The foundation of good health is good nutrition.
Nutrition encompasses the quality, quantity and types of food you consume on a daily basis. Everyone has basic nutrient and energy requirements - and these should be met by a balanced diet. At different points in our lives (such as a teenager's growth-spurt, or during pregnancy) your requirements will change - and during these times it's often necessary to make dietary and lifestyle adjustments.
How does nutrition work?
Vitamins and minerals are the nutrients in food that your body needs to work properly. They play an important role in maintaining good health - affecting immunity, energy, hormone status, detoxification, cognition, growth and development.
Nutrition, however, is more than simply what you eat. When we talk about nutrition in natural medicine, we are also referring to how you eat - this includes digestive function, your attitude towards food and the environment in which you eat. When digestion is working well, you will be able to taste and appreciate the food and drinks you consume, have a healthy appetite, and feel a sense of wellness after eating.
Before you can use the nutrients in the food, your body needs to break it down into smaller particles, which make them easier for absorption - this will nourish cells and be used as fuel for energy. When your digestive function isn't up to scratch, you can't break down food efficiently, meaning you won't get the best value out of your meals. If your nutrient needs aren't met, because of poor diet or poor digestion, then your body won't function as well and health will gradually deteriorate.
While supplementation is often beneficial - particularly in the case of a deficiency - the advantage of maintaining a well-balanced diet is that you get an abundance of health-giving nutrients, in a wide variety of forms that the body can use. A key tenet of natural medicine is synergy, which is the practice of using elements that work more effectively when combined than alone. Nature provides numerous examples of this, such as foods high in one or two specific nutrients that also contain small amounts of other nutrients, important for absorption.