Cultural and religious diets
Dietary habits are the habitual
decisions a person or culture makes when choosing what foods to eat.
Although humans are omnivores, many cultures hold some food
preferences and some food taboos. Dietary choices can also define
cultures and play a role in religion. For example, only kosher foods
are permitted by Judaism, and halal/haram foods by Islam, in the
diet of believers. In addition, the dietary choices of different
countries or regions have different characteristics. This is highly
related to a culture's cuisine.
Dietary habits play a significant
role in the health and mortality of all humans. Imbalances between
the consumed fuels and expended energy results in either starvation
or excessive reserves of adipose tissue, known as body fat. Poor
intake of various vitamins and minerals can lead to diseases which
can have far-reaching effects on health. For instance, 30% of the
world's population either has, or is at risk for developing, Iodine
deficiency. It is estimated that at least 3 million children are
blind due to vitamin A deficiency. Vitamin C deficiency results in
scurvy. Calcium, Vitamin D and phosphorus are inter-related; the
consumption of each may affect the absorption of the others.
Kwashiorkor and marasmus are childhood disorders caused by lack of
Moral, ethical, and health
Many individuals limit what foods
they eat for reasons of morality, or other habit. For instance
vegetarians choose to forgo food from animal sources to varying
degrees. Others choose a healthier diet, avoiding sugars or animal
fats and increasing consumption of dietary fiber and antioxidants.
Obesity, a serious problem in the western world, leads to higher
chances of developing heart disease, diabetes, and many other
More recently, dietary habits have
been influenced by the concerns that some people have about possible
impacts on health or the environment from genetically modified food.
Further concerns about the impact of industrial farming on animal
welfare, human health and the environment are also having an effect
on contemporary human dietary habits. This has led to the emergence
of a counterculture with a preference for organic and local food.
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