This is a question that has been debated for a long time. The word diet traditionally means the food that we consume. Over time, it evolved to restricting and controlling the type and amount of food consumed to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle.
Regardless of the definition, the question still stands. Is there a perfect diet? The simple answer would be that no one diet would fit everyone on this planet.
Everyone has different dietary needs depending on age, gender, lifestyle, religious beliefs, health conditions, and access to different types of food.
However, if we look at it holistically, perhaps there is such a thing as a ‘perfect’ diet.
The holistic approach
When we talk about the ‘perfect’ diet, we should approach it as a diet catered to each individual's particular needs. If we take the scientific approach and break it down into analysing what those needs are, it is possible to define the ‘perfect’ diet.
A ‘perfect’ diet is one that is customised for you based on your nutritional needs. It should be a diet that not only keeps you nourished but also helps you thrive and reduces risk factors that contribute to diet-related diseases.
There are several guiding principles to follow regarding the holistic approach to the ‘perfect’ diet.
- Packed with nutrients
Firstly, it should be packed with all major (macronutrients) and micronutrients. When we think about nutrients or nutritious food, we tend to focus on certain types of food. For example, we associate protein with meat. However, protein can also be obtained from non-meat sources like certain vegetables, soy products, nuts, legumes, and beans.
We need to ensure that we are getting a sufficient amount of nutrients from a variety of food.
- A well-balanced, healthy diet
A well-balanced diet consists of different types of food by following the distribution of macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, proteins) that satisfy our daily energy requirements.
Macronutrients Recommended Amount (%) Carbohydrates 50-65 Fats 25-30 Proteins 10-20
The Malaysian Dietary Guidelines (MDG) also recommends two daily servings of fruits and three daily servings of vegetables to fulfil the needs for essential vitamins and minerals intake.
A healthy diet should also include limiting the intake of processed food products and stay away from trans fats, hidden sugar, and excessive sodium.
Fresh produces such as fruits and vegetables contain more nutrients. However, nutrient loss happens when stored past their freshness threshold. Therefore, it is best to plan our grocery shopping and food storage to ensure we are always getting the most nutrients from fresh produces.
- Keep your diet affordable
We can eat high-quality food without having to blow our budget. When we plan our grocery shopping to include food with better quality, this will reduce the amount of money needed in the future to treat chronic illnesses.
- Stay hydrated
Up to 60% of the human body is made up of water. Therefore, water is also an important element in the ‘perfect’ diet.
We should drink 6 to 8 glasses of plain water daily according to the Malaysian Dietary Guidelines 2011.
Sufficient hydration helps to remove waste from our body, maintains normal body temperature, protects internal body tissues, and maintains the lubrication and cushioning of joints.
Find out more about your dietary needs at Gleneagles Hospital
There is no one-size-fits-all diet plan. What works for you may not work for someone else depending on your metabolism, activity rate, age, and other factors.
Contact the team of dietitians at your nearest Gleneagles Hospital if you have questions about your dietary needs and to get professional nutrition and dietary advice in your journey towards better health.
If you would like to make an appointment for health screening, please contact the health screening centre at the Gleneagles Hospital nearest to you.