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Health and Nutrition

The science of nutrition helps us improve our foods choices by identifying the amounts of nutrients we need, the best food sources of those nutrients, and the other components in foods that may be helpful or harmful. Learning about nutrition will help us make better choices and not only improve our health, but also reduce our risk of disease and increase our longevity. Keep in mind, though, that no matter how much you know about nutrition, you are still likely to choose some foods simply for their taste or just because they make you feel good.

Why do we eat the way we do?

Do you "eat to live" or "live to eat"? For most of us, the first is certainly true. You must eat to live. But there may be times when our enjoyment of food is more important to us than the nourishment we get from it. Factors such as age, gender, genetic makeup, occupation, lifestyle, family and cultural background affect our daily food choices. We use to project a desired image, forge relationships, express friendship, show creativity and disclose our feelings. We cope with anxiety or stress by eating or not eating; we reward ourselves with food for a good grade or a job well done, or, in extreme cases, we punish failures by denying our selves the benefits and comfort of eating.

Food preferences begin early in life and then change as we interact with parents, friends and peers. Further experiences with different people, places, and situations often, but not always cause us to expand or change our preferences. Taste and other sensory factors such as texture are the most important things that influence our food choices. Next are cost and convenience. What we eat reveals much about who we are.  "We are what we eat". Therefore, it is very important that we make the right food choices to improve our health and well-being.

It is important to have a nutritionally balanced diet, which supports proper growth, development and maintains our body weight in a healthy weight range. Eating foods with all essential nutrients prevents  nutritional deficiencies such as scurvy (Vitamin C deficiency) or pellagra (niacin deficiency). Many of us suffer from chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, hypertension and diabetes - all linked to overconsumption and lifestyle choices. Your future health depends on today's lifestyle choices, including your food choices.