unsuitable diet

How an unsuitable diet can contribute to illness and disease

The aim of this report is to look at nutrition and explain how an unsuitable diet can contribute to illness and disease. We will be focusing what a healthy diet is, the Government's guidelines for healthy eating and will analyse the different illnesses that are caused by an unhealthy diet.


A good diet is an essential part for good health. A healthy and varied diet helps maintain a healthy body weight, improve general wellbeing and minimises the risk of some diseases that can occur due to a poor diet, including heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and osteoporosis.

A healthy diet is a diet that is based on starchy foods, such as bread, rice, potatoes, pasta and is also high in fruits and vegetables. A healthy diet will include: moderate amounts of milk and dairy foods; proteins such as meat, fish, eggs and beans; and limited amounts of foods and drinks that are high in fat and sugar.

There isn't a single food in the world that can provide all the essential nutrients that the body requires therefore, it is important to eat a wide variety of foods to provide adequate intakes of vitamins, minerals and nutrients, which are important for good health.

A healthy diet should include the following nutrients:

Ø Proteins which help build the body and are good for the brain, blood, skin and all other tissues.

Ø Carbohydrates are responsible for giving the body energy.

Ø Fats give energy. The body will store fats if too much is eaten and not used up.

Ø Minerals are responsible for building the bones and teeth. It occurs naturally from the earth and includes calcium, iron and fluoride.

Ø Vitamins help to maintain a healthy body.

Ø Fibre which helps to maintain a healthy bowel.

Ø Water makes up two thirds of the body weight and is essential to drink.

To enable all of these nutrients to be added to a balanced diet, portions from the following five food groups should be consumed, these are as follows:

Ø Oils and fats are a concentrated source of energy, but too much can be bad for the heart resulting in heart disease later on in life. A small portion is required; this can be found in cheese, meat products, pies and biscuits.

Ø High protein foods are essential for body growth and can be found in meat, fish, poultry, eggs, tofu, quorn and pulses. 2 portions of this food group a day.

Ø Milk and dairy contain proteins and vitamins A & B for a healthy nervous system. It is a good source of calcium, which promotes strong healthy teeth and bones, and is found in all dairy produce like milk, cheese, yogurts. 3 portions of dairy group per day.

Ø Fruit and vegetables These provide a good source of vitamins, minerals and fibre. 5 portions of this group a day.

Ø Potatoes and cereals This provides energy and some protein, vitamins, minerals and fibre. This food group includes bread, pasta, breakfast cereals, rice and potatoes. 6 portions per day.

The food pyramid

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1. Government Guidelines for a Healthy Diet

The government have introduced a number of initiatives in order to encourage healthy eating such as, the eat five a day, which encourages adults and children to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables every day. The government have also encouraged food companies to make their labels more clear and to show exactly what is contained in their foods that are for sale in the shops.

After completing extensive research on obesity, the government have provided some guidelines on healthy eating and the sorts of foods that should be eaten in order for individuals to remain healthy.

The government's eight guidelines for a healthy diet include:

1 Enjoy your food

2 Eat a variety of different foods

3 Eat the right amount to maintain a healthy weight

4 Eat plenty of foods rich in starch and fibre

5 Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables

6 Do not eat too many foods that contain a lot of fat

7 Do not have sugary foods and drinks too often

8 If you drink alcohol, drink sensibly

2. Complications and illnesses that arise from eating unhealthy

The government have indicated that the UK has the highest mortality rate in Europe for coronary heart disease and that there is also a huge rise in obesity, especially in childhood obesity.

Obesity is the primary cause for most diseases and illnesses and can be described as the condition or physical state of the body when excess fats are deposited in the adipose tissue. These excess fats that are deposited in the adipose tissue, put strain on the some of the bodily organs, such as the heart, kidneys, liver and the joints (hip, knees and ankles). Thus, overweight people are susceptible to several diseases like high blood pressure, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, heart attack and cancer.

2.1. High blood pressure

Blood pressure is defined as the amount of pressure exerted on the walls of the arteries as the blood moves through them. High blood pressure (hypertension) is usually defined as having a sustained blood pressure of 140/90mmHg or above.

High blood pressure often causes no symptoms or immediate problems, but it is a major risk factor for developing a serious cardiovascular disease (conditions that can affect the circulation of blood around the body), such as a stroke or heart disease.

If you have high blood pressure, your heart has to work harder to pump blood around your body. Over time, this can weaken it. Also, the increased pressure can damage the walls of your arteries, which can result in a blockage or cause the artery to split (haemorrhage). Both of these situations can cause a stroke.

In 95% of cases, there is no single identifiable reason for a raise in blood pressure. However, all available evidence shows that your lifestyle plays a significant role in regulating your blood pressure. Risk factors for high blood pressure include:

* Age.

* Excessive alcohol consumption.

* Poor diet.

* Lack of exercise.

* Obesity.

2.2. Arthritis

Arthritis is a term used to describe a number of painful conditions of the joints and bones. Two of the main types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. Cartilage (connective tissue) between the bones gradually wastes away (degenerates), and this can lead to painful rubbing of bone on bone in the joints. It may also cause joints to fall out of their natural positions (misalignment). The most frequently affected joints are in the hands, spine, knees and hips.

