Diet (nutrition)

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A diet in the context of nutrition refers to the sum of food consumed by a person or other organism. The term often implies the use of specific intake of nutrition for health or weight-management reasons. Although humans are omnivores, each culture and each person holds some food preferences or some food taboos, which may be due to personal tastes or ethical reasons. Individual dietary choices may be more or less healthy.

Components of a Healthy Diet

A healthy diet is one that helps maintain or improve overall health. It provides the body with essential nutrition: fluid, adequate essential amino acids from protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and adequate calories. The requirements for a healthy diet can be met from a variety of plant-based and animal-based foods.

  • Carbohydrates: Main source of energy. Found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.
  • Proteins: Essential for building and repairing tissues. Sources include meat, fish, dairy, legumes, and nuts.
  • Fats: Needed for brain health and energy. Sources include nuts, seeds, fish, and vegetable oils.
  • Vitamins and Minerals: Vital for metabolism, bone health, and fluid balance. Found in a wide range of fruits, vegetables, dairy, and meat.

Dietary Patterns

Various dietary patterns are promoted for health, including:

  • Mediterranean: Emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, fish, and wine.
  • Plant-based diet: Focuses on foods derived from plants, including vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and fruits, with few or no animal products.
  • Low-carbohydrate diet: Reduces carbohydrate intake in favor of protein and fat.
  • Paleolithic diet: Attempts to emulate the diet of pre-agricultural hunter-gatherers.

Diet and Health

The diet plays a crucial role in health:

  • Weight Management: Balancing calorie intake with energy expended is essential for maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Chronic Disease Prevention: Diets rich in fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins can reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.
  • Bone and Teeth Health: Adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D is crucial for the development and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth.

Nutritional Disorders

Improper or insufficient diet can lead to nutritional disorders, including:

  • Obesity: Resulting from overconsumption of calories.
  • Malnutrition: Caused by a lack of essential nutrients.
  • Eating Disorders: Such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa, involve extreme disturbances in eating behaviors.

See Also


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