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Nutrition is the selection of foods and preparation of foods, and their ingestion to be assimilated by the body. By practicing a healthy diet, many of the known health issues can be avoided.[1] The diet of an organism is what it eats, which is largely determined by the availability and palatability of foods.

Dietitians are health professionals who specialize in human nutrition, meal planning, economics, and preparation. They are trained to provide safe, evidence-based dietary advice and management to individuals (in health and disease), as well as to institutions. Clinical nutritionists are health professionals who focus more specifically on the role of nutrition in chronic disease, including possible prevention or remediation by addressing nutritional deficiencies before resorting to drugs. Government regulation of the use of this professional title is less universal than for "dietician."

A poor diet may have an injurious impact on health, causing deficiency diseases such as scurvy[2] and kwashiorkor;[3] health-threatening conditions like obesity[4][5] and metabolic syndrome;[6] and such common chronic systemic diseases as cardiovascular disease,[7][8]diabetes,[9][10] and osteoporosis.[11][12][13]

The first recorded dietary advice, carved into a Babylonian stone tablet in about 2500 BC, cautioned those with pain inside to avoid eating onions for three days. Scurvy, later found to be a vitamin C deficiency, was first described in 1500 BC in the Ebers Papyrus.[14]

According to Walter Gratzer, the study of nutrition probably began during the 6th century BC. In China, the concept of Qi developed, a spirit or "wind" similar to what Western Europeans later called pneuma.[15] Food was classified into "hot" (for example, meats, blood, ginger, and hot spices) and "cold" (green vegetables) in China, India, Malaya, and Persia.[16]Humours developed perhaps first in China alongside qi.[15]Ho the Physician concluded that diseases are caused by deficiencies of elements (Wu Xing: fire, water, earth, wood, and metal), and he classified diseases as well as prescribed diets.[16] About the same time in Italy, Alcmaeon of Croton (a Greek) wrote of the importance of equilibrium between what goes in and what goes out, and warned that imbalance would result disease marked by obesity or emaciation.[17]

Around 475 BC, Anaxagoras stated that food is absorbed by the human body and, therefore, contains "homeomerics" (generative components), suggesting the existence of nutrients.[18] Around 400 BC, Hippocrates, who recognized and was concerned with obesity, which may have been common in southern Europe at the time,[17] said, "Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food."[19] The works that are still attributed to him, Corpus Hippocraticum, called for moderation and emphasized exercise.[17]

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