A balanced diet provides your body with the vital nutrients it needs to build and maintain healthy cells, tissues and organs, which are crucial for proper growth and development. It includes a variety of foods, such as fresh vegetables and fruits, legumes, nuts, whole grains, lean meats, fish, unsaturated oils and low-fat dairy foods. It doesn't include processed and refined foods that can undermine health.
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Reduces Disease Risk
Eating a balanced diet can help protect you from certain diseases. It can help regulate your blood cholesterol levels, for example, and provide antioxidants, which help protect your cells from damage by unstable molecules known as free radicals. An article published in "Nursing Times" in January 2005 noted that combining a healthy diet with an active lifestyle has huge health benefits and helps reduce the risk of health conditions such as cancer and heart disease.
Processed and refined foods are typically loaded with saturated fats, sugar and calories, which can undermine weight control. When you consume more calories than your body can use for energy, it stores the surplus in fat cells. A Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion article published in April 2012 noted that strong and consistent evidence indicates adults and children who eat fast food are at increased risk for weight gain, especially if fast food is eaten more than once a week.
Omega-3 fatty acids, which are abundant in nutrient-rich foods such as fish and nuts, are important for transmitting signals from your eyes to your brain. They also affect people's moods and can improve depression. An article published in "Nutrition and Health" in 2006 noted dietary factors influence brain function day in and day out. It also said that consuming a diet high in saturated fat decreases learning and memory, while diets supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E or the curry spice curcumin help brain function.
Immune System Strength
Your immune system is a group of interconnected cells, tissues and organs that help protect your body from invasion from microorganisms such as bacteria, parasites and fungi. Scientists have long recognized that people who are malnourished are more vulnerable to infectious diseases. A balanced diet is full of the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that strengthen your immune system. An article published in "The British Journal of Nutrition" in November 1988 noted that consuming adequate nutrients is an important contributing factor in strengthening and maintaining your immune system, while not eating sufficient nutrients could impair and suppress immune system functions.
- University of Rochester Medical Center: Nutrition's Role in Disease Prevention
- Nursing Times: Understanding the Importance to Health of a Balanced Diet
- USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion: The Food Environment, Eating Out, and Body Weight: A Review of the Evidence
- Nutrition and Health: The Impact of Diet and Exercise on Brain Plasticity and Disease
- The British Journal of Nutrition: The Immune System: A Target for Functional Foods?
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Weight Control and Diet
- Today's Dietitian: Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Mood Disorders
- National Institutes of Health: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: Immune System
- Harvard Medical School: Harvard Health Publications: How to Boost Your Immune System