Is there a relationship between good nutrition and a longer, healthier life? The answer is “yes.” Although no food or food supplement is an infallible fountain of youth, eating the right amounts of the right foods, and avoiding others, can certainly improve your chances of living to a healthy old age. The question is, what are the right foods and the right amounts? It would take a book to cover this topic adequately, but we can discuss key points and review some research findings. To begin with, food can be classified into macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, fats and water) that supply energy and structural raw materials to the body, and micronutrients (vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals), which are required in small amounts to help regulate the body’s chemical processes. Fiber and other substances, although technically not nutrients, are also part of a healthy diet.
Obesity and calories – The US is experiencing an obesity epidemic. Is this bad? Of course, being obese is unhealthy; obesity is associated with earlier death, and greater risks of diabetes, heart
and some cancers5
How plump is obese? There are various
ways to measure obesity, but one of the
best is to know your body mass index or
BMI. (See chart on page 3) If your BMI is
greater than 26 you are considered
overweight, and if it is greater than 30, you
are probably obese.
How can we avoid or reverse obesity?
There is an industry devoted to this
question, with various diet books and diet
drugs or supplements promising effortless
weight-loss miracles. If even half were
true, we would all be slender. The bottom
line is that, “calories do count.” A calorie is
a measure of energy. In the case of diet
calories, we are speaking of the energy
stored in food. Every food calorie
consumed must be used to provide energy
for the body’s activities or be stored, so,
Calories Consumed – Calories Burned
= Net Calories Stored (as fat)