Diet, just like life itself, is a continuously changing phenomenon, it goes through so many stages and phases that an individual can easily get confused and not be able to identify which stage he or she is in. In simple terms, diet refers to the total quantity of calories consumed by an organism or a person during his or her lifetime. As the number of calories consumed is directly proportional to the body weight of an individual, the food consumption is measured by calories per day. If a person consumes more calories than required by his body, then obviously he would gain weight; conversely, if he or she consumes too less calories than required, then naturally he or she would lose weight.
A diet high in calories is not necessarily bad for a human being, provided it is balanced and contains all necessary nutrients for a healthy living. However, a diet should not necessarily contain only calories, since these should be balanced with vitamins, minerals and fiber. Vitamins are important to maintain a healthy immune system, as well as healthy eyesight, strong bones and muscles. Minerals like calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium and zinc are important for a healthy immune system. Fruits and vegetables are rich in fibers, which can help to control cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels and obesity.
On the other hand, foods that are nutrient dense, i.e., rich in essential nutrients but low in calories are usually considered to diet, since it requires more energy to digest them. Nuts, beans, whole grains and fruits are an example of nutrient dense diet. They contain almost 80% of their daily calorie requirement but do not provide the amount of fat that most people prefer. This is because when nuts, beans and whole grains are processed and added to foods, their calorie content increases significantly. Therefore, instead of reducing fat, you actually increase the amount of fat in your diet.
Legumes and grains such as millet, buckwheat and quinoa, along with dairy produce, such as butter, cheese and yogurt, are also rich in nutrients, but do not contain as many calories as most other types of diet foods. The paleo diet advocates eating whole foods in their natural forms, especially fruits and vegetables. This includes organic fruits and vegetables, which are very beneficial to our health, as they are high in vitamins and minerals, fiber and antioxidants. Whole foods are also preferred over processed or packaged foods, as they are more nutritious, free from saturated fat and cholesterol, and free from artificial preservatives.
Studies show that the calcium in dairy products can lead to osteoporosis, which causes a loss of bone density and leads to weakness and frequent fractures. Therefore, it is highly recommended that pregnant women and adolescents avoid consuming milk or any dairy products during their pregnancy, as this could lead to a loss of bone density. Studies also show that a diet high in calcium can prevent hypertension, another leading cause of death.
So, what about the other types of nutrients that the diet advocates eating? We know that getting enough protein in our daily diets can help maintain muscle mass and build lean muscle tissue, which is good for weight loss. Vegetables and fruits are full of vitamin A, which strengthens our bones. Fruits and vegetables are high in potassium, which helps us control our salt levels and bodily fluids, and makes us less dehydrated. Potassium also helps make us feel full. Finally, studies show that a diet high in magnesium can help reduce the risk of heart disease, hypertension and obesity.