but what we eat nevertheless helps us
to be much more than we are.”
A century ago our ancestors feared infectious and communicable diseases such as smallpox -- diseases that claimed many children’s lives and limited the average life expectancy of adults. Today far fewer infectious diseases threaten us, thanks to medical science’s ability to identify disease-causing microorganisms and develop vaccines. In developed nations, purification of water prevents the spread of infections, and immunizations protect individuals. Most people live well into their later years, and today’s average life expectancy far exceeds that of our ancestors (Whitney pp.646).
As the 20th century draws to a close medical science’s concerns differ significantly from those of earlier years. According to the Background on Adult Nutrition from the FamilyHaven site: “prior to World War II, Americans’ main nutritional problems stemmed from lack of sufficient food or variety of foods. Nutrition scientists of that era focused on defining essential nutrients, primarily vitamins, in order to outline the minimum food intake for good health.”
Diet has always played a vital role in supporting health. Today, over consumption of foods -- especially those high in fat -- is a major concern for people in the United States. When we look at the ten leading causes of illness and death in the United States, the top categories are heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. Diet influences the development of the chronic diseases. Taken together, these four diseases account for about two-thirds of the nation’s 2 million deaths each year (FamilyHaven: Food choices pp.15).
These “causes” are stated as if single conditions such as heart disease caused death, but most chronic diseases arise from multiple factors over many years. A person who died from heart failure may have had preexisting... [continues]
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(1999, 10). Nutrition and Health. StudyMode.com. Retrieved 10, 1999, from http://www.studymode.com/essays/Nutrition-Health-9890.html
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