Overview of diet related diseases. Foundation. Learning objectives. To understand that diet has an impact on health. To understand the concept of malnutrition, i.e. under nutrition and over nutrition.
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A balanced diet is based on the guidelines of The eatwell plate.
An unbalanced diet can lead to dietary related diseases.
Having intakes of energy and/or nutrients below or in excess of needs for long periods of time can affect health. This is called malnutrition.
Severe under nutrition (having an intake of energy and/or nutrients below what is needed) is rare in the United Kingdom, but can be common in some developing countries. However, under nutrition does occur in the UK, e.g. micronutrient deficiencies.
Children suffer the effects of starvation (not enough food) more quickly than adults.
Worldwide, Kwashiorkor and marasmus are two common diseases caused by a lack of protein and energy.
Fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) and minerals are stored in the body so it takes time for deficiency diseases to develop.
Water soluble vitamins are not stored in the body so low intakes usually lead to signs of deficiency relatively quickly.
Over nutrition is a problem usually associated with developed countries, such as the United Kingdom.
The most common over nutrition problem is obesity with too much energy being consumed, or high levels of inactivity.
The risk of malnutrition is increased by:
• increased requirements for some nutrients;
• restricted range of foods;
• reduction in available income;
• very low income;
• medical conditions;
• psychological conditions.
Cancer is a complex disease which can take a long time to develop.
A wide variety of factors are involved in the development of cancer, including:
Cancer is the development of abnormal cells in the body.
Cancer can occur in different parts of the body.
The most common cancers in the UK are:
• lung, prostate and colon cancer in men;
• breast, lung and colon cancer in women.
The World Cancer Research Fund has released 8 prevention strategies for cancer.
1. Be as lean as possible within the normal range of body weight.
2. Be physically active as part of everyday life.
3. Limit consumption of energy dense foods.
4. Eat mostly foods of plant origin.
5. Limit intake of red meat and avoid processed meat.
6. Limit alcoholic drinks.
7. Limit consumption of salt.
8. Aim to meet nutritional needs through diet alone.
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is caused by a narrowing of the blood vessels to the heart. This reduces the flow of blood to the heart.
If one of the blood vessels becomes completely blocked, the blood supply to part of the heart stops and that part is damaged. This is called a heart attack.
CHD is the most common cause of death in the United Kingdom. It is a major cause of premature death (i.e. before the age of 65 years).
CHD is more common in men than in women.
The chance of suffering from CHD is affected by many factors. These are called risk factors.
Factors that increase the risk of CHD include -
High intakes of fat, especially saturated fat can increase the amount of cholesterol in the blood.
Changes to the diet to reduce the risk of CHD include:
• increasing oily fish intake;
• reducing salt intake;
• increase fruit and vegetables;
• decrease alcohol consumption.
Cholesterol is a type of fat that is needed to make cells
in the body function properly. It is produced in the
liver and some is also obtained from the diet.
Cholesterol is carried around the body in the blood.
High levels of cholesterol in blood increase the risk of
The level of cholesterol in the blood depends partly on
genetic factors, but can also be affected by diet.
The level of blood cholesterol is affected by the amount and type of fat in the diet.
High intakes of saturated fatty acids, and of total fat, can increase the amount of cholesterol in the blood, and therefore increase the risk of CHD.
Most people are consuming too much saturated fat and need to switch to foods containing unsaturated fat.
If a person regularly consumes more energy from food and drink than they need, they will start to gain weight, eventually becoming overweight. For example,
energy in > energy out.
Extra energy from food and drink is stored in the body as fat.
There are a range of weights which are considered healthy for a given height.
A person who is very overweight is obese.
Obesity is becoming increasingly common in North America, Australasia and Europe.
People who are obese are more likely to suffer from coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure and some types of cancers.
Being active is important in maintaining a healthy weight.
Being slightly overweight is not a risk to health, but it is important to not continue gaining weight.
Calcium is important for strong bones. Vitamin D is needed for calcium to be absorbed from food.
Osteoporosis is a disease where bones become weak, brittle and break easily. It is caused by severe losses of calcium.
Healthy bone is strong and does not break easily.
During childhood, adolescence and early adulthood, calcium and other substances are added to the bone. This makes it stronger.
After the age of 30-35, bone loss begins. After the menopause women lose bone at an increased rate.
Strong bones contain plenty of calcium and their strength is affected by:
• body weight;
The mineral iron is vital for making red blood cells. Iron from the diet forms haemoglobin, which carries oxygen in the blood.
If the body’s store of iron is low and there is too little iron in the diet, the symptoms of iron deficiency anaemia will start to develop.
Large amounts of iron can be toxic.
Iron from animal sources is more easily absorbed than iron from plant sources. Vitamin C increases absorption of iron from plant sources.
It is important that the diets of infants and young children contain foods rich in iron.
Iron requirements increase during adolescence because of growth and for girls at the start of menstruation.
Some women have very high iron requirements because they have large menstrual losses.