Health & Diet
A HEALTHY DIET IN ONE THAT HELPS MAINTAIN OR IMPROVE OVERALL HEALTH.
A healthy diet 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. A healthy diet supports energy needs and provides for human nutrition without exposure to toxicity or excessive weight gain from consuming excessive amounts. Where lack of calories is not an issue, a properly balanced diet (in addition to exercise) is also thought to be important for lowering health risks, such as obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and cancer.
Various nutrition guides are published by medical and governmental institutions to educate the public on what they should be eating to promote health. Nutrition facts labels are also mandatory in some countries to allow consumers to choose between foods based on the components relevant to health.
The World Health Organization (WHO) makes the following 5 recommendations with respect to both populations and individuals:
# Eat roughly the same amount of calories that your body is using. A healthy weight is a balance between energy consumed and energy that is 'burnt off'.
# Limit intake of fats, and prefer less unhealthy unsaturated fats to saturated fats and trans fats.
# Increase consumption of plant foods, particularly fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and nuts.
# Limit the intake of sugar.
# Limit salt / Sodium consumption from all sources and ensure that salt is iodized.
Other recommendations include:
Essential micronutrients such as vitamins and certain minerals.
Avoiding directly poisonous (e.g. heavy metals) and carcinogenic (e.g. benzene) substances.
Avoiding foods contaminated by human pathogens (e.g. E. coli, worm eggs).
FOR SPECIFIC CONDITION
In addition to dietary recommendations for the general population, there are many specific diets that have primarily been developed to promote better health in specific population groups, such as people with high blood pressure (as in low sodium diets or the more specific DASH diet), or people who are overweight or obese (in weight control diets). However, some of them may have more or less evidence for beneficial effects in normal people as well.
Further information: Dieting
Weight control diets aim to maintain a controlled weight. In most cases dieting is used in combination with physical exercise to lose weight in those who are overweight or obese.
Diets to promote weight loss are divided into four categories: low-fat, low-carbohydrate, low-calorie, and very low calorie. A meta-analysis of six randomized controlled trials found no difference between the main diet types (low calorie, low carbohydrate, and low fat), with a 2–4 kilogram weight loss in all studies. At two years, all calorie-reduced diet types cause equal weight loss irrespective of the macronutrients emphasized.
A low sodium diet is beneficial for people with high blood pressure. A Cochrane review published in 2008 concluded that a long term (more than 4 weeks) low sodium diet in Caucasians has a useful effect to reduce blood pressure, both in people with hypertension and in people with normal blood pressure.
The DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is a diet promoted by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (part of the NIH, a United States government organization) to control hypertension. A major feature of the plan is limiting intake of sodium, and it also generally encourages the consumption of nuts, whole grains, fish, poultry, fruits and vegetables while lowering the consumption of red meats, sweets, and sugar. It is also "rich in Potassium / Kalium, Magnesium, and Calcium, as well as protein". Evidence shows that the Mediterranean diet improves cardiovascular outcomes.
WHO recommends few standards such as an intake of less than 5 grams per person per day so as to prevent one from cardiovascular disease. Unsaturated fatty acids with polyunsaturated vegetable oils, on the other hand plays an essential role in reducing coronary heart disease risk as well as diabetes.
An unhealthy diet is a major risk factor for a number of chronic diseases including: high blood pressure, diabetes, abnormal blood lipids, overweight/obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer.
The WHO estimates that 2.7 million deaths are attributable to a diet low in fruits and vegetables every year. Globally it is estimated to cause about 19% of gastrointestinal cancer, 31% of ischaemic heart disease, and 11% of strokes, thus making it one of the leading preventable causes of death worldwide.