The cause of osteoarthritis is not fully known. Factors that may contribute to the development of osteoarthritis include:

* obesity, which puts added strain on joints,

* jobs, or activities, that involve repetitive movements of a particular joint, or

· previous damage to the joint, such as from a sports injury.

2.3. Diabetes

Diabetes is a long-term (chronic) condition caused by too much glucose (sugar) in the blood. It is also sometimes known as diabetes mellitus.

Diabetes affects two million people in England and Wales. It is also thought that there are a further 750,000 people who have the condition but are unaware of it.

Normally, the amount of sugar in the blood is controlled by a hormone called insulin, which is produced by the pancreas (a gland that is located behind the stomach). When food is digested and enters the bloodstream, insulin helps to move any glucose out of the blood and into cells, where it is broken down to produce energy.

However, in diabetes, because there is either not enough insulin, or because there is a poor response (resistance) to insulin, the body is unable to fully use the glucose in the blood stream.

There are two types of diabetes: diabetes type 1 and diabetes type 2. This article focuses on type 2 diabetes. See Useful links for information about type 1 diabetes.

In most cases, type 2 diabetes is thought to be linked to having excess body fat. If you are overweight or obese, the cells in your body become less responsive to the effects of insulin. This explains why 80% of people who develop type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese, tend not to get much exercise, and have a large waist.

2.4. Heart disease

Coronary heart disease is the UK's biggest killer, with one in every four men and one in every six women dying from the disease. In the UK, approximately 300,000 people have a heart attack each year.

Coronary heart disease is the term that describes what happens when your heart's blood supply is blocked or interrupted by a build-up of fatty substances in the coronary arteries.

Over time, the walls of your arteries can become furred up with fatty deposits. This process is known as atherosclerosis, and the fatty deposits are called atheroma. If your coronary arteries become narrow due to a build up of atheroma, the blood supply to your heart will be restricted. This can cause angina (chest pains).

If a coronary artery becomes completely blocked, it can cause a heart attack. The medical term for a heart attack is myocardial infarction.

By making some simple lifestyle changes, you can reduce your risk of getting coronary heart disease. And if you already have heart disease, you can take steps to reduce your risk of developing further heart-related problems

2.5. Stroke

A stroke is a serious medical condition that occurs when the blood supply to the brain is disturbed.

Like all organs, our brain needs the oxygen and nutrients provided by our blood to function properly. If the supply of blood is restricted or stopped, brain cells begin to die. This can lead to brain damage and possibly death.

Strokes are a medical emergency, and prompt treatment is essential because the sooner a person receives treatment for a stroke, the less damage is likely to happen.

In England, strokes are a major health problem. With over 111,000 people having a stroke every year, they are the third largest cause of death. The brain damage caused by strokes means that they are the largest cause of adult disability in the UK.

Smoking, obesity, poor diet and excessive alcohol consumption are also risk factors for stroke. Also, conditions that affect the circulation of the blood, such as diabetes or hypertension (high blood pressure), increase your risk of having a stroke

2.6. Heart attack

A heart attack, also known as myocardial infarction, or coronary thrombosis, is when part of the heart muscle dies because it has been starved of oxygen.

A heart attack usually occurs when a blood clot forms in one of the coronary arteries (the blood vessels that lead to the heart muscle), blocking the blood supply to the heart. A blockage can also sometimes be caused by a spasm (sudden narrowing) of a coronary artery.

A heart attack often causes severe and crushing pain in the middle of the chest. This pain may then travel from the chest to the neck, jaw, ears, arms and wrists. The person may also be cold and clammy, and their skin may appear pale and grey in colour.

Risk factors

A heart attack is much more likely to occur when your arteries have become narrowed. This usually happens over a period of many years. The arteries are often narrowed by fatty deposits that form on the artery walls. There are a number of factors that can increase the risk of these fatty deposits forming. Smoking, high blood pressure, poor diet, lack of exercise and obesity are all contributing factors.

3. Ways to prevent obesity

Prevention is the key to any health issue and recognizing the factors that cause the issue will help decipher what needs to done in order to prevent the condition from happening.

Obesity is primarily caused by excessive eating, irregular eating habits and consuming unhealthy, fatty foods. Thus, obesity can be prevented by undertaking regular exercise, controlling eating habits and maintaining a healthy diet.

Childhood is becoming a bigger problem everyday and this could be prevented by ensuring that all children achieve a balance between their food intake and exercise output.

Education about food and nutrition will equip the individual with the knowledge to enable them to choose a balanced diet, it also helps them understand why having good food and nutrition is important and teaches them the importance of the relationship between diet and exercise. Preparing individuals with the skills to enable them to purchase, prepare and cook for themselves safely empowers them to become capable for future.

Physical exercise can help keep your body fit and healthy and help build and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints. Physical exercise is also important for your mental health. Physical activity has been associated with increased academic performance, self-concept, mood, and mental health; the promotion of physical activity and exercise may also improve quality of life.


From the information above, it can be concluded that food, nutrition and all physical activity are intrinsic to the development of every human being and that maintaining a healthy diet is essential to prevent certain illnesses and diseases.


Sasha TaylorPage 23

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