Nutrition involves the delivery of essential minerals required to promote optimal health and growth to cells and organisms. People need to eat to survive, but health-conscious individuals want to do more than survive. They want to choose a diet that optimises their health.
How do we know what an optimal diet is?
We know it should contain just the right amount of each nutrient, but what is the right amount? Is it the amount needed to prevent a deficiency? The amount needed to maintain a certain nutrient level in the blood, or the amount that minimises the risk of cancer?
For each nutrient, the optimal amount may vary depending on the parameter being measured. The optimum level is also different for each individual, depending on genetic make-up and the quantity of other nutrients in their diet. For example, men have different needs to women, growing children have different needs to adults, and athletes have different needs to sedentary individuals.
“To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art”- La Rochefoucauld
Assuming that the digestive system is working properly, optimal well-being and function can be encouraged through the consumption of a “healthy, balanced, diet”. “Healthy” eating involves eating food that promotes optimal health of all body systems and prevents the development of disease.
A “balanced” diet involves regulating quantities of the various food groups consumed.
Regardless of the underlying quality of the foods digested, over consumption of one food group at the expense of another has the potential to upset the body’s delicate balance.
In recent times, the word “diet” has become synonymous with cutting back on certain foods and calories in order to see physical change (usually weight loss). However, the word simply refers to a current eating pattern, i.e. all of the food and drink consumed by a person over a given period of time.
Everyone has a diet; some are good and others are not so good.