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The Effects of Not Eating a Balanced Diet

by
author image Solomon Branch
Solomon Branch specializes in nutrition, health, acupuncture, herbal medicine and integrative medicine. He has a B.A. in English from George Mason University, as well as a master's degree in traditional Chinese medicine.
The Effects of Not Eating a Balanced Diet
Young woman napping on a couch. Photo Credit Ljupco/iStock/Getty Images

Your body requires variety and specific amounts of nutrients to function properly and perform the activities of daily life. If your body does not get those nutrients, which is common when eating an unbalanced diet, it can develop health problems. A common-sense approach, including eating from a variety of food groups and maintaining proper portion control, may help avoid any potential problems, as well as keep you healthy and vibrant in the process.

Gaining Weight

Simply consuming more food than your body needs is the primary cause of weight gain, but eating too many foods that are high in fat and sugar content is also a contributing factor. Your body requires a certain amount of sugar to function, but excess sugar -- referred to as glucose in its basic form in the body -- gets stored as fat. Excess fat, a common issue with fast food, not only causes you to gain weight, but it can strain your body, leading to disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 36 percent of adults in the United States are obese.

Improper Nourishment

Your body needs a certain amount of calories -- the basic energy unit of the body -- to function. Almost all foods have at least some calories, but not all foods have the proper nutrients your body needs. Sugary snacks, for instance, are often high in calories, but they are "empty calories," meaning they have none, or very little, of the important nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, that you need. Not getting enough nutrients can result in malnutrition. Mild symptoms of malnutrition include dizziness, fatigue and weight loss. In severe cases, symptoms such as hair loss, fainting and lack of menstruation can occur.

Disease States

If you body doesn't get enough of the proper nutrients, particularly antioxidants, your immune system will feel the effects. A weakened immune system makes you susceptible to ailments, such as the flu or common cold. Lack of proper nutrients can also affect your major organs, leading to -- or contributing to -- a variety of ailments. For example, one common problem that results from a diet high in sugar and processed carbohydrates -- a complex form of sugar -- is that your pancreas can become overworked. The pancreas produces a hormone called insulin, which helps break down sugars in the body. If you body doesn't utilize insulin properly, a diet high in sugars causes insulin production to increase exponentially, which can lead to the pancreas eventually shutting down or limiting insulin production -- a condition known as type-2 diabetes. When untreated, type-2 diabetes often leads to other problems, including fatigue, increased hunger and thirst, blurred vision and erectile dysfunction.

Basic Recommendations

A common-sense diet is the best approach, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. This includes a diet that is primarily plant-based, with plenty of fruits and vegetables. Whole grains and meats low in saturated fats are also recommended. With regard to fats, healthy fats, such as olive and canola oil and those found nuts and fatty fish, are best; avoid foods that contain trans fats or excess fats. Avoid or limit sugary and salty snacks, and maintain proper portion control. Consulting a qualified health practitioner for a diet more specific to your needs may also help.

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