Understanding how nutrition affects your health

Understanding how nutrition affects your health

Table of Contents

Healthy eating has a direct and indirect effect on your health. Understanding the effects of poor nutrition or how good nutrition affects your health will improve your well-being.

Understanding how nutrition affects your health

Nutrition affects our health in many ways. A well-balanced diet can help protect us against chronic disease, maintain a healthy weight, and promote overall health. Nutrition directly affects heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. Some significant risk factors for these diseases are being overweight or obese.

At least 2.8 million people die annually from being overweight or obese, according to the World Health Organization. Obesity is abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a health risk. Overweight and obesity are defined by a body mass index (BMI), which is calculated from an individual’s weight and height. Obese individuals have a BMI greater than 30 kg/m2, while overweight individuals have a BMI greater than 25 kg/m2 but less than 30 kg/m2.

How nutrition affects health

Nutrition is the science of food and its relationship to health. The word nutrition comes from a Latin word meaning “nourishment.” Nutrition includes the study of the following:

  • Micronutrients (vitamins and minerals): Are needed for normal body function.
  • Dietary fiber: Provides bulk to food, so it can be digested more easily.
  • Fats: Different types of fat in our diet have different effects on our bodies.
  • Glycaemic index (GI): this measures how quickly carbohydrates are broken down into sugar in your bloodstream.

The Effects of Poor Nutrition

Poor nutrition, or malnutrition, is a condition that occurs when our bodies don’t get the nutrients they need. When we eat a balanced diet, our bodies use those nutrients to maintain health and function. When we don’t get enough of certain nutrients in our diets, this can cause problems with growth and development, immunity, metabolism, and other bodily functions.

The effects of poor nutrition are often seen as medical conditions. Common medical problems that may be caused by poor nutrition include:

Malnutrition affects people of all ages but is more common in children because their growing bodies require more nutrients than adults.


Anemia is a condition in which there aren't enough healthy red blood cells circulating throughout the body

Anemia is a condition in which there aren’t enough healthy red blood cells circulating throughout the body. Red blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to all body parts where it’s needed to keep organs functioning properly. Without healthy red blood cells, organs can’t get enough oxygen, which can cause them to fail or stop working altogether.

Protein-energy malnutrition: Protein-energy malnutrition occurs when someone doesn’t consume enough protein or energy (calories) in their daily diet. Protein helps build strong muscles and tissues, while energy keeps organs functioning properly. Protein-energy malnutrition often causes weight loss because people don’t have enough energy to

Low energy levels

Not having enough nutritious food in your diet might leave you feeling fatigued.

Not having enough nutritious food in your diet might leave you feeling fatigued.

Poor growth and development. If a child is not getting the right amount of essential vitamins and minerals, she might not grow or develop as she should.

Reduced immune function. A poor diet can result in a weakened immune system, which increases your risk for illness.

Increased risk for chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

Good Nutrition Has Health Benefits

Good nutrition is essential to staying healthy and maintaining a healthy weight. It is also a way to protect yourself from diseases, including some types of cancer. A balanced diet can help you meet your daily nutrient needs and reduce your risk for chronic disease.

 A balanced, nutritious diet lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, hypertension, and other chronic conditions. Eating enough calories to supply, but not exceed, the body’s needs helps maintain a healthy…

from New Dimensions in Women’s Health
by Linda Lewis Alexander, Judith H. LaRosa, et. al.
Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2020 

New Dimensions in Women’s Health

New Dimensions in Women's Health

Sub Title

  • Written for health education, nursing, and women’s studies programs
  • It provides readers with the critical information needed to optimize their well-being, avoid illness and injury, and support their overall health
  • Provides in-depth coverage of important aspects of women’s health and examines the contributing epidemiological, historical, psychosocial, cultural, ethical, legal, political, and economic influences.

The health benefits of good nutrition include:

Weight management

You’re likely to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight over time when you eat various foods and limit calorie intake. Healthy eating habits are also linked to lower weight gain during adulthood.

Lower Blood Pressure

Lower Blood Pressure

A balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help lower blood pressure and protect against heart disease.

Prevent age-related memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease

Eating foods rich in vitamins E and B6 may help protect brain cells from damage caused by free radicals (unstable molecules that cause cell damage). This may help prevent age-related memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Cancer prevention

According to the World Cancer Research Fund International, eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can reduce the risk of certain cancers such as colorectal cancer. Although there aren’t yet any proven ways to prevent cancer, adopting healthy lifestyle behaviors like exercising regularly

Improved immune system

Eating a balanced diet helps maintain a healthy immune system. The body needs vitamins and minerals from food to produce antibodies that fight infections.

Improved cardiovascular health

Improved cardiovascular health

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, reducing heart disease risk. It also helps prevent clogged arteries by increasing blood flow through the body.

Reduced risk of diabetes mellitus type 2 symptoms

A low-fat diet has been shown to help reduce symptoms associated with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), such as high blood glucose levels and poor blood sugar control during meals (postprandial glycemic excursions).

