How important is nutrition? It is so important that the lack of it contributes to the death of about 11 million people around the world every year – and many of these people have enough to eat.
These men and women eat several meals a day as well as lots of snacks, but yet they suffer from poor nutrition and it eventually cuts their lives short.
If poor nutrition isn’t a lack of food, what is it?
Poor nutrition occurs when our body does not receive all the nutrients that it needs from the food that we eat.
Poor nutrition used to be primarily a problem in developing countries, but it is becoming more and more prominent in first-world countries because people eat too many nutrient-poor foods.
Nutrient-poor foods explained: Hamburger vs. Carrots
All the foods around you can be categorized as either nutrient-poor or nutrient-rich. Nutrient-poor foods have a few beneficial nutrients, but they also contain many harmful ingredients. Nutrient-rich foods, on the other hand, are packed with healthy nutrients and have only minimal problem ingredients.
Most processed foods fall into the nutrient-poor category because they lose most of their original nutrients and are combined with chemical preservatives, dyes, artificial flavors, and excessive amounts of sodium and/or refined sugar during processing.
The common fast-food hamburger is a good example of a processed food that is nutrient-poor. Take a look at what it contains:
Hamburgers and other forms of fast food, as well as canned goods, freezer dinners, and many other convenience foods, are all heavily processed. Yes, they are convenient. They often have appealing flavors and almost everyone eats them. It is a reality, though, that they lack nutrients and are full of harmful ingredients.
Anyone who bases their diet on nutrient-poor foods is at serious risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other serious health conditions that reduce quality of life and lead to death.
Unprocessed foods, also called whole or fresh foods, are the direct opposite of nutrient-poor foods. Whole foods overflow with life-sustaining nutrients and contain almost no harmful ingredients. The nutrient-rich category of foods includes high-quality protein, fresh fruits and vegetables, leafy greens, and whole grains.
We are going to use carrots as an example of a nutrient-rich food. Here’s a list of the nutrients and harmful ingredients that they contain:
Isn’t it amazing to see the drastic difference in the nutrition provided by nutrient-poor and nutrient-rich foods?
Nutrient-poor foods may be able to fill our stomachs and satisfy our tastebuds for a while, but they result in poor-nutrition and over time rob us of our quality of life, our health and even our life itself.
In comparison, nutrient-rich foods give us good nutrition that nurtures our bodies and gives us many benefits.
What benefits do we receive from good nutrition?
- A wide array of wonderful flavors – Processed foods have a limited selection of flavors that are based on either salt or refined sugar. Unprocessed have a much wider array of flavors. These wholesome flavors are surprisingly complex and much more satisfying than salt or sugar.
- An easier time maintaining a healthy weight – Nutrient-poor foods tend to be energy-dense which means that they have a lot of carbohydrates that our bodies quickly convert into energy and then store as fat.
Nutrient-rich foods have fewer carbohydrates and more fiber which helps our bodies to create energy at a steady rate and burn it instead of storing it on our hips or around our middles.
- Increased mobility – A diet full of nutrient-rich foods automatically helps us to burn fat and lose weight. These eases the burden on our joints, tendons, ligaments and muscles and gives us greater mobility. Along with that, losing weight helps us to feel better so that we want to be more active.
- Higher and steadier energy levels – The processed carbohydrates found in nutrient-poor foods spike our blood sugar and give us a burst of energy that is then followed by a discouraging slump.
As mentioned earlier, nutrient-rich foods contain both carbohydrates and fiber. This combination of nutrients helps our bodies to process the carbohydrates slowly. This keeps our blood sugar stable and gives us higher levels of energy that remain constant for a longer period of time.
- Reduced risk of developing serious diseases – Good-nutrition gives our bodies everything that it needs to function efficiently, which includes healing itself and defend itself from harmful invaders. As a result, our risk of developing serious diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, strokes, high cholesterol and cancer, decreases.
- Increased immunity – Nutrient-rich foods build up our immunity at every level. They help to strengthen our skin, repair and renew the mucus membranes lining our digestive tract, and make sure that our lymphocytes, neutrophils, and monocytes are able to identify microbes and destroy them efficiently.
- Healthy cognition and brain function – Good nutrition (and poor nutrition!) affects every part of our bodies including the brain. Eating foods that are full of healthy nutrients boosts blood flow and waste disposal in the brain. This increases alertness and our ability to reason, react appropriately to circumstances around us and recall memories.
We conclude that nutrition is very important and the type of nutrition that we give our bodies strongly influences our quality of life. Eating a diet full of nutrient-rich foods gives our bodies the quality protein, high-fiber carbs, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals that we need to live, feel amazing and enjoy our lives to the max.