Opinions

The Importance of Nutrition and Fitness

Ambar Cox ‘22

SHAPE Contributor

Nutrition and fitness play vital roles in regards to human health. The food that we put into our bodies plays a prominent role in promoting good health because it acts as our personal fuel. The constant amount of energy transformations happening in our cells is dependent on the foods we consume. Nutrients including carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and water are all compounds necessary for survival. Deficiencies in essential nutrients and ignoring fitness habits could lead to costly medications or procedures for preventable diseases, including obesity.

There are numerous amounts of foods for people to choose from, but which ones are ideal for suitable nutrition? Several studies have consistently proven that excess amounts of saturated fats, sugar, and sodium are closely tied to high blood pressure–a major risk factor for heart disease. Healthy fats are unsaturated, scientifically meaning no single hydrogen bonds; these fats are essential for maintaining health. However, saturated fats are filled with multiple hydrogen bonds and many processed foods contain these unhealthy fats. Foods including butter, bacon, cured meats, and cheese tend to raise the amount of cholesterol in the blood, increasing the risk of heart disease. 

Similarly, an overconsumption of artificial sugars can be detrimental to one’s overall health. Sugar is a type of carbohydrate that can be found naturally in fruits and vegetables or artificially in sodas, candy, breakfast cereals, and ice cream. On average, Americans eat about 17 teaspoons of added sugar every day and don’t realize it due to most of this artificial sugar being hidden within processed foods. Likewise, sodium is a highly consumed nutrient due to these “invisible” measurements in easily accessible foods. It is an essential nutrient that plays a role in muscle and nerve function, in addition to chemically balancing bodily fluids. According to the FDA, the human body only requires a small amount of sodium to work properly, but Americans are consuming too much in their diet today. Despite what many may think, most of this overconsumption comes from eating packaged and prepared foods—not from adding salt onto food.

In addition to maintaining a stable nutritional diet for optimal health, physical activity creates benefits including sustaining a healthy body weight, reducing the risk of bone fractures if one has osteoporosis, and reducing the risk of many other illnesses like cancer and heart disease. Physical fitness has various pathways, such as cardio, endurance, and training. The amount of labor put into each exercise determines the amount of new muscle developed at the end of the workout. All ages can and should participate in some form of physical activity every day to prevent excessive weight gain, especially if one’s nutrition is not properly managed. Nutrition and physical fitness go hand in hand, because in order to obtain a sustainable amount of energy for exercise, one must intake the proper amount of nutrients including protein, carbohydrates, fat, and water. Having a diet that is varied and balanced can provide all the proper nutrients and energy the body needs to function at its most optimal ability. 

Finally, it is safe to say that it is easy to recognize how nutrition and fitness play significant roles in the well-being of the human body. Though many different diseases can occur due to a lack of proper diet and exercise, it is noteworthy that these numerous health issues can be solved or prevented simply through properly balanced nutritional and fitness habits.

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