In a recent medical study, a teenage boy became permanently blind due to his unhealthy 7-year diet of fries, Pringles, white bread, and processed ham slices and sausage.
At age 14, the boy, experiencing tiredness, was diagnosed with vitamin B12 deficiency and given appropriate supplements. However, the teen did not improve his diet, and at age 15, his hearing and vision began to decline. At age 17, he had become legally blind, his vision at 20/200 in both eyes.
The teen was then diagnosed with nutritional optic neuropathy, as tests showed that his optic nerve, the bunch of nerve fibers that connect the back of the eyeball to the brain, had sustained serious damage. He also had concerningly low levels of vitamin B12, vitamin D, copper, and selenium.
The teen was additionally diagnosed with avoidant-restrictive food intake disorder, also known as "selective eating disorder", a condition where one avoids foods in terms of textures, colors, and such while disregarding personal body weight or shape.
Eating disorders, in general, are illnesses which affect people's food intake are accompanied by emotions and body image issues. These disorders typically affect people, mostly women, in the 12-35 age group. The three main types of disorders are anorexia (a refusal to eat; read our earlier article here), bulimia (eating excessively and throwing up after), and binge (or uncontrolled) eating. Fortunately, these conditions are treatable and people can return to a healthy diet and attitudes towards food.
Though not everyone has such eating disorders, the teen’s story shows how important maintaining a balanced diet is to our health and body.
Importance Of A Balanced Diet
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a balanced diet can help strengthen your immune system, encourage healthy development, and prevent obesity.
Eating healthy food is also a way to explore new methods of cooking and new foods from different cultures. For instance, instead of just eating chicken nuggets, try Chinese sweet and sour chicken. And instead of just eating chips, try crispy nori (Japanese seaweed) sheets.
A balanced diet consists of fruits (pears, apples, bananas, etc.), vegetables (spinach, broccoli, kale, etc.), grains (wholemeal bread, non-sugary cereal, pasta, etc.), proteins (beef, chicken, tofu, etc.), dairy (yogurt, milk, cheese, etc.), oils (olive, canola, sunflower, etc.), and healthy beverages (water and other non-sugary drinks). Ideally, fruits and vegetables should take up ½ of your diet, whole grains ¼, and proteins ¼. Oils and dairy should both be taken in moderation.
The exact portions of each section of your diet vary according to age, gender, weight, and the amount of exercise you do. You can create your own balanced diet by using this widget from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA): https://www.choosemyplate.gov/MyPlatePlan.
As the popular phrase goes, “We are what we eat.” And thus, in order to stay healthy and active, we should be responsible for what we choose to eat.