The word “diet” often implies the use of specific intake of nutrition for health or weight-management reasons (with the two often being related).
Diet can also refer to the food and drink a person consumes daily and the mental and physical circumstances connected to eating.
Whereas nutrition involves more than simply eating a “good” diet—it is about nourishment on every level.
In nutrition, diet is the sum of food consumed by a person or other organisms.
Although humans are omnivores, each culture and each person holds some food preferences or some food taboos.
This may be due to personal tastes or ethical reasons. Individual dietary choices may be more or less healthy.
Complete nutrition requires ingestion and absorption of vitamins, minerals, essential amino acids from protein and essential fatty acids from fat-containing food, also food energy in the form of carbohydrate, protein, and fat.
Dietary habits and choices play a significant role in the quality of life, health and longevity.
A healthy diet throughout life promotes normal growth, development and ageing, helps to maintain a healthy body weight, and reduces the risk of chronic disease leading to overall health and well-being.
Nutrients are chemical compounds in food that are used by the body to function properly and maintain health. Nutrients provide nourishment. Proteins, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water are all nutrients.
If people do not have the right balance of nutrients in their diet, their risk of developing certain health conditions increases.
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Following are the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet.
Salmon: Not all fish is created equal
Kale: Of all the healthy leafy greens, kale is the king
Seaweed: The sea has more than just fish
Garlic: Garlic really is an amazing ingredient
Nutrition differs from diet, for it refers to the quality of the food itself. Nutrition is food that our bodies need to consume daily. A balanced diet gives your body the nutrients it needs to function correctly.
WHO guidelines:- A healthy diet helps to protect against malnutrition in all its forms, as well as noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), including such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer.
Unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity are leading global risks to health.
Healthy dietary practices start early in life – breastfeeding fosters healthy growth and improves cognitive development, and may have longer term health benefits such as reducing the risk of becoming overweight or obese and developing NCDs later in life.
Energy intake (calories) should be in balance with energy expenditure. To avoid unhealthy weight gain, total fat should not exceed 30% of total energy intake of saturated fats should be less than 10% of total energy intake, and intake of trans-fats less than 1% of total energy intake, with a shift in fat consumption away from saturated fats and trans-fats to unsaturated fats and towards the goal of eliminating industrially-produced trans-fats.
Limiting intake of free sugars to less than 10% of total energy intake is part of a healthy diet. A further reduction to less than 5% of total energy intake is suggested for additional health benefits.
Keeping salt intake to less than 5 g per day (equivalent to sodium intake of less than 2 g per day) helps to prevent hypertension, and reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke in the adult population.
WHO Member States have agreed to reduce the global population’s intake of salt by 30% by 2025; they have also agreed to halt the rise in diabetes and obesity in Consuming a healthy diet throughout the life-course helps to prevent malnutrition in all its forms as well as a range of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and conditions. However, increased production of processed foods, rapid urbanization and changing lifestyles have led to a shift in dietary patterns. People are now consuming more foods high in energy, fats, free sugars and salt/sodium, and many people do not eat enough fruit, vegetables and other dietary fibre such as whole grains.
The exact make-up of a diversified, balanced and healthy diet will vary depending on individual characteristics (e.g. age, gender, lifestyle and degree of physical activity), cultural context, locally available foods and dietary customs.
However, the basic principles of what constitutes a healthy diet remain the same.
For adults– A healthy diet includes the following:
Fruit, vegetables, legumes (e.g. lentils and beans), nuts and whole grains (e.g. unprocessed maize, millet, oats, wheat and brown rice).
At least 400 g (i.e. five portions) of fruit and vegetables per day, excluding potatoes, sweet potatoes, cassava and other starchy roots.
Less than 10% of total energy intake from free sugars, which is equivalent to 50 g (or about 12 level teaspoons) for a person of healthy body weight consuming about 2000 calories per day, but ideally is less than 5% of total energy intake for additional health benefits. Free sugars are all sugars added to foods or drinks by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, as well as sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates.
Less than 30% of total energy intake from fats. Unsaturated fats (found in fish, avocado and nuts, and in sunflower, soybean, canola and olive oils) are preferable to saturated fats (found in fatty meat, butter, palm and coconut oil, cream, cheese, ghee and lard) and trans-fats of all kinds, including both industrially-produced trans-fats (found in baked and fried foods, and pre-packaged snacks and foods, such as frozen pizza, pies, cookies, biscuits, wafers, and cooking oils and spreads) and ruminant trans-fats (found in meat and dairy foods from ruminant animals, such as cows, sheep, goats and camels).
