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  • Writer's pictureKatherine Sims

What is the best diet for health?

Diet is established as among the most important influences on health in modern societies. Unhealthy diet figures among the leading causes of premature death and chronic disease. Lifestyle choices at odds with health—inclusive of, but not limited to, poor dietary choices—are linked to a growing chasm between life span, the length of life, and health span, or years of healthy life.

Worldwide, lifestyle-related chronic diseases cause an enormous and growing problem.

But what is a healthy diet?

Many different diet philosophies abound in our current western society, all claiming to be more healthy than other dietary choices. While Paleo, Mediterranean, Keto, vegan/vegetarian, and most other diets all have healthy points, diet is not one-size-fits-all. Different diets suit different people and lifestyles. Trying to stick to an unenjoyable diet that doesn't fit one's lifestyle is simply futile and will eventually fail. The notion that some combination of foods is most important to the prevention and management of diabetes whereas another is most important to cardiovascular disease is very impractical: Given that people with diabetes are at heightened risk of cardiovascular disease, which should they choose? Diets that focus on any one nutrient or type of food or trying to prevent one specific disease are ill advised.

However, a diet of minimally processed foods close to nature, predominantly plants, is strongly linked with good health and disease prevention. Plus, every diet touted as healthy has significant aspects that are minimally processed, natural foods.

Choosing to follow any diet that fits within your preferred lifestyle can be healthy if natural, minimally processed foods are chosen the majority of meals.

DOI: 10.1146/annurev-publhealth-032013-182351

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