The human body is made up of many systems. They include the circulatory system, respiratory system, musculoskeletal system, the digestive system among others. The digestive system is in charge of the ingested food. The organs of the digestive system include the mouth, the esophagus, the stomach, the small intestine, the large intestine, the rectum, and the anus. The accessory organs of the digestive system include the liver, the pancreas, and the gall bladder.
Generally, there are six classes of food. Carbohydrates, fats and oils, proteins, vitamins, mineral salts, and water make up these classes. Fats and oils, carbohydrates, and proteins are macronutrients because they are needed in large quantities for the body to function maximally. They provide energy and help in the building and repair of worn-out tissues.
On the other hand, vitamins and mineral salts are needed in small quantities, hence, they are known as micronutrients. They help in blood clotting, bone growth, brain development, and adequate functioning of the immune system. The vitamins have two groups, fat-soluble vitamins, and water-soluble vitamins. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble and are stored in the body. Water-soluble vitamins, on the other hand, are not stored in the body, so, there is a need for regular replacement. Vitamins B and C are water-soluble.
Rice, grains, yam, and potatoes are some examples of carbohydrate foods. Legumes, poultry, fish, egg, and dairy products make up protein foods. Butter, walnuts, and palm oil are part of the foods that supply fats and oil. Fruits and vegetables are good sources of vitamins and minerals.
Due to poverty, some persons suffer deficiency from poor intake. Also, chronic health conditions, medications, inadequate absorption, and an increase in nutritional needs that are not met can result in nutrient deficiencies. These deficiencies can give rise to various disorders like anemia, goiter, rickets, scurvy, beriberi, and bleeding disorders.
The emergence of food supplements
To curb nutrient deficiencies, capsules, pills, liquids, and tablets containing concentrated forms of various nutrients were produced. They are known as food supplements. They are taken in recommended doses to avoid overdosing and adverse effects. These supplements are not to replace a healthy and balanced diet. However, some persons may need food supplements even in the presence of a healthy diet, like women of reproductive age. They are advised to take daily dosing of folic acid, as it helps to decrease the incidence of neural tube defects in babies.
Food supplements are not a substitute for a healthy diet
However, it has been noted that people have been trying to replace their nutritional dietary gaps with supplements. In the US, about $50 billion was spent on food supplements in the year 2021. A review by the United States Preventive Services Task Force, (USPSTF) showed that there was not enough proof showing cancer and cardiovascular diseases prevention by multivitamins and supplement intake by healthy adults who were not pregnant. They also discovered a probable increase in the risk of lung cancer occurrence in those taking beta carotene supplements. They noted that vitamin E was not so beneficial in cardiovascular disease or mortality reduction.
Linder and his team explained in the JAMA editorial that there were additional nutrients and substances in natural vitamins and fruits that work together with the key nutrients to maintain health. This makes them better than just an isolated nutrient in supplements. So, there is still a need to maintain an adequate and healthy diet.
It is better to stop a problem from developing than to solve the problem that has developed already. Hence, the incidence of cardiovascular diseases and cancers can be prevented by eating healthy and having adequate exercise.
In a bid to fill in the deficiencies in their diet, people tend to spend more on food supplements. Though this is beneficial in some cases, our study has shown that it is not a substitute for a healthy diet. So, there is a need to encourage people to concentrate more on eating healthy. However, the cost of healthy feeding and the inability to afford some exercise facilities are still challenges that need to be surmounted.
The importance of adequate nutrition and exercise is massive. The emergence of food supplements is beneficial, but, cannot replace the natural vitamins and nutrients in food. Therefore, more efforts should be geared towards overcoming the challenges of cost. Suitable exercise environments should be provided also.