NUTRITION AND HEALTH


Nutrition is an input to and foundation for health and development. Interaction of infection and malnutrition is well-documented. Better nutrition means stronger immune systems, less illness and better health. Healthy children learn better. Healthy people are stronger, are more productive and more able to create opportunities to gradually break the cycles of both poverty and hunger in a sustainable way. Better nutrition is a prime entry point to ending poverty and a milestone to achieving better quality of life.

Freedom from hunger and malnutrition is a basic human right and their alleviation is a fundamental prerequisite for human and national development.

WHO has traditionally focused on the vast magnitude of the many forms of nutritional deficiency, along with their associated mortality and morbidity in infants, young children and mothers. However, the world is also seeing a dramatic increase in other forms of malnutrition characterized by obesity and the long-term implications of unbalanced dietary and lifestyle practices that result in chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes.

All forms of malnutrition's broad spectrum are associated with significant morbidity, mortality, and economic costs, particularly in countries where both under- and over nutrition co-exist as is the case in developing countries undergoing rapid transition in nutrition and life-style.



Good nutrition can help prevent disease and promote health. There are six categories of nutrients that the body needs to acquire from food: protein, carbohydrates, fat, fibers, vitamins and minerals, and water.


Protein supplies amino acids to build and maintain healthy body tissue. There are 20 amino acids considered essential because the body must have all of them in the right amounts to function properly. Twelve of these are manufactured in the body but the other eight amino acids must be provided by the diet. Foods from animal sources such as milk or eggs often contain all these essential amino acids while a variety of plant products must be taken together to provide all these necessary protein components.


Fat supplies energy and transports nutrients. There are two families of fatty acids considered essential for the body: the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Essential fatty acids are required by the body to function normally. They can be obtained from canola oil, flaxseed oil, cold-water fish, or fish oil, all of which contain omega-3 fatty acids, and primrose or black currant seed oil, which contains omega-6 fatty acids. The American diet often contains an excess of omega-6 fatty acids and insufficient amounts of omega-3 fats. Increased consumption of omega-3 oils is recommended to help reduce risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancer and alleviate symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, premenstrual syndrome, dermatitis, and inflammatory bowel disease.


Carbohydrates are the body's main source of energy and should be the major part of total daily intake. There are two types of carbohydrates: simple carbohydrates (such as sugar or honey) or complex carbohydrates (such as grains, beans, peas, or potatoes). Complex carbohydrates are preferred because these foods are more nutritious yet have fewer calories per gram compared to fat and cause fewer problems with overeating than fat or sugar. Complex carbohydrates also are preferred over simple carbohydrates by diabetics because they allow better blood glucose control.


Fiber is the material that gives plants texture and support. Although it is primarily made up of carbohydrates, it does not have a lot of calories and is usually not broken down by the body for energy. Dietary fiber is found in plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and whole grains.
There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Insoluble fiber, as the name implies, does not dissolve in water because it contains high amount of cellulose. Insoluble fiber can be found in the bran of grains, the pulp of fruit and the skin of vegetables. Soluble fiber is the type of fiber that dissolves in water. It can be found in a variety of fruits and vegetables such as apples, oatmeal and oat bran, rye flour, and dried beans.
Although they share some common characteristics such as being partially digested in the stomach and intestines and have few calories, each type of fiber has its own specific health benefits. Insoluble fiber speeds up the transit of foods through the digestive system and adds bulk to the stools, therefore, it is the type of fiber that helps treat constipation or diarrhea and prevents colon cancer. On the other hand, only soluble fiber can lower blood cholesterol levels. This type of fiber works by attaching itself to the cholesterol so that it can be eliminated from the body. This prevents cholesterol from recirculating and being reabsorbed into the bloodstream. In 2003, the World Health Organization released a new report specifically outlining the link of a healthy diet rich in high-fiber plant foods to preventing cancer.

