A healthy diet is a diet that helps to maintain or improve overall health. A healthy diet provides the body with essential nutrition: fluid, macronutrients, micronutrients, and adequate calories.
A healthy diet may contain fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and includes little to no processed food and sweetened beverages. The requirements for a healthy diet can be met from a variety of plant-based and animal-based foods, although a non-animal source of vitamin B12 is needed for those following a vegan diet. Various nutrition guides are published by medical and governmental institutions to educate individuals on what they should be eating to be healthy. Nutrition facts labels are also mandatory in some countries to allow consumers to choose between foods based on the components relevant to health.
Incorporating more vegetables into meals
Fruits and vegetables have been shown to increase satiety and decrease hunger. These foods have a low energy density, which is mainly due to the high water content and partly due to the fiber content. The reduction of energy density has been shown to enhance satiety. The water adds weight, without adding calories and the fiber slows gastric emptying. Both of these factors contribute to the satiating effect of vegetables and fruits. Studies have also shown that fiber decreases hunger and also decreases total energy intake. Using apple cider vinegar with salads is also considered to help reduce fat.
Increasing fiber intake
Dietary fiber has been suggested to aid weight management by inducing satiety, decreasing absorption of macronutrients and promoting secretion of gut hormones. Dietary fiber consists of non-digestible carbohydrates and lignin, which are a structural component in plants. Fiber recommendations range from 10 – 13 grams/1000 calories, with slightly higher recommendations for men.
Due to the high volume or water content of fiber-rich foods, fiber displaces available calories and nutrients from the diet. Consumption of viscous fibers delays gastric emptying, which may cause an extended feeling of fullness. Satiety is also induced by increasing chewing, which limits food intake by promoting the secretion of saliva and gastric juice, resulting in an expansion of the stomach. In addition, hormone secretion is affected during fiber ingestion. Insulin response is reduced and cholecystokinin (CCK) in the small intestine is increased. Insulin regulates blood glucose levels while CCK adjusts gastric emptying, pancreatic secretion and gall bladder contraction. There is direct correlation between CCK and satiety after foods of different fiber contents are consumed. Fiber may have the added benefit of helping consumers decrease food intake throughout the day. However, results of trials examining this possibility have been conflicting. In general, large intakes of dietary fiber at breakfast are associated with less food intake at a lunch.