UNDERSTANDING THE VALUE OF NUTRITION
Nutrition is the foundation for healthy living. However, we seem to have lost sight of this fact.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food,” said Hippocrates, the father of medicine, 2500 years ago. Yet, his wisdom was drowned out by the introduction of modern drug therapy in the 19th century.
Food stopped being medicine but what we are coming to realise is that what Hippocrates’ said is just as relevant today as it was back then.
Non-communicable diseases (NCD) such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer and chronic respiratory diseases are found to be the leading causes of death in our country, accounting for 60% of total deaths ever year in India1 as against the global average of 68%.
This figure is only set to go up given the sedentary lives we are leading today, which is giving rise to health issues like obesity, are only making us more susceptible to NCDs.
In the 1900s, the important role of a diet containing specific nutrition in disease prevention and health promotion came to the forefront. Good nutrition — or a balanced diet — is the key to sound mental and physical health. It gives the individual a general sense of wellbeing and helps keep ailments and diseases at bay. Nutrition therapy has an integral role in disease management.
A balanced diet provides all the nutrients in an adequate amount. Nutrients are defined as the substances found in food that keep our body functioning. Nutrients are divided into two parts: Macronutrients and Micronutrients. As the name suggests, we need macronutrients in larger quantities, which include carbohydrates, protein, fats, and fibres. Micronutrients comprise a broad spectrum of vitamins and minerals, which, though required in very minute quantities, are essential and play a major role in metabolism and immunity.