Issues in Food and Nutrition Essay

“The evolution of the human diet is of great interest to anthropologists, biologists and nutritionists alike. The evidence base each discipline utilises in their research is varied, both in nature and quality. Critically discuss the evolution of the human diet and evaluate the methodologies employed by different disciplines in developing this knowledge,” Every human being has a primary purpose and is always trying to fulfil their needs and wants.

This has been to satisfy the structural and functional needs providing energy and nutrients so that the body has a constant balance. The human diet is based around behavioural influences by both culture (developing world) and technological (developed world) Over the years the human diet has had many influences, improvements in treatments, experiments, and inventions these have all lead us to develop a greater knowledge of the best foods, when to eat them and how much to eat of them.

Cost has always played a major role in the human diet. Evolution of the diet started with the domestication of livestock this considerably changed the supply of food. The introduction of agriculture showed that there was an interrelation between food supply and cost. When stable, balanced healthy human diets were first introduced it was in conjunction with the start of food production. This chain of production lead to an increase in food availability providing education regarding nutritional values in food products. With the research done by biologists learning about absorption and metabolic utilization rates of nutrients. This meant there has been an increased amount of information available. Resulting in a staple diet amongst most the western world. A complete contrast to the diet of survival that has evolved in the eastern world.

The cost belief relationship between a healthy diet for the richer end of society and the poor has evolved starting as far back as the Roman times. The Roman Republics frugal diet was if you were wealthy then food became available and varied for those who could afford it. In today’s modern environment a healthy human diet is available where food is in surplus and where there is a general reduction of physical activity. “Foods are mixtures of substances known as nutrients, each nutrient has a particular type of chemical composition and performs at least one specific function in the body,” (Shils 2000)

There are five groups of nutrients that are essential to the human diet and over time it has proved that each one has its own function. The five are; Carbohydrates which provide the body with energy and dietary fibre. Fats and Oils which provide energy. Proteins witch aid the growth and repair of tissue and Vitamins and Minerals that regulate the body process on a whole. It is now recommended that sugar, fat and salt levels in the human diet should be reduced and the levels of starch and dietary fibre increased.

However too much of certain nutrients has proven to be a problem, for example; too much dietary fibre in the diet can result in bowel cancer, too much sugar can result in tooth decay and too much food in general can result in obesity. Lack of certain nutrients can also have an adverse affect on the human diet, as nutritionists are now aware. For example; a shortage of Vitamin C can result in scurvy. The problems of the human diet can all result in one main problem and this has been a major issue all over the world; malnutrition

The WHO report in 2000 showed that there was a worrying attitude that the human diet was not an issue in the UK. 46% of the survey said that they lead a healthy lifestyle, the remaining 54% did not care about the diet and that it was mainly the barriers to change that was the major factor in them having an unhealthy diet. The barriers that were of issue were cost, lack of will power, habit and family influences. The nutritional recommendations and awareness that nutritionists were trying to get across was being noted however the practical implementation of the methodologies is the main reason for a lack of improvement.

A nutritionist’s main role is to be an expert on foods and nutrient value.(Rose 2000) This approach is to assess and prevent against the possible risks to health. This could be because of people taking an over consumption of certain nutrients and foods; for example fat, salt and sugar. The objective of the nutritionist is to try to find a balance that suits a certain group of people, aiming to ensure that they maintain the optimum health needed throughout life.

Form a nutritionist’s point of view the concept of knowledge has been evolving for the past one hundred years, ever since there was a notable relationship between disease and nutrient deficiencies and poor diet. It was not till the early 1920’s that the classification was applied and foods were now been categorised into; “Indispensable” and non-essential”. Nutritional knowledge has increased and the ideas of what constitutes a healthy diet have changed considerably.

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