Health And Nutrition Category : Secondary School Level

Health And Nutrition

Category : Secondary School Level

The World Health Organization defines health as 'a state of complete physical, mental and social well- being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity'; and nutrition as 'an input to and foundation for health and Development’.


'A healthy body is a healthy mind’- that is an old adage that has stood the test of time. Nutrition is the most important factor in maintaining and keeping good health. Nutrition begins with food and includes everything that the body needs in order to live i.e. function and grow. Food that one eats regularly constitutes our diet. Dietary habits are habitual decisions an individual or culture makes. Although humans are omnivores, each culture holds some food preferences and some food taboos. Individual dietary choices may be more or less healthy. The choice of food may also vary according to an individual's genetic makeup, environment and health. For a significant section of the population, lack of food and malnutrition are the main impediments to healthy eating. Conversely, amongst the affluent, obesity is a larger concern.


Healthy nutrition, basically, is eating wholesome and balanced food from all the basic food groups; which consist of dairy group, poultry group, grains and pulses group, fruits and vegetables group, and some from fats, oils and sweets group, so as to get a healthy mix of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals. Proteins are needed as the building blocks and for the chemical machinery of the human body, carbohydrates for immediate fuel and energy, fats for long-term storage of fuel and energy, vitamins (e.g. A, B-complex, C, D, E, K) and minerals (e.g. calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, sodium) for maintaining good health. It is equally important to drink an adequate quantity of water, a guideline says eight glasses a day; and proper ingestion and absorption of essential food materials in the body. A good nutrition should be part of an overall healthy lifestyle including regular exercise, not smoking and not drinking alcohol, because food alone is not the solution to a longer and healthier life.


Healthy eating is also an important part of personal well-being as it drastically improves physical fitness, allows one to feel better and does wonders to personal health. It does not mean adopting a strict diet or giving up certain preferred foods, but limiting the fattening and harmful foods such as white-flour products, processed foods, solid hydrogenated fats, sweets and fast foods. Eating wrong could be deadly. Heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes have been directly linked to the way people eat. Eating habits can even influence some of the genetic problems e.g. the gradual bone thinning that results in osteoporosis which may be controlled if enough calcium is consumed, adequate vitamin-D levels are maintained, and weight-bearing exercises form a regular feature. Similarly, the possibility of genetically predisposed diabetes and coronary heart disease could be reduced by avoiding obesity and adopting a healthy regime of diet and physical exercise.


That infection and malnutrition are related is well known. Better nutrition means a stronger immune system, less illness and better health. Healthy children learn much better, healthy people are stronger. They are more productive and more adept at utilizing opportunities to gradually overcome poverty and hunger in a sustainable way.


Although death is inevitable; extending life through good health is possible. Nutrition is the key to health and longevity. 'Aging is contributed by compounds called free radicals which attach themselves to healthy cells making them lose their structure and function. Inclusion of antioxidants, readily available through many fruits and vegetables, in the diet could delay this process.


Let 'Food be our Medicine’ and not let 'Medicine become our Food'.


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