Eating Habits that Lead to Healthy Eating

Many healthy eating habits can make it easier to eat a healthy diet. Here are just a few of the most important ones:

  • Eat a variety of foods. Eating various foods helps ensure you get all the nutrients you need to stay healthy. It also helps prevent boredom, which can lead to overeating.
  • Eat breakfast every day. Eating breakfast helps you start your day with energy and prevents overeating at lunch and dinner.
  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are high in vitamins and minerals and low in calories, fat, and sodium. They also help fill you up, so you don’t feel as hungry later in the day.
  • Limit sugary drinks and snacks like chips, cookies, or candy to no more than:
Soft Drink
  • one serving per day for children 2-18 years old;
  • two servings per week for children under 2 years old;
  • three servings per week for adults 19 years old and older;
  • four servings per week for seniors 65 years old and older;
  • five servings per week if pregnant or breastfeeding;
  • six servings per week if active at least 60 minutes daily (based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Healthy Eating Index).
  • At least 2 cups of vegetables and 3 cups of fruit every day.
  • Choose whole grains over refined grains (such as white bread).
  • Limit your intake of red meat to no more than 2 servings per week.
  • Choose low-fat dairy products, such as skim milk and low-fat yogurt.
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks like soda and juice.
  • Limit your sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams daily (about one teaspoon).

Obesity is a significant risk factor for heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.

Excess weight can cause blood vessels to narrow and lead to high blood pressure (hypertension). High blood pressure increases the risk of stroke or heart attack. Over time, obesity may also increase your blood’s cholesterol and triglyceride levels (fats). This puts you at a higher risk of developing coronary artery disease, which could lead to a heart attack or stroke.

Obesity also increases the risk of chronic musculoskeletal disorders and other degenerative diseases.

It can lead to poor quality of life, social isolation, and even increased mortality rates.

The American Heart Association’s dietary recommendations include a goal to consume fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids at least twice per week.

The American Heart Association’s dietary recommendations include a goal to consume fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids at least twice per week. The primary benefit of consuming fish oil is its ability to reduce triglycerides. Still, it also increases the intake of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids and reduces inflammation, blood pressure, and the risk of heart attack and stroke.

The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish have improved cardiovascular health.

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential to the body because it does not naturally produce them.

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential to the body because it does not naturally produce them. The primary omega-3 fatty acid is eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), found in fish and fish oils. EPA has been associated with improved cardiovascular health, including a reduced risk of heart attacks, sudden cardiac death, and stroke. It has also been shown to reduce inflammation, swelling, and blood clotting in people with heart attacks.

In addition to reducing inflammation, omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to lowering cholesterol levels. However, researchers do not recommend using them as a single treatment for high cholesterol because they work more slowly than statins and other medications designed specifically for this condition.

Fish oil may lower triglyceride levels and prevent plaque buildup in the arteries.

Fish oil has been shown to have a positive effect on triglyceride levels, which are a type of fat in the blood. High triglycerides can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke. Fish oil may also lower blood pressure and improve blood vessel function, reducing your risk of heart attacks and strokes. In addition, fish oil may reduce your risk of developing diabetes by lowering insulin resistance and inflammation throughout the body (which is known to play an essential role in causing diabetes).

Consuming fish two or more times a week increases the intake of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA).

Consuming fish two or more times a week increases long-chain omega-3 fatty acid intake. Fish is an excellent source of protein, B vitamins, and iodine, which can be lacking in nonvegetarian diets.

  • Eat oily fish at least twice a week (such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel).
  • Aim to have one whole egg per day (if you’re healthy and not pregnant) because eggs are a good source of iron and other nutrients.
  • Use plant-based sources such as walnuts or flaxseed oil instead of olive oil in cooking dishes. Walnut oil has the highest percentage of omega-3 fatty acids – approximately 20% – compared with other nuts such as peanuts (10%) or almonds (2%).

Plant protein sources can be incorporated into healthy diets, including legumes, nuts, seeds, and grains.

As you’ve seen above, there are many sources of plant protein that can be many plant protein, such as legumes, nuts, seeds, and grains. Pulses include chickpeas (garbanzos), beans of all types (kidney beans, white beans), lentils, and peas. Nuts include almonds, peanuts, and cashews. Include chia, flax, and sunflower seeds; pumpkin seeds are also a rich source of plant-based protein.

Nuts are some of the best sources of protein on the planet – they’re high in healthy fats (the kind that will make you feel full longer) and vitamins like zinc, which are essential for immune system health. Just keep an eye on portion size since they can be calorie dense!

Nutrition affects our health on a large scale.

Nutrition affects our health on a large scale.

Unhealthy eating and physical inactivity are two of the most common risk factors for chronic disease. Many foods and drinks are high in calories, saturated fat, sodium, added sugars, and refined grains; these contribute to being overweight or obese.

  • Being overweight and obese can cause serious health problems. If you’re overweight or obese,
  • You’re more likely to develop heart disease.
  • Diabetes is more likely if you are overweight or obese.
  • Eating a healthy diet may reduce your risk of the following diseases by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels:
    • Cancer of the colon, breast (after menopause),
    • endometrium (lining of the uterus),
    • esophagus (the tube that connects the throat to the stomach),
    • kidney (renal cell),
    • pancreas (endocrine gland that secretes digestive juices and hormones),
    • Gallbladder, liver, prostate, testicles, ovary, uterus, & multiple myeloma have been found with increasing frequency among those who are overweight or obese.


As we have seen in this article, nutrition plays a significant role in our health. Not only does it affect weight, but it also affects the risk of developing heart disease and diabetes, as well as some cancers. While many factors can contribute to these diseases, nutrition is an important one that we can control with knowledge and awareness. I believe that the more we learn about the effects of nutrition on our health, the better equipped we will be to live long and healthy lives. This article was meant to give a brief overview of some of these effects and hopefully serve as a starting point for further research into this topic.

FAQ about how nutrition affects your health

How nutrition affects your health