Healthful Eating

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Why is eating healthy important? Many people today enjoy a greater abundance and variety of food than ever before. Nevertheless, countless health and nutritional problems arise from unbalanced diets and overeating. Many people ingest too many calories and too much fat, cholesterol, sugar, and salt and not nearly enough protective nutrients. At the same time, many people’s lives have also become increasingly sedentary. These patterns all add to the consequences of not eating healthy. Even though it may be difficult to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle, eating healthy has many benefits and is an important part of developing an overall healthy way of life.

There are many short and long-term benefits to eating healthy. Eating right can lead to a long and healthy life. Weight loss can also be attributed to eating a healthy diet in accordance with exercise. Other than staying in good shape, eating healthy can also help to maintain healthy hair, skin, and nails. Improved energy is another exceptional benefit of enjoying a healthy diet. Eating healthy also supports the immune system which can help to guard against many health problems and diseases. According to Dr. Christine H. Farlow, D.C. (2002) eating healthy can “prevent certain diseases known to be a related to diet and nutrition, particularly cancer, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity.” The United States government issues official dietary guidelines based on nutritional research. These describe an overall pattern of balanced diet and activity for good health. An important part in eating healthy and maintaining a balanced diet understands the Nutrition Facts label found on most packaged food products. The Nutrition Facts food label is designed to help the consumer make nutritious choices when selecting foods. The Nutrition Facts label offers information about serving size, calories, and several nutrients which helps to give an overall picture of the nutritional qualities of each food.

To live in good health, the human body needs proteins, fats, and carbohydrates as well as vitamins and minerals. Prepared Foods (1998) reports “an overwhelming 90% of people surveyed (178 million) consume low-calorie, reduced-fat and light foods and beverages.” A proper caloric intake is an important part of eating healthy. Healthful, balanced diets typically require about 2,000 to 3,000 calories each day, depending on weight and personal activity level. To maintain an ideal body weight, calories consumed must be offset by calories expended. To lose weight, less active people would generally have to reduce the amount of calories consumed more than someone who is more physically active. Protein is essential for the body’s muscles, skin, tissues, and almost every other body part. The official Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for adult men and women is about 55 grams of protein per day for a 150-pound person (Page, 2001). Page (2001) also states…Americans eat too much protein for good health. Unlike carnivorous animals whose body systems are adapted to a meat diet, humans who consume more than half of their calories as meat are at risk for fatal protein poisoning (a serious watchword for dieters on the new extra high-protein "zone" diets).

Even in the leanest cuts of meats many of the calories come from fat. Proteins from vegetable sources such as whole grains, nuts, and seeds can satisfy all of the body’s protein needs. Of the three main sources of calories (protein, fat, and carbohydrates), protein is the nutrient that is least likely to be stored as body fat. While many people may consume too much fat in their diets, avoiding it altogether is not beneficial either. Incorporating fat into a healthy diet “provides energy and essential fatty acids, carries other fat-soluble nutrients (vitamins)” and “is part of cell membranes, membranes around nerves, hormones, and bile (for fat digestion)” (WebMD, 2007). All food fats are mixtures of...
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