Dieting

In nutrition, the diet is the sum of food consumed by a person or other organism. Dietary habits are the habitual decisions an individual or culture makes when choosing what foods to eat. Although humans are omnivores, each culture holds some food preferences and some food taboos. Individual dietary choices may be more or less healthful. Proper nutrition requires the proper ingestion and equally important, the absorption of vitamins, minerals, and food energy in the form of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Dietary habits and choices play a significant role in health and mortality, and can also define cultures and play a role in religion.

Diet and Life Outcome
A three-decade long study published in the British medical journal, The Lancet, found that Guatemalan men who had been well-fed soon after they were born earned almost 50% more in average salary than those who had not. The blind trial was performed by giving a high-nutrition supplement to some infants and a lower-nutrition supplement to others, with only the researchers knowing which infants received which supplements. The infants that received the high-nutrition supplement had higher average salaries as adults.

Diet Choices
Writers such as Michael Pollan and Mark Bittman urge reduced animal consumption in the developed world for improved health and reduced impact on the environment. Many people choose to forgo food from animal sources to varying degrees (vegetarianism, veganism, fruitarianism) for health reasons, or issues surrounding morality, or to reduce their personal impact on the environment. Raw foodism is another contemporary trend. These diets may require tuning or supplementation to meet ordinary nutritional needs.

Economic Influence
In addition to culture, religion, and personal choices, diet is also influenced by economics. Throughout history and in contemporary life, poverty is often associated with the inability to afford meat, or with malnutrition.

Weight Management
A particular diet may be chosen to seek weight gain, weight loss, sports training, cardio-vascular health, avoidance of cancers, food allergies and for other reasons. Changing a subject's dietary intake, or "going on a diet", can change the energy balance and increase or decrease the amount of fat stored by the body. Some foods are specifically recommended, or even altered, for conformity to the requirements of a particular diet. These diets are often recommended in conjunction with exercise.

Proper Nutrition
Food provides nutrients from six broad classes: proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, dietary minerals, and water. Carbohydrates are metabolized to provide energy. Proteins provide amino acids, which are required for cell construction, especially for the construction of muscle cells. Essential fatty acids are required for brain and cell membrane construction. Vitamins and trace minerals help maintain proper electrolyte balance and are required for many metabolic processes. Dietary fiber is another food component which influences health even though it is not actually absorbed into the body.

Any diet that fails to meet minimum nutritional requirements can threaten general health (and physical fitness in particular). If a person is not well enough to be active, weight loss and good quality of life will be unlikely.

The National Academy of Sciences and the World Health Organization publish guidelines for dietary intakes of all known essential nutrients.

Sometimes dieters will ingest excessive amounts of vitamin and mineral supplements. While this is usually harmless, some nutrients are dangerous. Men (and women who don't menstruate) need to be wary of iron poisoning. Retinol (oil-soluble vitamin A) is toxic in large doses. As a general rule, most people can get the nutrition they need from foods. In any event, a multivitamin taken once a day will suffice for the majority of the population.

Weight-loss diets which manipulate the proportion of macronutrients (low-fat, low-carbohydrate, etc.) have not been found to be more effective than diets which maintain a typical mix of foods with smaller portions and perhaps some substitutions (e.g. low-fat milk, or less salad dressing). Extreme diets may, in some cases, lead to malnutrition.

Psychological Effects to Weight Loss
Diets affect the "energy in" component of the energy balance by limiting or altering the distribution of foods. Techniques that affect the appetite can limit energy intake by affecting the desire to overeat.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy has been effective in producing long term weight loss [8]. Judith S. Beck has been one of the most prominent practitioners and writers to bring this method to a popular audience.

Consumption of low-energy, fiber-rich foods, such as non-starchy vegetables, is effective in obtaining satiation (the feeling of "fullness"). Exercise is also useful in controlling appetite as is drinking water and sleeping.

The use of drugs to control appetite is also common. Stimulants are often taken as a means to suppress hunger in people who are dieting. Ephedrine (through facilitating the release of adrenaline and noradrenaline) stimulates the alpha(1)-adrenoreceptor subtype, which is known to act as an anorectic. L-Phenylalanine, an amino acid found in whey protein powders also has the ability to suppress appetite by increasing the hormone cholecystokinin (CCK) which sends a satiety signal to the brain.

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