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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: How certain foods can affect your body

Medically Approved by Dr. Edward Salko

Table of Contents

Food and health are inseparable thoughts. As a matter of fact, food is tied up with our survival and longevity in countless ways.

Our dietary choices affect our metabolic processes and heavily influence the general functions of our body systems. It even impacts our risks of acquiring or developing certain diseases.

With this concept, eating healthy has long been an obvious choice and necessity if you wanted to keep a fit and robust body. Good nutrition is a requisite valuable down to the cellular needs of the different organs. The real question is what constitutes a healthy diet?

While we encounter generic information on foods that are beneficial to us if we consider the individualistic requirements and risks of people evident in the fact that genetic makeup has a tight link to how we respond to a specific food.

To simplify it, there is a big chance that a particular set of food can drive good health to Adam and have a contrasting effect on Ben. Adam may enjoy better digestion with the suggested generic healthy diet while Ben experiences digestive distress with the same plate of foods.

A clear answer to this obvious loophole is a personalized diet that caters to the needs of a person’s body while stirring clear food choices that can do more damage than benefits.

Taking into consideration how our body reacts to a specific list of food, personalized balanced and healthy diets can lead to advantageous effects such as:

– Weight loss

– Better digestion

– Better memory and mental capacity

– Strong bones and teeth

– Good mood and improved psychological functions,

– Reduction of risks to chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disorders

A Checklist of Good and Healthy Food

The Department of Nutrition from Harvard University formulated the Healthy Eating Pyramid to guide American consumers on the type of food they should secure in their grocery list and pantry this includes fruits, vegetables, specific kinds of meat, and more.  

It comes along with the Healthy Eating Plate where a specific amount of serving is indicated to achieve a balanced diet.

In matters of a personalized diet, there is no need to eliminate macronutrients that are absolutely essential to the body. A healthy alternative source is always a clear solution. Look for food with the same amount of nutrients but is not detrimental to your health.

In this endeavor, it is imperative to learn about what nutrients the body demands. The following are the macronutrients important to a healthy and well-functioning body.

1. Protein

Proteins perform multiple functions in the body ranging from speeding up chemical reactions, transportation, and storage of essential molecules to the production of antibodies and repair of body tissues.

You can acquire an ample amount of proteins from beans, corn, fish, poultry, legumes, oats, broccoli, cauliflower, different kinds of meat, almonds, milk, asparagus, soy products, nuts, and more.

2. Carbohydrates

More often than not, we associate carbohydrates with energy. While it is true that they are fundamental requirements for metabolic respiration that allows the production of energy for the cells to perform all the required work, carbohydrates also are also responsible for storage, and production of other macromolecules.

Dietary carbohydrates are classified into sugars, starches, and fiber. Good sources of carbohydrates include minimally processed fruits, vegetables, whole grain, legumes, etc.

3.  Fats

Fats have had a bad reputation being associated with cholesterols that influence medical conditions such as hypertension and heart disease. However, it is important to stress out that there are good and bad cholesterols.

Nevertheless, dietary fats are essential in protecting the organs, producing hormones, and energy conversion. Healthful fats can be categorized into two: monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. 

Monounsaturated fats are found in avocados, olives, and nuts. Polyunsaturated fats are present in fatty fish, soy, tofu, and sesame seeds.

4.  Vitamins and Minerals

Different minerals have a wide array of roles in the body. They are essential in the production of hormones, healing and tissue repair, strengthen the immune system, promote regular growth and development of the bones and tissues, etc.

Vitamins and minerals are found in myriad classes of food such as milk, eggs, fruits, vegetables, seafood, nuts, potatoes, cereals, poultry, fish, whole grains, oatmeal, peas, lentils, and many more.

5.  Water

Approximately 60% of the human body is made of water. Vital organs rely on water to function properly. It plays a significant role in regulating the body temperature, transport nutrients, and oxygen in the cell, and in keeping the structure of many tissues.

The volume of water to be consumed may vary from one person to the other. But in case you have a hard time regulating your water intake, you can take comfort in the fact that foods contain water as well as compensating for those non-drinking periods. 

Foods such as cucumber, tomatoes, apples, spinach, oranges, and broccoli are made up of at least 80% water.

Unhealthy Food is nothing but trouble

Foods are considered as unhealthy when they have excess sugar, salt, oil as well as artificial and chemical ingredients. They are colloquially known as junk food. 

