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The Powder of Nutrition

Monica Sellecchia
November 16, 2022
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Millions of articles are written every day bombarding you with ways eating a healthy diet can help you lose weight, clear your skin, help you sleep better and fight off the common cold. Well what if, instead of focusing on how nutrition affects you as an individual, we focus on some ways nutrition affects the world that may have never crossed your mind? The effects of nutrition when viewed at a macro level can have everyday impact on your life, positive and negative. These effects may alter both the health and socioeconomic status of the world or just your family. As more and more research is performed, we are now able to see just how powerful nutrition really is. Here are three topics that give you an in depth look into the power of nutrition.

Population

You may not have thought about the direct effect that nutrition has on how many people actually live in the world. Maybe you’ve considered how starvation plays a role or maybe not, but here’s some perspective: Roughly 17 million of the 140 million children born each year are born to undernourished mothers. Poor nutrition is the cause of 45% of deaths in children under five. That translates to 3.1 million children dying each year because they don’t have enough food to sustain their health. The children that do survive to adulthood will grow to be one of the 800 million people who go undernourished on a daily basis, consuming less than the recommended 2,100 calories a day. It’s 2016 – how is this still happening? That’s quite powerful!

Nutrition also affects world population in regards to the number of people that are actually born. 30% of infertility is due to either being overweight or underweight, according to the National Infertility Association in the US. That means that poor nutrition, whether it leads you to being larger or smaller than what is healthy, can determine your ability to conceive. This not only affects women, but men who are looking to have a baby as well. Poor nutrition negatively affects men’s testosterone and other hormonal levels. Evidence shows that a healthy diet and lifestyle can potentially help with fertility and fetal well being, resulting in more successful births.

Childhood Cognition

Malnutrition in-utero and throughout childhood can impair a child’s attention, memory, thinking, learning and perception. Research has shown that nutrients play a vital role in cell survival, DNA synthesis, hormone metabolism and overall brain function and development. This affects students throughout their scholastic career, and tons of studies support a strong correlative relationship.

Some studies have shown that eating breakfast at school helps children perform better. Others found that students who eat breakfast at school have better attendance records and exhibit fewer behavior problems. Education increases an individual’s sense of personal control and selfesteem, which have been shown to influence better health behavior.

Higher education rates have been linked to better access to health care and housing, better lifestyle and ultimately, better jobs, higher income and a higher socio-economic status. So does that mean nutrition directly affects workplace productivity and your economic prosperity? As simple a thing as whether a child gets breakfast daily may actually affect the rest of that child’s life. That too is quite powerful.

Classrooms are a community environment catering to the full strata of those within the class. Some students within that class are likely to experience poorer nutrition than others, whether by choice (parental or otherwise) or by lack of education on nutrition. If this is the case, nutrition may be affecting your child or your family no matter how strong a nutritional foundation you provide. It raises the question of whether better nourishment for children would actually benefit everyone everywhere in the long run.

Worker Productivity

Have you ever looked at the guy in the next cubicle eating donuts every morning and thought to yourself “that guy is costing us a lot of money.” If you haven’t, maybe you should. A study published in the journal Population Health Management showed that eating unhealthily is linked with a 66 percent increased risk of loss of productivity in the workplace. Loss of productivity means lower profits, and that likely translates to less money to distribute when bonus time comes around. Poor nutrition may be hitting you in the pocket and affecting your lifestyle, your family choices, and your future even if you yourself eat perfectly well. 

A study by the International Labor Office (ILO) says, “Poor diet is costing countries around the world up to 20 percent in lost productivity either due to malnutrition that plagues some one billion people in developing countries or the excess weight and obesity afflicting an equal number in industrialized economies.” The study further reports that better nutrition in the workplace could easily increase the productivity of the company. So, this is a global concern with exponential effects. Once again…quite powerful.

This is the part within the nutrition conversation where you may either feel empathy, apathy or anger. I’ll leave that to you; however it also reinstates the power that nutrition has on our daily life, whether we think we are perfectly healthy or not. Whether we live in America or Africa, nutrition is universal.

Monica Sellecchia

Monica Sellecchia is a Certified Chef & Health Enthusiast.

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