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What is the Connection Between Health and Nutrition?

By Synthia L. Rose
Updated May 17, 2024
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Good health is largely dependent on good nutrition, so much so that doctors trace many physical and emotional ailments back to a diet deficient in vitamins and minerals. Food is the primary source for health and nutrition, although vitamins and supplements act as substitutes. Many medicines and drugs designed to improve health contain synthetic replicas of enzymes and chemicals found in nutrient-dense foods. A well-balanced diet that offers consistent nutrition is often extolled for encouraging long life, lowering the incidence of disease, and helping sick people recover. In contrast, inadequate nutrition and poor-quality foods can generally cut life span and subject a person to a range of diseases and deformities.

The body needs fuel and building-blocks in order to create the energy it needs for metabolism, elimination of wastes, and execution of its immune, digestive, cardiovascular, nervous, and respiratory systems. Individual parts of the body rely on specific nutrients. For example, the brain depends on carbohydrates, fatty acids, iron, iodine, and B-12 vitamins in order to function with clarity and efficiency. Bone health depends on calcium and boron; protein and potassium are some of the nutrients that fuel muscle health. Constipation, colon cancer, and hemorrhoids can be greatly reduced by eating enough fiber so that the colon is healthy enough to work properly.

A balanced combination of foods can usually provide all the health and nutrition necessary to excel at most daily activities. Daily needs for most everyone include four or more servings of fruits and vegetables, three or more servings of protein, and four or more servings of breads and cereal. At least two servings of dairy are also recommended by dieticians. Health and nutrition labels on the back of so-called junk foods reveal that most of them lack substantial vitamins, minerals, and nutritional value. Many physicians recommend avoiding such processed and prepackaged junk food altogether.

Wellness-seekers often plan their meals ahead of time to ensure regular health and nutrition. One general rule that many people follow is the plan to eat one protein, one dairy, one fruit, and one bread or cereal item for breakfast. The protein can be red meat, fish, chicken, eggs, beans, or even algae. For lunch, a general guideline is to eat one protein, one fruit, one milk item, and one bread item. Two vegetables at dinner along with one protein, one fruit and one grain can cap the day and deliver all the required servings of the various food groups.

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Discussion Comments
By turquoise — On Aug 15, 2012

@honeybees-- I absolutely agree with you. The connection between health and nutrition needs to be instilled in children from a young age. That's the only way we can have healthy generations who make wise decisions about their nutrition and lifestyle. Especially considering how widespread unhealthy, processed foods have become, child health and nutrition is at risk.

I remember the lunch menus from when I was growing up and it wasn't very good. There was a lot of canned food. I don't think canned food is very healthy. For example, why can't they give kids a whole apple instead of those canned fruit cocktails in sugar syrup? There was a lot of fried foods and not enough veggies in our menus too from what I remember. But I'm glad to hear things are changing these days.

By stoneMason — On Aug 14, 2012

@John57-- That's great. I wish I had that much sense before. I could have maintained my health and delayed my diabetes by a decade at least.

I have type two diabetes. It runs in the family, but I'm the youngest member of my family to have developed it because of my bad eating habits. I used to be addicted to junk food, especially sweets. I adored chocolates, cake, cookies. I used to fill myself up with these foods instead of eating real, wholesome food. No wonder I got diabetes so early.

Now I'm on a diabetic diet which is basically how I should have been eating anyway. I don't have processed foods or sugar. I get my sugar needs from whole fruit. I eat lots of veggies now, lean meats, milk products, eggs, beans and grains. My diabetes is under control and I've lost some weight too.

By candyquilt — On Aug 13, 2012

@seag47-- I bet that's what happened because I experienced the same thing recently.

I started college two years ago and being away from home, I didn't pay enough attention to my nutrition. I didn't eat healthy food and didn't eat much in general. After my first year, I started getting sick very often just as you had! I was down with the flu or had allergies several times a year. I was also feeling tired constantly and lost my energy.

