The nutrients in the foods you eat support the activities of day-to-day living, protect your cells from environmental damage and repair any cellular damage that might occur. Protein rebuilds injured tissue and promotes a healthy immune system. Both carbohydrates and fats fuel your body, while vitamins and minerals function throughout your body in support of your body’s processes. Vitamins A, C and E, for example, act as antioxidants to protect your cells against toxins, and B vitamins help you extract energy from the foods you eat. Calcium and phosphorus keep your bones strong, while sodium and potassium help to transmit nerve signals. Without a healthy diet, you might compromise any of these essential functions.
In addition to the quality of the foods you consume, the quantity matters when considering good eating habits. Taking in the same number of calories as you burn ensures your weight remains steady over time. Consuming more than you burn, on the other hand, results in weight gain as your body converts extra calories to fat tissue. When you accumulate fat tissue, you increase your risk of developing one or more health problems, including heart disease, hypertension, respiratory issues, diabetes and cancer. A healthy meal plan without excess calories helps you not only feel better but can prolong your life.