In nutrition, the diet is usually the sum total of all food ingested by an organism or individual within a day. Although diet has many uses, most particularly in maintaining health, this topic is usually addressed by nutritionists, dietitians and others with a wide range of training. This article discusses some of the main purposes of diet.
The first aim of the diet is to control weight gain. As a general rule, a dietitian suggests that a human diet should include a balance of healthy fats and carbohydrates and an equal proportion of protein and vegetable oil. The idea behind eating vegetables is that they contain a lot of nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, fibre and water that are not available in highly processed or refined foods. The body needs all of these nutrients, but eating too few leaves the body lacking in essential nutrients, which leads to diseases and makes weight lose much more difficult.
Diet can also be used to control the amount of calories that an individual eats each day. This helps to maintain the individual’s body weight as well as to prevent gaining weight while dieting. Consistent under-eating leads to dietary shortages and inhibits the body’s ability to absorb nutrients and process calories. The second objective of dietary guidelines is to reduce dietary intake of calories to maintain a balanced diet.
Diet can also be used to improve health. Studies have shown that people who consume a diet that consists mainly of plant foods and other nutrient-rich foods are more likely to live longer and suffer from less serious diseases than those who eat primarily animal-derived foods and animal proteins. A good example of this is how people living in the Pacific island nations avoid much of the high-calorie, fatty red meat that is eaten regularly in the United States. Even people in the United Kingdom skip some of their red meat in favor of chicken and fish. The meat is very high in fat and is difficult for people on a diet to eliminate.
In addition to diet, nutritional supplements can also be used to achieve the goals of a balanced diet includes foods with specific nutrients. The B vitamins are particularly important to pregnant women and young children. Vitamin E and folic acid are essential to healthy eyesight and the immune system. Calcium is necessary for strong bones and teeth. Biotin and riboflavin are important ingredients to the growth of strong nails and to maintain good skin and hair. Potassium is an electrolyte secreted by the kidney and helps control water levels in the body and prevents muscle cramps.
There are many methods to reduce calorie intake without counting calories or obsessing over calories. Many individuals watch what they eat and increase their activity level to burn calories. They choose foods that are low in fat and high in protein and consume large amounts of water. Many individuals choose to substitute one food group for another to get the desired weight loss results. However, the most effective way to lose weight and keep it off is to combine a sensible diet and an active lifestyle.