By Rochelle Embling, Aimee Pink, Laura Wilkinson and Menna Price in The Conversation.
It’s well known that a healthy diet can help reduce disease risks that are related to overweight or obesity – such as some cancers, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. As part of a healthy diet, experts around the world advise people to consume a variety of foods. In the UK for example, the NHS’s Eatwell Guide divides foods into food groups (starchy carbohydrates, fruit and veg, dairy or dairy alternatives, proteins, and fats). To get a “balanced diet”, the guide advises people to aim to eat a certain amount of food from each food group.
One reason food variety is included in recommendations is because different foods have different nutrients. Eating a varied diet can benefit our health by reducing risks associated with malnutrition, which happens when we don’t get the right amount of nutrients from our diet. Malnutrition can cause weak muscles, decrease mobility, increase illness, and lead to breathing problems, among other symptoms.
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