Vitamins and minerals

Vitamins are organic substances present in food and required by the body in a small amount for regulation of metabolism and maintenance of normal growth and functioning. The most commonly known vitamins are A, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folic acid), B12 (cobalamin), C (ascorbic acid), D, E, and K. The B and C vitamins are watersoluble, excess amounts of which are excreted in the urine. The A, D, E, and K vitamins are fat-soluble and will be stored in the body fat.
Minerals are vital to our existence because they are the building blocks that make up muscles, tissues, and bones. They also are important components of many life-supporting systems, such as hormones, oxygen transport, and enzyme systems.
There are two kinds of minerals: the major (or macro) minerals and the trace minerals. Major minerals are the minerals that the body needs in large amounts. The following minerals are classified as major: calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, sulfur, and chloride. They are needed to build muscles, blood, nerve cells, teeth, and bones. They also are essential electrolytes that the body requires to regulate blood volume and acid-base balance.
Unlike the major minerals, trace minerals are needed only in tiny amounts. Even though they can be found in the body in exceedingly small amounts, they are also very important to the human body. These minerals participate in most chemical reactions in the body. They also are needed to manufacture important hormones. The following are classified as trace minerals: iron, zinc, iodine, copper, manganese, fluoride, chromium, selenium, molybdenum, and boron.
Many vitamins (such as vitamins A, C, and E) and minerals (such as zinc, copper, selenium, or manganese) act as antioxidants. They protect the body against the damaging effects of free radicals. They scavenge or mop up these highly reactive radicals and change them into inactive, less harmful compounds. In so doing, these essential nutrients help prevent cancer and many other degenerative diseases, such as premature aging, heart disease, autoimmune diseases, arthritis, cataracts, Alzheimer's disease, and diabetes mellitus.


Water helps to regulate body temperature, transports nutrients to cells, and rids the body of waste materials.

Nutritional Therapy

Unlike plants, human beings cannot manufacture most of the nutrients that they need to function. They must eat plants and/or other animals. Although nutritional therapy came to the forefront of the public's awareness in the late twentieth century, the notion that food affects health is not new. John Harvey Kellogg was an early health-food pioneer and an advocate of a high-fiber diet. An avowed vegetarian, he believed that meat products were particularly detrimental to the colon. In the 1870s, Kellogg founded the Battle Creek Sanitarium, where he developed a diet based on nut and vegetable products.
Good nutrition helps individuals achieve general health and well-being. In addition, dietary modifications might be prescribed for a variety of complaints including allergies, anemia, arthritis, colds, depressions, fatigue, gastrointestinal disorders, high or low blood pressure, insomnia, headaches, obesity, pregnancy, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), respiratory conditions, and stress.
Nutritional therapy may also be involved as a complement to the allopathic treatments of cancer, diabetes, and Parkinson's disease. Other specific dietary measures include the elimination of food additives for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), gluten-free diets for schizophrenia, and dairy-free for chronic respiratory diseases.
A high-fiber diet helps prevent or treat the following health conditions:
  • High cholesterol levels. Fiber effectively lowers blood cholesterol levels. It appears that soluble fiber binds to cholesterol and moves it down the digestive tract so that it can be excreted from the body. This prevents the cholesterol from being reabsorbed into the bloodstream.
  • Constipation. A high-fiber diet is the preferred non drug treatment for constipation. Fiber in the diet adds more bulk to the stools, making them softer and shortening the time foods stay in the digestive tract.
  • Hemorrhoids. Fiber in the diet adds more bulk and softens the stool, thus, reducing painful hemorrhoidal symptoms.
  • Diabetes. Soluble fiber in the diet slows down the rise of blood sugar levels following a meal and helps control diabetes.
  • Obesity. Dietary fiber makes a person feel full faster.
  • Cancer. Insoluble fiber in the diet speeds up the movement of the stools through the gastrointestinal tract. The faster food travels through the digestive tract, the less time there is for potential cancer-causing substances to work. Therefore, diets high in insoluble fiber help prevent the accumulation of toxic substances that cause cancer of the colon. Because fiber reduces fat absorption in the digestive tract, it also may prevent breast cancer.
A diet low in fat also promotes good health and prevents many diseases. Low-fat diets can help treat or control the following conditions:
  • Obesity. High fat consumption often leads to excess caloric and fat intake, which increases body fat.
  • Coronary artery disease. High consumption of saturated fats is associated with coronary artery disease.
  • Diabetes. People who are overweight tend to develop or worsen existing diabetic conditions due to decreased insulin sensitivity.
  • Breast cancer. A high dietary consumption of fat is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.