Processed food also poses a threat to public health as they have a diminishing amount of nutrients but with empty calories.

In a study conducted by Global Burden of Disease from 1990 to 2017 involving 195 countries, it was shown that there are about 11 million deaths caused by poor diets that mostly constitute high levels of processed meat, sugary products, and trans fats. It has also been noted that the said diets have low amounts of fruits and vegetables.

Here are some of the diseases associated with an unhealthy diet and poor nutrition.

1. Obesity

2. Hypertension

3. Heart disease

4. Stroke

5. Some forms of cancer

6. Type 2 Diabetes

7. Depression

8. Osteoporosis

9. Rickets

10. Kwashiorkor

11. Respiratory problems

12. Digestive issues

13. Dental problems

These diseases can escalate into chronic and/or fatal conditions if not diagnosed and treated immediately. A common inclusion in the treatment process is a healthy shift in eating habits. Unhealthy foods are either reduced or completely eliminated.

The thing about junk foods, however, is that most of them come as comfort foods. They are deliciously evil, but nonetheless, they are delicious most of the time. 

Hence, it is a common occurrence that people get a sense of addition towards them to the point that they lose control of the frequency or the amount of consumption.

The following are some of the unhealthiest foods easily available in the market.

1. Deep-fried foods

2. Sugary cereal

3. Bacon and sausages

4. Fast food

5. Processed products

6. Sodas

7. Pizza

8. Fruit juices

9. Cakes and pastries

10. Potato chips and fries  

11. Energy drinks

12. Fettuccine alfredo

13. Cup noodles

A diet that mostly constitutes of this junk food can be very detrimental to the body. However, on specific occasions, we can still enjoy guilt-free consumption of these comfort foods in strict moderation provided that the risks for diseases related therein are very low.  

Food allergies and food intolerance can get ugly

In the spirit of moderation, there are certain foods that simply do not qualify to be included in a personalized meal plan regardless if you take them in small quantities. This is true to many people suffering from food allergies or food intolerance.

There are certain conditions and symptoms that are often mistaken as indicators of acquired or developed diseases yet they simply are immunological reactions to a specific food.

Food allergies are different from food intolerance. With food allergies, the immune system detects the food as a foreign object that could potentially harm the different organs. Thereby, it produces immune mild to life-threatening responses in the body.

Food intolerance, on the other hand, is often less serious. It could have the following symptoms.

– Abdominal pain

– Bloating

– Headaches

– Digestive distress

– Fatigue

Food intolerance can be diagnosed with Food Sensitivity Tests. There are more and or less a hundred kinds of food that people can get sensitive to.  

In food allergy, the experience is quite different. A specific food or substance that triggers an allergy in a person is called an allergen.

Symptoms of food allergies may vary from person to person. But the majority of those who have common food allergies often experience the following:

– Swelling of the lips, tongue, throat, and other body parts

– Wheezing

– Breathing problems

– Itching in the mouth

– Nausea and vomiting

– Hives and itchiness

– Diarrhea and digestive distress

Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening allergic reaction characterized by tightening of the airways, itchy rash, and swollen throat. It can occur in a matter of minutes and can last at an average of 20 minutes following exposure to the allergen.

The condition is worsened when a person foes through anaphylactic shock where the blood pressure is decreases accompanied by a rapid pulse rate, and loss of consciousness.

Food allergies typically begin from childhood but adults can develop them over time.  Susceptibility to food allergies is predisposed by genetic history and environmental factors.

According to the Food Allergy Research and Education approximately 32 million people in the US have food allergies.

Here are 8 common food allergens among Americans.

1. Milk

2. Peanuts

3. Wheat

4. Gluten

5. Shellfish

6. Eggs

7. Tree nuts

8. Soy

Food allergy is a condition that should not be taken lightly as it can be fatal without proper diagnosis and regulation. Food substitution can be explored in order to remove the particular food from your diet without sacrificing the needed nutrients.

The Bottom Line

Dietary restrictions are essential to maintain good health especially as cases of diseases associated with eating habits increase annually. Our food choices speak volumes of our risks to certain types of disorders.

While eating healthy is an obvious choice to reduce these risks, it is important to understand how our body reacts to certain foods that are generally perceived as healthy. In the same way, eating frequency and food sizes should be considered.

If you observe symptoms of food intolerance/sensitivity or allergies, do not hesitate to consult your doctor and take the necessary test for screening and diagnosis. 

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