Eating a balanced diet throughout life helps prevent malnutrition in all its forms, while preventing the development of non-communicable diseases and disorders, says the World Health Organization (WHO).
However, according to the same organization, increased production of processed foods, rapid urbanization and changes in lifestyles have led to changes in eating habits. and therefore many people consume more high-calorie foods, fats, free sugars and salt, and in addition, others do not eat enough fruits, vegetables and dietary fiber.
A varied, healthy and balanced diet is the key to maintaining a good state of health, and it is worth asking whether the individual is only eating or is in nutrition, as the difference between these two concepts is a key point in the care of an organism.
Food is a set of activities or actions by which individuals provide products to the body, and this includes the selection and preparation of food and its subsequent ingestion., explains nutritionist Anna Villarrasa, in an article published on the website Better with health.
When people eat, they choose and eat foods that provide nutrients, and that is exactly what allows them to maintain good health.
According to the American Medical Association’s Council on Food and Nutrition, nutrition is “the science of food, the nutrients and substances they contain, their actions, interactions, and balance in relation to health and disease.” And the process by which the body takes in, digests, absorbs, transports, uses and excretes food”.
In order for the body to remain in a healthy state, it is important not only to feed itself, but also to ensure that the products delivered to it provide the nutrients it needs.
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) asserts that healthy nutrition is essential to prevent diet-related risk factors, such as overweight and obesity, and related non-communicable diseases.
According to the aforementioned source, the consumption of foods and drinks with a high content of important nutrients such as salt, sugar, saturated fat and trans fat, for example, is associated with growth retardation and deficiency diseases.
Is food the same as nutrients?
For this reason, it is also important to be clear about the difference between food and nutrients. Foods are natural or industrial products that people eat to meet their physiological needs and are grouped into various categories such as dairy products, legumes, nuts, grains, fish and vegetables, explains Villarrasa.
On the contrary, nutrients are substances that are part of food. The body requires them to perform basic functions, as well as to maintain good health. They are divided into macronutrients and micronutrients.
Macronutrients are needed by the body in larger amounts and include carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, and fiber. Micronutrients are needed in smaller amounts and are related to vitamins and minerals. Better with Health ensures that antioxidants and phytonutrients are also included here.
Some of the foods that provide the body with the most nutrients include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, tubers, shellfish and fish, dairy products, nuts, lean meats, and healthy beverages.
WHO data indicates that people should consume at least 400 grams of fruits and vegetables per day to optimally utilize their nutrients, and according to an analysis by researchers at Harvard University, these foods should make up 50% of every main meal that people eat. day, to maintain a healthy lifestyle.