The four basic food groups
  • dairy products (such as milk and cheese)
  • meat and eggs (such as fish, poultry, pork, beef, and eggs)
  • grains (such as bread cereals, rice, and pasta)
  • fruits and vegetables
For adults consumption of meat, eggs, and dairy products should not exceed 20% of total daily caloric intake. The rest (80%) should be devoted to vegetables, fruits, and grains. For children age two or older, 55% of their caloric intake should be in the form of carbohydrates, 30% from fat, and 15% from proteins. In addition, saturated fat intake should not exceed 10% of total caloric intake. This low-fat, high-fiber diet is believed to promote health and help prevent many diseases, including heart disease, obesity, and cancer.
Allergenic and highly processed foods should be avoided. Highly processed foods do not contain significant amounts of essential trace minerals. Furthermore, they contain lots of fat and sugar as well as preservatives, artificial sweeteners and other additives. High consumption of these foods causes build up of unwanted chemicals in the body and should be avoided. Food allergies causes a variety of symptoms including food cravings, weight gain, bloating, and water retention. They also may worsen chronic inflammatory conditions such as arthritis.

An enormous body of research exists in the field of nutrition. Mainstream Western medical practitioners point to studies that show that a balanced diet, based on the USDA Food Guide Pyramid, provides all of the necessary nutrients.
In 2004, the USDA was working on a revision of the Food Guide Pyramid to reflect changes in American lifestyle habits. The new eating guide was due for release in January 2005. The World Health Organization (WHO) also was weighing in on the obesity and nutrition issue, even struggling with objections from member nations that supply goods such as sugar, to endorse a global strategy in spring 2004 on diet, physical activity and health.
The Food Guide Pyramid recommends the following daily servings in six categories:
  • grains: six or more servings
  • vegetables: five servings
  • fruits: two to four servings
  • meat: two to three servings
  • dairy: two to three servings
  • fats and oils: use sparingly


Individuals should not change their diets without the advice of nutritional experts or health care professionals. Certain individuals, especially children, pregnant and lactating women, and chronically ill patients, only should change their diets under professional supervision.

It is best to obtain vitamins and minerals through food sources. Excessive intake of vitamins and mineral supplements can cause serious health problems. Likewise, eating too much of one type of food, as can happen with fad diets, can be harmful. The key to nutrition is moderation. If a person feels they are short on iron, for example, he or she should not go too far to the extreme in getting more iron through diet and supplements. A 2003 report said that too much stored iron in the body has possibly been linked with heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
The following is a list of possible side effects resulting from excessive doses of vitamins and minerals:
  • vitamin A: birth defects, irreversible bone and liver damage
  • vitamin B1: deficiencies in B2 and B6
  • vitamin B6: damage to the nervous system
  • vitamin C: affects the absorption of copper; diarrhea
  • vitamin D: hypercalcemia (abnormally high concentration of calcium in the blood)
  • phosphorus: affects the absorption of calcium
  • zinc: affects absorption of copper and iron; suppresses the immune system

Research and general acceptance

Due to a large volume of scientific evidence demonstrating the benefits of the low-fat, high-fiber diet in disease prevention and treatment, these recommendations have been accepted and advocated by both complementary and allopathic practitioners.
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Essential amino acids necessary for human children but not adults:

Fatty acids

Dietary minerals

Elements with speculated role in human health

Many elements have been implicated at various times to have a role in human health. For none of these elements, however, has a specific protein, complex or dietary reference intake been established:


Orthomolecular nutrition (ON)


is a term which, when we first hear it, sounds cultish like gangsta rap or media elite. Like most unfamiliar expressions though, we get comfortable with it after we have heard it frequently and know what it’s all about. Our purpose in this short monograph is to tell you what orthomolecular nutrition is, how it evolved, how it relates to traditional medicine and how it is becoming a very popular and effective adjunct to traditional practices.

