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Reference Terms
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Nutrition

Nutrition is a science that examines the relationship between diet and health.

Dietitians are health professionals who specialize in this area of study, and are trained to provide safe, evidence-based dietary advice and interventions.

Deficiencies, excesses and imbalances in diet can produce negative impacts on health, which may lead to diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, scurvy, obesity or osteoporosis, as well as psychological and behavioral problems.

Moreover, excessive ingestion of elements that have no apparent role in health, (e.g. lead, mercury, PCBs, dioxins), may incur toxic and potentially lethal effects, depending on the dose.

Many common diseases and their symptoms can often be prevented or alleviated with better nutrition.

In general, eating a variety of fresh, whole (unprocessed) plant foods has proven hormonally and metabolically favourable compared to eating a monotonous diet based on processed foods.

In particular, consumption of whole plant foods slows digestion and provides higher amounts and a more favourable balance of essential and vital nutrients per unit of energy; resulting in better management of cell growth, maintenance, and mitosis (cell division) as well as regulation of blood glucose and appetite.

A generally more regular eating pattern (e.g. eating medium-sized meals every 2 to 3 hours) has also proven more hormonally and metabolically favourable than infrequent, haphazard food intake.

There are six main classes of nutrients that the body needs: carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water.

It is important to consume these six nutrients on a daily basis to build and maintain health.

Poor health can be caused by an imbalance of nutrients, either an excess or deficiency, which, in turn, affects bodily functions cumulatively.

Moreover, because most nutrients are involved in cell-to-cell signalling (e.g. as building blocks or as part of a hormone or signalling cascades), deficiency or excess of various nutrients affects hormonal function indirectly.

Thus, because they largely regulate the expression of genes, hormones represent a link between nutrition and how our genes are expressed, i.e. our phenotype.

The strength and nature of this link are continually under investigation, but recent observations have demonstrated a pivotal role for nutrition in hormonal activity and function and therefore in health.

Note:   The above text is excerpted from the Wikipedia article "Nutrition", which has been released under the GNU Free Documentation License.
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