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We Are What We Eat

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Have you ever thought much about nutrition and what it means?

National Nutrition Month® began as a simple awareness week four decades ago. With popularity, since 1980 it has become a month-long observance and education outreach to Americans every March. Sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (the Academy), this global organization of food and nutrition professionals focuses on improving health through evidence-based research, education, and advocacy.

Not surprisingly, the Academy proposes that most Americans do not meet their recommended total diet approach to healthy eating named Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA). The top finding says 82 percent of Americans don’t want to give up foods they like in order to eat healthier.

In a nutshell, they suggest the foundation to a healthy lifestyle includes physical activity and consuming a diet of nutrient-rich foods and beverages in moderation. The Department of Health and Human Services’ DASH eating plan, the USDA MyPlate Food Guidance System, and the White House-initiated Let’s Move campaign all support this approach.

Nutrition is defined as a supply of materials, i.e., food, required by cells and organisms to stay alive. Nutrition is also a branch of science dealing with the effects of nutrients and diet in humans. Nutrition experts are currently focused on metabolism, and how to prevent or reduce health problems by following a healthy diet.

Some facts about nutrition:

  • Seven major types of nutrients are required by the human body
  • Macronutrients are carbohydrates, fats, protein, water, and fiber needed in large amounts; water and fiber do not provide energy but are essential to life
  • Micronutrients are minerals and vitamins, required in smaller quantities by the human body
  • Vitamins are essential organic compounds that the human body cannot synthesize

Why is National Nutrition Month still so relevant? Healthy eating and active living seem to be easy ideas to understand. Apparently not! Statistics from 2016 show nearly 40 percent, or 93 million Americans, are considered obese. The epidemic is common, serious, and costly.

The Academy shapes the public’s food choices. Its membership includes registered dietician nutritionists (RDNs), dietetic technicians, students, and other credentialed nutrition professionals. These members work in health care systems, home healthcare, foodservice, business, private practice, research, and educational organizations to provide expertise ranging from medical nutrition therapy to wellness and illness prevention initiatives. As a leader in food and nutrition issues, the Academy also provides expert testimony and leadership to the government on legislative, regulatory, and critical food issues.

The role of National Nutrition Month is to get everyone involved in conversations about food choices and nutrition, starting with your own family and friends. Local community cooking events, media discourse, food pantry campaigns, classroom projects, supermarket events, and proclamations promoting diet, exercise, and wellbeing can all contribute to greater awareness.

Choosing nutrient-rich whole food, developing sound eating habits, and engaging in regular physical activity supports a healthy life. Its recommended adults should generate at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week and at least two days of muscle-strengthening exercise.

Eating right to achieve a healthy weight will help reduce the risk of health issues, and promote better overall health for all people regardless of age, gender, or social status.

Let 19 Health Tips for 2019 inspire you to make some small changes this year!

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