Orthomolecular is a synthetic term made up of ortho, which is Greek for "correct" or "right" and molecule which is the simplest structure that displays the characteristics of a compound. So it literally means the "right molecule". Linus Pauling coined the term in 1968 to help him express his belief that disease could be eradicated by giving the body the "right molecules" of nutrients through good nutrition.

Basically, a doctor of nutrition (the polite name for orthomolecular nutritionist) believes that individuals and infirmities are unique. Each of us eats distinctly different foods grown in varying soils yielding differing nutrients. Each of us has a unique body shape which we exercise differently in varying work and play environments. And each of us has different physical and emotional stresses. So, while everyone has the same list of required natural substances such as vitamins, minerals, trace elements, amino acids, enzymes and hormones, the healthy amounts are determined by lifestyle and environment. It is the relative amount of "right molecules" that is important to each of us as individuals. When they get out of balance, disease results.

Turning this around, disease results from excesses and deficiencies of the natural substances our bodies need so that they can grow and replace tissue. Treatment of disease by doctors of nutrition, then, is aimed squarely at bringing these natural substances into balance.

This differs from traditional medicine which assumes one disease (the presenting illness) originating from a single cause and solved by one (or few) treatments. Where a doctor of nutrition tries to bring many nutritional factors into balance, traditional health care practitioners often treat with toxic drugs. Introducing these alien chemicals into our bodies can alleviate symptoms but has two drawbacks: drugs often erase valuable clues as to what the real problem is and they create dependence.

Despite these fundamental differences, orthomolecular and traditional medicine are not in opposition to one another. They can be practiced simultaneously. Traditional primary health care practitioners are beginning to embrace orthomolecular nutrition as an enhancement to their practices. There are at least three forces at work promoting this phenomenon.

First, there is a surging demand by health care consumers for alternative health solutions. One need only look at the dramatic increase in spending in this area for proof. Second, the number of primary care physicians is growing faster than the populace. Coupled with the push for managed care this is forcing traditional health care practitioners to work harder to distinguish themselves. They are responding to this challenge by doing a better job of marketing their practices. One means of "product differentiation" is to offer conjunctive nutrition programs as an alternative to traditional diagnosis and treatment. Third, alternative health solutions are becoming increasingly eligible for medical reimbursement by insurance companies.

Doctors of nutrition believe that by concentrating and balancing the "right molecules" in the body they can achieve optimal health. Traditional medicine also has optimal health as its goal. This goal compatibility will foster conjunctive nutritional programs between orthomolecular nutritionists and traditional medical practitioners.



"I'm dying of thirst!"

Well, you just might. It sounds so simple. H20. Two parts hydrogen, one part oxygen. But this substance better known as water, is the most essential element, next to air, to our survival. Water truly is everywhere, still most take it for granted.

Water makes up more than two thirds of the weight of the human body, and without it, we would die in a few days. The human brain is made up of 95% water, blood is 82% and lungs 90%. A mere 2% drop in our body's water supply can trigger signs of dehydration: fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic math, and difficulty focusing on smaller print, such as a computer screen. (Are you having trouble reading this? Drink up!) Mild dehydration is also one of the most common causes of daytime fatigue. An estimated seventy-five percent of Americans have mild, chronic dehydration. Pretty scary statistic for a developed country where water is readily available through the tap or bottle.

Water is important to the mechanics of the human body. The body cannot work without it, just as a car cannot run without gas and oil. In fact, all the cell and organ functions made up in our entire anatomy and physiology depend on water for their functioning.

