Most people know that good nutrition is important for good health. Recommended
Dietary Allowances (RDA) are the daily amounts of essential nutrients that will prevent
deficiencies in most healthy people. But not many people realize the importance a healthy
diet can have on their health for years to come. To help us stay healthy a person should
eat a variety of foods, maintain ideal weight, avoid too much fat, and eat foods with
enough starch and fiber. A good diet helps children grow, develop, and do well in school.
It also helps young and older adults to work productively and feel their best. A healthy
diet can also lessen the risk factors for obesity and high blood pressure. For our benefit,
the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of
Agriculture has issued Dietary Guidelines. These guidelines are designed to help
Americans choose the recommended number of daily servings from each of the five
different food groups; Bread, Meat, Vegetable, Fruit, and Dairy. The Nutrition Facts
Label is made to help you buy foods that will meet the Dietary Guidelines. Most
processed foods now carry nutrition information.
People need energy and essential nutrients. These nutrients are essential because the
body cannot make them and has to get them from food. Energy needs vary by age. Adults
need less food than younger and more active individuals. People who are less active or are
trying to lose weight will eat less food and have problems meeting their nutrient needs.
Almost all Americans need to be more active, because an inactive lifestyle is unhealthy. In
order to stay at the same body weight, people need to balance the amount of energy in
food with the amount of energy the body uses. People need to put more energy into daily
activities. The pattern of eating is also important. Snacks provide a large amount of
calories for many Americans. Unless nutritious snacks are part of the daily diet, snacking
will cause weight gain. Also binge eating and fasting will add to weight problems.
Maintaining weight in older people is important because they usually lose weight as they

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age. Some of that weight is muscle. People need to exercise regularly to maintain muscle,
to feel better and to reduce the risk of falls and broken bones.
The quality and variety of food in the United States allow almost everyone to have a
nutritious diet. Nutrients are divided into five major groups; proteins, carbohydrates, fats,
vitamins and minerals. Each of these food components have a special function in the body,
and all of them together are needed for overall health. The body uses energy to function
and keep itself at a constant temperature. Scientists have been able to find out that the
body gets its fuel from carbohydrates, fats, and protein.
Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are the most available foods in the world. Carbohydrates in foods, like
whole grain breads and cereals, provide calories and nutrients and also increase dietary
fiber. Dietary fiber, like lettuce, if eaten daily, can decrease the risk of colon cancer. If
there isn't enough carbohydrates in the body during exercise, the body tires faster.
Research has proven that a daily diet high in carbohydrates is helpful. Most sports
nutritionists recommend a meal high in carbohydrates 3 or 4 hours before an event.
Carbohydrates provide most of the energy in almost all people's diets. The best sources
for carbohydrates are grains, potatoes, vegetables, and fruits.
Fats
Everyone thinks that fat in the diet is bad, but really the body needs it. Fat provides
energy by giving calories to the body. They are the most concentrated source of energy in
the diet. People need to watch how much fat they eat, not do without it entirely. Because
fat sources have little water in them, they take up less room, so we eat more fat without
getting full. So that's why it is easy to get fat on a high-fat diet. Obesity increases the risk
for high blood pressure and eventually for stroke. It is also associated with heart disease.
There is evidence that certain kinds of cancer like colon, lung, and bladder cancer run in

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people who have high-fat diets. It is also known that breast and uterine cancer are more
common in obese women. Best sources of fat are margarine, vegetable/plant oils, nuts,
meats, cheese, and cream.
Protein
The main purpose of protein in the body is to build and repair tissues. Most of the
body's protein is located in the muscle tissue. Every cell