Nutrition is not only important for life, but also for a healthy life. Learn about the relation between what you eat and how you feel.

We have all heard the old saying “you are what you eat.” And it’s still true. If you stick to a healthy diet full of vitamins and minerals, your body reflects it. You feel energized, healthy and just all-around great. However, individuals who limit their diet to junk foods will doubtless suffer the consequences of not giving their bodies what they need to thrive. The result is not only fatigue and low energy, but poor health as well. Understanding this clear relation between your diet and your health may spur you to make better dietary choices.

Your Health and Your Diet: What Your Body Needs

“Food is important. Individuals take it for granted, but we require nutrients,” says Anne Wolf, RD, a specialist at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. Wolf cites as one example the old days when sailors crossed the ocean for months without actual nutrition. As a result, they ended up with scurvy because of a lack of vitamin C from citrus fruits. Vitamin C and other vitamins and minerals are important to keep all the different parts of the body healthy and working — else, we get sick.

Every little thing that you do happens because of the nutrients that you give your body. Says Wolf, “Food gives us the fuel to think and the vitality to move our muscles. The micronutrients, the vitamins, the minerals are there so that our bodies can work. You require food not just to manage health, but to feel better.”

And the only way the body will get the many nutrients needed to stay healthy and function are by eating a wide variety of healthy foods.

Your Health and Your Diet: The Guidelines

The U.S. Branch of Agriculture’s food pyramid and the everyday food recommendations were established after extensive research and continue to be updated as more is learned about the part of nutrition in good health. Their goal is to make sure that individuals understand all the different nutrients their bodies need to stay healthy.

Food went from being a necessary to simply function to being the key to enabling the body to be at its functional best, says Wolf. Research shows that the correct nutrition enhances health and that getting enough of certain vitamins and minerals can also lower disease risk.

Your Health and Your Diet: Poor Diet, Poor Health

Numerous foods have a huge effect on heart health. Research has long shown that vegetables and fruits and a diet rich in whole grains and low in saturated fats can help protect the body from heart disease and high blood pressure, while a diet high in saturated and trans fats without enough vegetables and fruits can really cause those diseases.

Even small diet deficiencies can have an enormously negative effect on your health. The most common health issue due to a lack of nutrients in the United States is iron deficiency, says Wolf. Menstruating girls and ladies require plenty of iron in their diets to replace what they lose each month during their periods. Iron is also an essential nutrient for infants, kids, and developing adolescents.

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