  • Water serves as a lubricant
  • Water forms the base for saliva
  • Water forms the fluids that surround the joints.
  • Water regulates the body temperature, as the cooling and heating is distributed through perspiration.
  • Water helps to alleviate constipation by moving food through the intestinal tract and thereby eliminating waste- the best detox agent.
  • Regulates metabolism

In addition to the daily maintenance of our bodies, water also plays a key role in the prevention of disease. Drinking eight glasses of water daily can decrease the risk of colon cancer by 45%, bladder cancer by 50% and it can potentially even reduce the risk of breast cancer. And those are just a few examples! As you follow other links on our website, you can read more in depth about how water can aid in the prevention and cure of many types of diseases, ailments and disorders that affect the many systems of our bodies.

Since water is such an important component to our physiology, it would make sense that the quality of the water should be just as important as the quantity. Drinking water should always be clean and free of contaminants to ensure proper health and wellness.




We've all heard that drinking water will help keep us healthy. But how much is really enough?

The experts have always said, on average, that eight eight-ounce glasses per day will suffice. However, that might not be enough. While eight is great, amounts really need to be tailored to meet the needs of every individual. Most adults will lose between two to three quarts of water per day by way of normal body functions, but athletes and those who live in work in warmer environments tend to lose more. For those people, drinking more water will make up for the bigger loss of water they had through perspiration, as well as in the regulation of body temperature.

Our bodies are made up of 55-70% water, but it does not replenish itself, so drinking water helps maintain that healthy balance. But even still, many will walk around dehydrated, most of the time unknowingly. That is because thirst is a poor indicator of dehydration. By the time someone gets thirsty, it is too late! Or, if one is thirsty, they may go for a beverage that does not actually replenish the body. A cold soda may feel nice going down, but beverages with caffeine are not meant to hydrate. Water is the best remedy for dehydration. If mild dehydration sets in, it can decrease one's energy level and mental functioning and increase stress on the body. Severe dehydration can have far more damaging effects.

There are three important rules when it comes to drinking water:

  1. Drink twice as much as it takes to quench your thirst.
  2. Drink frequently throughout the day to prevent dehydration.
  3. Drink at least eight glasses daily, or one cup for every 20 pounds of body weight. For example, a 150-pound person who does not exercise or work in hot climates needs 7.5 cups.

While some fruit juices and green tea may account for some fluid intake, you can count out beverages such as coffee or alcohol. They have a mild diuretic effect, which promotes urination and therefore water loss, which ultimately defeats the purpose.


A trick to ensure people are drinking their daily allowance is to fill a pitcher or jug with the allotment of water and keep it on your desk at work, or handy at home. The goal is then clearly marked. As you drink down the water, you know that you are on the right path to drinking enough water.

And finally, those frequent bathroom trips are not a bad thing. The best indicator that one is drinking enough water is when urine comes out pale yellow to clear. A dark yellow color, however, is a sign your body is dehydrated and is concentrating the urine in an effort to conserve water.

When it comes to your health, the quality of your drinking water is just as important as the quantity.

According to recent news and reports, most tap and well water in the U.S. are not safe for drinking due to heavy industrial and environmental pollution. Toxic bacteria, chemicals and heavy metals routinely penetrate and pollute our natural water sources making people sick while exposing them to long term health consequences such as liver damage, cancer and other serious conditions. We have reached the point where all sources of our drinking water, including municipal water systems, wells, lakes, rivers, and even glaciers, contain some level of contamination. Even some brands of bottled water have been found to contain high levels of contaminants in addition to plastics chemical leaching from the bottle.






Are you one of those people who always have a can of soda at your desk? You may want to think about taking a trip to the water cooler instead. Not only can soda pack on the pounds, it can also deteriorate the body as well.

The sugar in soda, usually containing 9 teaspoons, can over time cause you to pack on the pounds. Also, did you know that that much sugar can compromise the immune system for up to 12 hours? Drinking diet cola? Have you heard about that artificial sweeteners are linked to brain tumors? Caffeine is another major issue for not just soda drinkers, but coffee and energy drink buffs as well. Caffeine consumption can cause dehydration and when not consumed, terrible headaches, shakes and irritability. While a morning boost may not have serious long-term effects, constant consumption will indeed take a toll on the body.

