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.
There are many fad diets that create confusion about what is healthy and create unnecessary alarm about what might be unhealthy; these diets are aggressively marketed.
For people who are healthy, a healthy diet is not complicated, and contains mostly fruits and vegetables 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.
A healthy lifestyle includes getting exercise every day along with eating a healthy diet. A healthy lifestyle may lower disease risks, such as obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and cancer.
There are specialized healthy diets, called medical nutrition therapy, for people with various diseases or conditions. There are also prescientific ideas about such specialized diets, as in dietary therapy in traditional Chinese medicine.
Data from United Nations agencies such as the World Health Organization indicate at least 1.1 billion people get too few calories to ward off hunger and another 1.1 billion or more take in too many calories. The rest of humanity gets enough calories and enough exercise but lacks enough vitamins and minerals. People in this middle group are in the best place, but many of them are still far from optimal health.
Of 2.1 million Americans who died in 1987, a poor diet was associated with the cause of death in two-thirds of the cases. Diet is implicated in perhaps a third of cancers, particularly of the digestive organs.
Conventional dietary advice takes no account of individual differences. If you have good genes you can eat almost anything in moderation. The most risk is from diseases which your family have suffered from and these can be traced and specifically managed by "genetic nutrition".