It is suggested that the intake of saturated fats be reduced to less than 10% of total energy intake and trans-fats to less than 1% of total energy intake. In particular, industrially-produced trans-fats are not part of a healthy diet and should be avoided.
Less than 5 g of salt (equivalent to about one teaspoon) per day (8). Salt should be iodized.
For infants and young children– In the first 2 years of a child’s life, optimal nutrition fosters healthy growth and improves cognitive development. It also reduces the risk of becoming overweight or obese and developing NCDs later in life.
Advice on a healthy diet for infants and children is similar to that for adults, but the following elements are also important:
Infants should be breastfed exclusively during the first 6 months of life.
Infants should be breastfed continuously until 2 years of age and beyond.
From 6 months of age, breast milk should be complemented with a variety of adequate, safe and nutrient-dense foods. Salt and sugars should not be added to complementary foods.
Healthy diet is Fruit and vegetables – Eating at least 400 g, or five portions, of fruit and vegetables per day reduces the risk of NCDs and helps to ensure an adequate daily intake of dietary fibre.
Fruit and vegetable intake can be improved by:
always including vegetables in meals;
eating fresh fruit and raw vegetables as snacks;
eating fresh fruit and vegetables that are in season; and
eating a variety of fruit and vegetables.
Fats– Reducing the amount of total fat intake to less than 30% of total energy intake helps to prevent unhealthy weight gain in the adult population. Also, the risk of developing NCDs is lowered by:
reducing saturated fats to less than 10% of total energy intake;
reducing trans-fats to less than 1% of total energy intake; and
replacing both saturated fats and trans-fats with unsaturated fats (2, 3) – in particular, with polyunsaturated fats.
Fat intake, especially saturated fat and industrially-produced trans-fat intake, can be reduced by:
steaming or boiling instead of frying when cooking;
replacing butter, lard and ghee with oils rich in polyunsaturated fats, such as soybean, canola (rapeseed), corn, safflower and sunflower oils;
eating reduced-fat dairy foods and lean meats, or trimming visible fat from meat; and
limiting the consumption of baked and fried foods, and pre-packaged snacks and foods (e.g. doughnuts, cakes, pies, cookies, biscuits and wafers) that contain industrially-produced trans-fats.
Salt (sodium and potassium)- Most people consume too much sodium through salt (corresponding to consuming an average of 9–12 g of salt per day) and not enough potassium (less than 3.5 g). High sodium intake and insufficient potassium intake contribute to high blood pressure, which in turn increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Reducing salt intake to the recommended level of less than 5 g per day could prevent 1.7 million deaths each year.
People are often unaware of the amount of salt they consume. In many countries, most salt comes from processed foods (e.g. ready meals; processed meats such as bacon, ham and salami; cheese; and salty snacks) or from foods consumed frequently in large amounts (e.g. bread). Salt is also added to foods during cooking (e.g. bouillon, stock cubes, soy sauce and fish sauce) or at the point of consumption (e.g. table salt).
Salt intake can be reduced by:
limiting the amount of salt and high-sodium condiments (e.g. soy sauce, fish sauce and bouillon) when cooking and preparing foods;
not having salt or high-sodium sauces on the table;
limiting the consumption of salty snacks; and
choosing products with lower sodium content.
Some food manufacturers are reformulating recipes to reduce the sodium content of their products, and people should be encouraged to check nutrition labels to see how much sodium is in a product before purchasing or consuming it.
Potassium can mitigate the negative effects of elevated sodium consumption on blood pressure. Intake of potassium can be increased by consuming fresh fruit and vegetables.
Sugars– In both adults and children, the intake of free sugars should be reduced to less than 10% of total energy intake. A reduction to less than 5% of total energy intake would provide additional health benefits.
Consuming free sugars increases the risk of dental caries (tooth decay). Excess calories from foods and drinks high in free sugars also contribute to unhealthy weight gain, which can lead to overweight and obesity. Recent evidence also shows that free sugars influence blood pressure and serum lipids, and suggests that a reduction in free sugars intake reduces risk factors for cardiovascular diseases.
Sugars intake can be reduced by:
Limiting the consumption of foods and drinks containing high amounts of sugars, such as sugary snacks, candies and sugar-sweetened beverages (i.e. all types of beverages containing free sugars – these include carbonated or non‐carbonated soft drinks, fruit or vegetable juices and drinks, liquid and powder concentrates, flavoured water, energy and sports drinks, ready‐to‐drink tea, ready‐to‐drink coffee and flavoured milk drinks); and
Eating fresh fruit and raw vegetables as snacks instead of sugary snacks.
Adults and adolescents as well as in childhood overweight by 2025.
So, consuming nutrients in appropriate proportion and following a balanced dietary routine is the key to a happy & long life.