By Justinne Lou Go, RND
NUTRITION or a healthy lifestyle in general has been catching some fire since the past few years as more and more people are becoming aware of the value of health in this fast-paced, modern generation. I am not sure how Cebuanos suddenly started thinking of wanting to live a healthier lifestyle but I presume this can be traced back to the time when yoga studios were gaining popularity, which was just a few years ago. Many yogis tend to shift to a vegetarian or vegan diet, so this is probably one of the factors that encouraged the foodservice industry to expand their offerings. Also, with the fast-paced lifestyle and more pollution in our city, more people have probably been experiencing more health concerns and at alarmingly earlier years in life (ex. hypertension at young adulthood).
For the longest time, the idea of nutrition has only been recognized in the form of “diets” whose necessity has solely been attributed to weight loss goals. This idea has marginalized nutrition to a very limited context that manifested into a virtual jungle of fad diets and misinformation. Fortunately, with the steady shift in trends towards health and wellness nowadays, the concept of nutrition is blooming into the intricate concept that it actually is. People are now learning to look for Nutritionist-Dietitians to guide them with their health through the power of food.
However, nutrition still tends to be taken for granted when it comes to managing one’s health. People tend to push it to the back seat, making it a last resort when medications have failed to bring comfort and the quality of life one would aspire for to be considered “well” or “healthy.”
And when people go to nutrition as a last resort after being diagnosed with a disease and sentenced to a lifetime dependency on medication, one’s health condition may most likely be far less reparable than if nutrition was given high priority for early prevention. Think about it, why wait for your body to break down in disease when you can keep it in good shape with nutrition? And I’m not talking about dietary supplements, I mean real, whole food as it naturally is. No amount of nutrient in pill form can be better than food in its most natural state. It’s all about going back to the basics, the foundation of our health.
You see, nutrition goes beyond just “diets.” It encompasses both wellness and sickness in that it is needed before we get sick (prevention) and after we get sick (treatment). Neither point in the health spectrum is more important than the other; the main point is that nutrition is needed from the beginning towards the end of one’s health. All roads lead to nutrition. This is why nutrition is the key determinant of health; it is the be all and end all, the foundation and essence of health. Food is not only energy, it is information, communication, and medicine! Thus, our food choices play a big role in influencing our health; food can either be poison or medicine.
The saying “prevention is better than cure” may very well be the epitome of nutrition. The science of nutrition is there to prevent us from degrading in disease and to give us a means to live life to the fullest — in optimal health. Prevention is by all means far better than cure. It may seem expensive when choosing less processed, more natural food, but it’s a matter of looking at health as an investment. In the long run, you will realize that you’ve saved so much by keeping yourself out of the hospital and not having to take maintenance medication. If our bodies were cars, regular check-ups and fine tuning through annual medical exams and lab tests and fueling up with the right diet are the best ways to take care of the bodies we were gifted with in this life.
I hope that more doctors would recognize the significance of nutrition in the health management of their patients and be more proactive in referring their patients to Nutritionist-Dietitians for nutrition management. After all, medications are only as good as band aids, so if one does not nourish his body with the right kind of food, his body (specifically, the cells) will not be able to function optimally and thus, be unable to process nutrients and medication efficiently. That would only create a vicious cycle of recurring symptoms, dependency on medication, and limits a person to live up to his full potential.