the nutrients and how the body uses them. 

As we know, food and water are necessary to build up our body and keep it healthy. Every  food and liquid contains proteins, carbohydrates, fats, etc. These play different roles in order to affect  our body: 

  • Proteins. Made of branched-chain amino acids (BCAA), they are the principal source  when discussing muscle and immune system building. Proteins also help in hormones  and enzyme formation, playing various roles in our body such as metabolism or sexual  development. Some of the best protein sources are legumes such as lentils or beans,  tofu, chicken and turkey meat and eggs. 

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  • Carbohydrates. They are the fuel for our bodies, giving us energy when they grow into  glucose. If they are taken regularly and in controlled portions, they shouldn’t cause any  weight gain. There are two types of carbohydrates depending on the foodstuffs they are  present in: 

Simple carbohydrates: like fructose, lactose and glucose. 

Complex carbohydrates: present in food like bread, rice, cereals and high in fiber  vegetables. 

  • Fats. Beyond the extended idea that fats will surely make us gain weight, these nutrients  play an essential role in keeping the body temperature and also as an energy source  when needed. There are three types of fats: 

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Saturated: found in butter, pork meat or charcuterie. An abusive consumption can  cause swelling, high cholesterol levels, etc. 

Unsaturated: found in olive oil, bluefish, avocado, or nuts. They are hugely healthy  eliciting an improvement in the circulatory system and having excellent anti inflammatories properties. 

Hydrogenated [transgenic (trans)]: present in processed food such as hot dogs,  hamburgers, or soda. These types of fats are not beneficial for our health and their  consumption should be restricted in a normal, healthy diet. High consumption of these  fats will increase the risk of developing any cardiovascular disease.

  • Vitamins. A vitamin is an organic compound that regulates our body processes, playing  an important role to make it work properly. Vitamins are needed to grow up and develop  normally; there are 13 necessary vitamins for our body, most of them assimilated during  our daily life through our diet, presuming we have a balanced one, even our body can  produce some of them, like vitamins D and K. 

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It has to be known that each vitamin has a specific function, while a low level of any of them will  assuredly cause a deficiency disease like avitaminosis (vitamin A deficiency). Minerals. Protagonists of the regulation of our body processes and tissues, minerals,  same as vitamins, make our body work properly; they can be soaked up through a  balanced diet, so there is no need of taking any supplement unless there is a concrete  mineral deficiency like anaemia (Iron deficiency) 

Diseases caused by malnutrition

Seems primary that good nutrition can help keeping good health, by the same token, bad  nutrition brings, as a result, a bad medical condition, but how bad can it be? Heart diseases. As seen in this article, some nutrients can cause an increase in  cholesterol levels narrowing our blood vessels and increasing our blood pressure. All of  these problems increase the risk of suffering several cardiovascular diseases such as  myocardial infarction (heart attack) and myocardial hypertrophies, both of them being a  leading cause of premature and sudden death. 

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  • Diabetes Mellitus type 2. Poor nutrition will increase our body weight, and it increases  the risk of developing Diabetes type 2, where our bodies, due to the high consumption of  high sugar-containing products, produce a change in our pancreas (organ whose function  is to produce insulin to synthesize glucose) making it useless and developing the disease. 
  • Cancer. Several recent studies have shown the relationship between a bad diet and the  risk of suffering different types of cancer such as gastric cancer or colon cancer. Anorexia: On the other hand, not having a good amount of necessary nutrients (seen in  some eating disorders) can cause severe problems in our body.

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Nutrition guidelines

In general terms, an appropriate nutrition should contain mainly: 

  • An extensive number of fruits and vegetables; it is highly recommendable to eat the whole  fruit instead of making juice since all the fiber goes away. It is also recommended to eat  unpeeled fruit, as far as, again, a big part of the fiber is contained there.  
  • Whole grain, from bread to pasta. 
  • Animal and vegetable proteins. 
  • Vegetable oils, prioritizing olive oil consumption. 
  • Water, not a certain quantity, but it isn’t recommendable to wait to be thirsty to drink some. 

And which foods should have a controlled intake? 

  • Saturated and trans fats (reducing at its minimum the last ones). 
  • Added sugar. 
  • Salt whilst it helps fluid retention whose most visual consequence is cellulite among the  non-external ones such as higher blood pressure. 

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WHO’s recommendations

  • Total fats intake shouldn’t overcome 30% 

less than 10% should correspond to saturated fats and 

trans fats have to be eliminated. 

  • Added sugar should represent, at most, 10% of the diet. 
  • Less than 2gr of salt per day. 

As there has been seen, the importance of nutrition can’t be denied. A good and balanced  nutrient intake is the key to following a proper diet capable of both preventing diseases and improving  life quality.

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