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Health is not only understood as the sole absence of illness, but also includes physical, mental and social well-being (definition of health according to WHO). The years of life spent in health are thus a measure of the quality of life.
The preventive potential of nutrition makes a significant contribution to maintaining or promoting health. The optimal intake of all nutrients should counteract certain risk factors and prevent nutrition-dependent diseases.
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- Years of life in health
- Diseases of civilization
Years of life in health
According to estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO), the loss of many “years of life in health” in Europe is often attributable to diseases in the development of which diet plays an important role. Cardiovascular diseases, cancer and diabetes mellitus are particularly relevant here. Depending on the type of illness, smoking, alcohol consumption, environmental pollutants and a lack of exercise also play a decisive role. The lifestyle associated with increasing prosperity causes an increase in these diseases, which are often chronic.
Diseases of civilization
The WHO attaches a decisive role to prevention in the approach to non-communicable chronic diseases and therefore recommends measures against the “deadly quartet”. According to the European Commission, unhealthy diet and lack of exercise are the main causes of preventable diseases and low life expectancy in Europe.
Note The “fatal quartet” includes the factors malnutrition, lack of exercise, smoking and alcohol abuse.
In addition to certain individual risk factors, chronic overeating and malnutrition are among the main risks for the development of nutrition-dependent diseases. Usually these diseases break out due to the interaction of many factors. In addition to malnutrition, environmental factors and inheritance are also important. Nutrition-dependent diseases can be influenced by diet in terms of their development and course - albeit to a different extent. In the case of already existing diseases, the treatment can also include nutritional medicine or nutritional therapy measures.
The best known nutrition-associated diseases are:
- Overweight or obesity,
- increased blood lipid levels,
- various heart and vascular diseases including high blood pressure,
- Type 2 diabetes and
Gout, cirrhosis of the liver, tooth decay, food intolerance, food allergies, certain cancers and rheumatoid arthritis are also nutrition-associated diseases.
For more information, see Nutritional Advice and Therapy