Diet and Nutrition



Health is much more than the absence of disease. It is a positive quality, emphasizing physical, social, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual well being. Optimum nutrition, providing all nutrients in both kind and amount, is the cornerstone of good health and the cutting edge of prevention. The foods we eat, and the nutrients they should provide, are the most important continuing environmental factors influencing our growth, development, functional abilities, and health. Nutritional knowledge, with education of both the general public, and particularly health professionals is critical if we are to succeed in significantly reducing the excessive premature morbidity and mortality from our leading killer diseases - heart disease, cancer, and stroke. How we structure our lifestyles, with proper nutrition, health habit discipline, and exercise programming, will have a great influence on personal health, and will help reduce our current catastrophic medical care expenditures.

The understanding of the role of nutrition in health maintenance and disease prevention has advanced rapidly in the past decade. The relationship between nutritional deficiencies and chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer, especially breast and prostate cancer, have come under close scrutiny. With increased emphasis on disease prevention and health maintenance, in 1989 the federal government issued the recommended dietary allowances for nutritional supplements1. In 1989, the National Academy of Sciences made the following recommendations.

  • Reduce total fat intake to 30% or less of kcalories. Reduce saturated fat intake to less than 10% of kcalories, and the intake of cholesterol to less than 300 mg daily.
  • Increase intake of starches and other complex carbohydrates.
  • Maintain protein intake at moderate levels.
  • Balance food intake and physical activity to maintain appropriate body weight.
  • For those who drink alcoholic beverages, limit consumption to the equivalent of less than 1 oz of pure alcohol in a single day. Pregnant women should avoid alcoholic beverages.
  • Limit total daily intake of salt (sodium chloride) to 6 g or less.
  • Maintain adequate calcium intake.
  • Avoid taking dietary supplements in excess of the RDA in any single day.
  • Maintain an optimal intake of fluoride, particularly during the years of primary and secondary tooth formation and growth

More simply, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Human Services made the following recommendations.

  • Eat a variety of foods.
  • Maintain desirable body weight.
  • Choose a diet low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol.
  • Choose a diet with plenty of vegetables, fruit, and grain products.
  • Use sugars in moderation.
  • Use salt and sodium in moderation.
  • If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation


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