The biggest, most important reason to steer clear of the fizzy beverage is mineral depletion. The long term the effects of colas are devastating to the body. Acidity, sugars, and artificial flavors and sweeteners can actually shorten your life. There is enough acid in a can of soda to kill, that is, if our body did not contain mechanisms to neutralize it. But, that means our bodies' precious minerals, such as calcium, are being used for this instead of what they are intended for! Did you know that it takes 32 glasses of water to neutralize the acid from one 12 oz. cola or soda? Wow!

Sports drinks are arguably said to be a good choice by athletes needing to replenish minerals. However, people should caution themselves to not drink them recreationally. Many times parents will let children drink them because of the "cool" flavors. One Baylor University study of sports drinks said there was one case of irregular heartbeat was reported in a football player who consumed too much potassium per day by drinking too much of a sports drink. Sports drinks also contain sodium, as well as a significant concentration of carbohydrates and calories. If people are drinking sports drinks, not because they are working out and losing minerals through sweat, than they are not very good for you!

Other drinks that cannot be replaced by water are coffee and tea. Much has been said about coffee drinks as a source of fat and empty calories. Many of these coffee specialty drinks have become more like desserts and should be treated as such, not drank on a regular basis. Coffee may be a great way to wake up in the morning, but after 8 hours of sleep, bodies need to be hydrated again, not dehydrated, as coffee will do. Need to wake up? Replenish your body with water and do some stretches or go for a walk or run to get the blood pumping.

Reading about the harmful effects of these drinks should shed some light on the benefits of our great natural resource: water!



In similar articles on our site, it was stated that the average person needs about 8 glasses of water per day. But that is just an average. Some people need more, and some people need less. However, there area also times when the body temporarily needs more water.

There are also certain times when people may need more water than usual, whether it is a health condition, or an environmental concern. Under these circumstances, more water should be drank:

When on a high protein diet

Did you know that uric acid in meat could cause gout? That said, people on a high protein diet require more water than a regular eater, as the water will flush out things like uric acid, caused by the extra protein. Another risk of high protein diets that can be combated with water is that, if you're not eating carbohydrates, your body breaks down fat cells and then produces a buildup of toxic chemical compounds, called ketones in your blood. When there are too many ketones in your blood, your body eliminates them in your urine. Eliminate too many ketones, and you also eliminate too much water. Without replacing it, you can suffer severe dehydration and the risk of abnormal heart rhythms

When on a high fiber diet

Constipation can be an uncomfortable side effect of high fiber intake. That is because fiber, although good for your health, can absorb fluid from your intestines. Drinking fluids help prevent constipation in those who are eating high fiber.

Having an illness that causes vomiting or diarrhea

Vomiting and diarrhea are signs of dehydration. Drinking more water will keep the body hydrated during this illness, and also prevent that vomiting and diarrhea that goes along with it. It is suggested that someone with these symptoms, most likely from the flu or another virus, to drink 2-3 quarts of water per day.

Are being more physically active

The more active someone is, the more they will perspire. When you exercise, your body builds up heat, and sweat brings your body temperature back to normal. As sweat evaporates from your skin, your body cools. But, through the cooling process, can lose four cups of water every hour during exercise. As a result, more water is lost. Drinking more fluids will combat that water loss by replenishing the body. Whether this activity is during a workout or during work, keep drinking.

Are exposed to warm or hot conditions

As people are exposed to warmer conditions, their body temperatures will rise as a reaction to cool the body, resulting in more perspiration. This can happen whether they are being active or not. Without proper fluid intake, this change in climate could leave people having the uncomfortable effects of dehydration. That is not something someone on a vacation wants to experience! Carry around a water bottle while in warmer conditions. Also, warmer conditions could be in a workplace. If that is the case, always make sure that you are paying a visit to the water cooler, or have a water bottle at your workstation.