During one of my vacations at home, my mom forced me to see the doctor and I had several blood tests done. It turns our I was deficient in both iron and magnesium, two very important nutrients for our body. As soon as I started eating better and after taking supplements, all my levels went back to normal. I'm not getting sick as much anymore and I feel more energetic. I learned from this experience that health and nutrition are directly related.

By sunshined — On Aug 13, 2012

One of the biggest challenges we face when it comes to eating healthy is our lifestyle. It takes planning and preparation to eat right. I know the more I am on the run, the easier it is to stop and grab some fast food.

Even though this isn't good for me, it seems like the easiest solution sometimes. Most fast food restaurants are offering healthier choices, which has helped. Just because the healthy choices are there though, doesn't mean that is what I always go for.

There are many more health and nutrition products on the supermarket shelves than there used to be too. If I wanted health food before, I always had to make a special trip to a health food store. Now I can get a lot of that healthy food at my local grocery store.

By John57 — On Aug 13, 2012

It seems like the guidelines and recommendations for the amount of nutrients we are supposed to get every day changes all the time. I just try to focus on making sure the food choices I make are healthy ones.

I avoid white flour, white sugar and processed foods as much as I can. I try to eat foods that are in their natural state without too much processing. I think this gives me the best overall balance between good health and nutrition.

By Mykol — On Aug 12, 2012

I am not a very big person, and if I got all the nutrition I needed from my food every day, I think I would be consuming way too many calories.

I rely on nutritional supplements to help me get the adequate nutrition I need. I spend quite a bit of time and money at the health and nutrition store reading labels and trying to decide on the best nutritional products.

This doesn't mean I eat junk food and rely on supplements to give me all the proper nutrition. I eat healthy food, but just try not to consume so many calories.

By OeKc05 — On Aug 12, 2012

@seag47 – I remember those old food pyramids. I have read various health and nutrition articles in the past few years, and they all seem to point to getting several foods from each food group every day.

I don't adhere to this system. If I want just meat and a vegetable for dinner, that's what I'm going to have. If I want only milk and cereal for breakfast, then that's what I'll eat.

I believe I'm pretty healthy, because even though I don't get the recommended amounts of food from each group, I do get some each day. I really don't feel like I'm missing out on any extra healthiness because of this.

By honeybees — On Aug 11, 2012

It seems like there is more emphasis placed on the connection between health and nutrition than there used to be. There are many school systems who are changing their lunch menus because they realize how strong the connection is between kids health and nutrition.

I think all of these changes are positive, even though there are some people who don't support them. The younger we can teach out kids to eat healthy, the better off they will be.

I have even had my kids teach me a thing or two about nutrition they learned at school. I try to set a good example for them by eating right and making sure they have healthy food choices, but it is encouraging when they are also teaching me a few things.

By lighth0se33 — On Aug 11, 2012

I'm all for natural health and nutrition. I don't like taking vitamins or herbs to improve my health. I think that we can get everything that we need through food.

My diet used to be filled with bad foods that offered no nutrition. I felt really tired and nauseated most of the time, so I decided to see if improving my diet really could make me feel healthier.

I switched from white bread to wheat, and I began eating whole grain cereals instead of sugary puffs. I replaced cookies with fruits and potato chips with vegetables, and in just a couple of days, I felt like my whole system had been cleansed.

I felt healthier than I even thought possible. I have been eating nutritiously ever since, because I never want to go back to that old feeling.

By giddion — On Aug 11, 2012

I think that health and nutrition systems in schools have come a long way. I can remember being in school in the eighties and drinking soda at lunch. These days, kids can't even get soda at school, because the vending machines have been removed.

All the lunch menus have been revised to include healthier choices. The children may not be nuts about this, but it is for their own good.

They may go home and eat poorly, but at least for a little while each weekday, they have to eat nutritious food. I can't help but believe that this will have a positive impact on their health.

By seag47 — On Aug 10, 2012

Health and nutrition in school were drilled into our heads as children. I remember the food pyramid and the food groups, and I believe that those have changed a little over the years.

At the time, I didn't eat a well-balanced diet. I snacked a lot on processed foods, and I was really picky about what I would eat during meals. I wonder if this is why I got sick so often, because it seemed that every illness that went around found its way to me.

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