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Diets


Overview :

Origins

The practice of altering diet for special reasons has existed since antiquity. For example, Judaism has included numerous dietary restrictions for thousands of years. One ancient Jewish sect, the Essenes, is said to have developed a primitive detoxification diet aimed at preparing the bodies, minds, and spirits of its members for the coming of a "messiah" who would deliver them from their Roman captors. Preventive and therapeutic diets became popular during the late twentieth century. Books promoting the latest dietary plan continue to make the bestseller lists, although not all of the information given is considered authoritative.

The idea of a healthful diet is to provide all of the calories and nutrients needed by the body for optimal performance, at the same time ensuring that neither nutritional deficiencies nor excesses occur. Diet plans that claim to accomplish those objectives are so numerous they are virtually uncountable. These diets employ a variety of approaches, including the following:

  • Fixed-menu: Offers little choice to the dieter. Specifies exactly which foods will be consumed. Easy to follow, but may be considered boring to some dieters.
  • Formula: Replaces some or all meals with a nutritionally balanced liquid formula or powder.
  • Exchange-type: Allows the dieter to choose between selected foods from each food group.
  • Flexible: Doesn't concern itself with the overall diet, simply with one aspect such as fat or energy.

Diets also may be classified according to the types of foods they allow. For example, an omnivorous diet consists of both animal and plant foods, whereas a lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet permits no animal flesh, but includes eggs, milk, and dairy products. A vegan diet is a stricter form of vegetarianism in which eggs, cheese, and other milk products are prohibited.

A third way of classifying diets is according to their purpose: religious, weight-loss, detoxification, lifestyle-related, or aimed at prevention or treatment of a specific disease.




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