Did you ever give a thought to the food that you eat every day?
There are a lot of people who are conscious about their health and diet. They think that they are eating healthy food, but the reality is contrary.
Your food is healthy if it is free from toxins and has all the basic nutrients in the right quantity. Most of the time, we miss the second part and, this leads to either deficiency or abundance of some nutrients. This also leads to the malfunction of different parts of our body.
In our journey to understand a healthy diet and proper nutrition, let us first get some insight on a DIET.
As per Merriam-Webster, diet is food and drink regularly provided or consumed. It is habitual nourishment. It is a blend of a variety of food that we regularly consume on specific times of the day. These times of the day are our mealtimes when our body is conformed to require the fuel from these nutrients.
How does our diet become healthy or unhealthy?
Our body and consequently every organ of our body needs certain nutrients in specific quantities to function normally. If our diet contains all these nutrients and is free from chemicals and germs that are harmful to our body, then our diet is healthy.
If our diet is not balanced or contains germs or chemicals, then it is unhealthy. Let us now understand how nutrition or diet affects our life processes.
There is a strong association between our dietary habits and the risk of depression and anxiety.
The high caloric contents of the modern diet are a major promoter of malfunction of the cardiovascular and nervous systems.
Unhealthy diets weaken the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life, which is called neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity allows the neurons (nerve cells) in the brain to counteract injury and disease and to adjust to new situations or changes in the environment.
Most of the modern diets are rich in sugar. Diabetes has become a very common disease now, which is a gift of modern lifestyle. Diabetes reduces the capacity of the body to produce insulin, which has a major contribution to simplifying the sugar molecules.
Synaptic plasticity is a fundamental property of the nervous system and is widely considered a primary mechanism for learning and memory. Insulin is important for the control of synaptic plasticity and cognitive function as well. Although depression is not directly linked to diabetes, diabetes imposes a high risk of depression and mental illness.
Vitamin D deficiency, together with an unhealthy diet, may have harmful effects on the respiratory system in children leading to asthma and bronchitis.
Vitamin D deficiency and asthma share common risk factors. Reduced maternal intake of vitamin D during pregnancy increases the risk of childhood asthma or wheezing, and that vitamin D deficiency makes the children susceptible to asthma.
Digestive system and Excretory system
Every organ of our body is made up of cells. Cells need proper nutrients to work efficiently and to neutralize oxidants. Without proper nutrients and antioxidants, the cells will either malfunction or will die. They will not be able to produce functioning enzymes which are needed for smooth digestion. Diet with inadequate fiber leads to constipation which increases the risk of diverticular disease. A diet that is rich in fat and cholesterol leads to obesity and increases the risk of stones in the gall bladder.
Have you heard of the GUT?
The gut (gastrointestinal tract) is the long tube that starts at the mouth and ends at the back passage (anus).
The gut processes food across the digestive tract. The gut ecosystem contains hundreds of different species microbes, that are responsible for maintaining a healthy immune system, regulating digestion, and even regulating our mood. These diverse microbes prefer different kinds of food.
An unhealthy gut leads to different diseases across the digestive system.
Unhealthy maternal dietary patterns (high fat intake) during pregnancy can result in an alteration of fetal lung development, with increased risk of respiratory disorders.
Circulatory or cardiovascular system
Coronary heart disease is characterized by a narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis). Fatty deposits, or plaques, cling to the artery walls and can clog the arteries, making it more likely that a blood clot will form.
A heart attack occurs when a blood clot blocks one of the arteries of the heart. This prevents the flow of blood, cuts off the oxygen supply to the heart and damages or kills the heart cells.
Diet which has a high saturated fat content leads to higher waist circumference, high blood pressure, triglycerides, and lessens insulin resistance leading to diabetes which on being intense lead to coronary heart disease.
Sodium is an essential nutrient required for normal physiological function. Increasing sodium intake well beyond physiological requirements increases blood pressure.
Here are couple of movies which show the impact of unhealthy diet.
Now that you know the implications of an unhealthy diet and nutrition, it will be a good exercise to go back and check on your diet.
In my next blog post, I will give you some tips on how to improve your diet with small tweaks. This would neither change your eating habit nor increase your cooking and preparation efforts.
Eat well, live well, be well. 🙂