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18: Nutritional Issues
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- Careers in Nutrition
- Both dietitians and nutritionists provide nutrition-related services to people in the private and public sectors. A dietitian is a healthcare professional who has registered credentials and can provide nutritional care in the areas of health and wellness for both individuals and groups. A nutritionist is an unregistered professional who may have the credentials of a dietitian, or may have acquired the knowledge via other avenues.
- Comparing Diets
- A growing understanding of the complexity and potential of the human condition has prompted a new way of thinking about health. Today, we focus on the idea of wellness, which involves a great deal more than just not being sick. Wellness is a state of optimal well-being that enables an individual to maximize their potential. This concept includes a host of dimensions—physical, mental, emotional, social, environmental, and spiritual—which affect one’s quality of life.
- Food Insecurity
- Food insecurity is defined as not having adequate access to food that meets nutritional needs. According to the USDA, about 48.8 million people live in food-insecure households and have reported multiple indications of food access problems. About sixteen million of those have “very low food security,” which means one or more people in the household were hungry at some point over the course of a year due to the inability to afford enough food.
- Nutrition, Health and Disease
- When nutrients and energy are in short supply, cells, tissues, organs, and organ systems do not function properly. Unbalanced diets can cause diseases and, conversely, certain illnesses and diseases can cause an inadequate intake and absorption of nutrients, simulating the health consequences of an unbalanced diet. Overeating high-fat foods and nutrient-poor foods can lead to obesity and exacerbate the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
- Prelude to Nutritional Issues
- Good nutrition equates to receiving enough (but not too much) of the macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and water) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) so that the body can stay healthy, grow properly, and work effectively. The phrase “you are what you eat” means that your body will respond to the food it receives, either good or bad. Processed, sugary, high-fat, and excessively salted foods leave the body unable to perform effectively.
- Threats to Health
- Chronic diseases are ongoing, life-threatening, and life-altering health challenges. They are the leading cause of death worldwide. Chronic conditions are increasing in frequency. They cause significant physical and emotional suffering and are an impediment to economic growth and vitality. It is important, now more than ever, to understand the different risk factors for chronic disease and to learn how to prevent their development.
- Undernutrition, Overnutrition, and Malnutrition
- Malnutrition refers to one not receiving proper nutrition and does not distinguish between the consequences of too many nutrients or the lack of nutrients, both of which impair overall health. Undernutrition is characterized by a lack of nutrients and insufficient energy supply, whereas overnutrition is characterized by excessive nutrient and energy intake. Overnutrition can result in obesity, a growing global health threat. Obesity is a disorder that leads to an overaccumulation of fat tissue.