Paleo. Keto. Carnivore. With each new trend there are recipes, books, Pinterest posts, Instagram influencers. Usually the benefits of each trend is touted and many people jump on board hoping to create better health and ripped abs.
Is every trend healthy? What diet trend should you follow? In this blog I go over some of the more popular diet trends and some of the health risks that are related to them.
The Paleo diet is a hot trend, but it's not a new eating plan. This diet emphasizes foods and beverages that would have been the only means of sustenance for humans in prehistoric and pre-agrarian times -- fruit, vegetables, nuts, and meat. It eliminates processed foods, along with sugar, table salt, caffeine, legumes, and dairy.
The pluses with Paleo is that it eliminates processed foods, sugar and dairy which means it reduces inflammation. The downside is that some versions of Paleo people have too much meat or have processed meats both of which cause inflammation. If someone has a predisposition to heart disease or other chronic illnesses Paleo won't help with their chronic condition. Certain meats, like red meat, aren't great for gut health. A compromised gut means a compromised immune system, not ideal, especially in pandemic times.
The Keto diet is a very low-carb, high-fat diet that shares many similarities with the Atkins and other low-carb diets. It involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. This reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis. This diet in very popular for weight loss however it was originally designed for kids who have epilepsy. While it has a therapeutic use, it's far from an ideal diet for the general population.
The Keto diet could cause low blood pressure, kidney stones, constipation, nutrient deficiencies and an increased risk of heart disease. Strict diets like Keto could also cause social isolation or disordered eating. Keto is not safe for those with any conditions involving their pancreas, liver, thyroid or gallbladder. While in the short term in results in weight loss, in the long term it increases risks for very serious conditions such as heart disease. Plus while many have initial weight loss on Keto, over time most people on Keto hit a plateau in terms of weight loss.
The Carnivore Diet is a restrictive diet that only includes meat, fish, and other animal foods like eggs and certain dairy products. It excludes all other foods, including fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds.
Its proponents also recommend eliminating or limiting dairy intake to foods that are low in lactose — a sugar found in milk and dairy products — such as butter and hard cheeses.
The Carnivore Diet stems from the controversial belief that human ancestral populations ate mostly meat and fish and that high-carb diets are to blame for today’s high rates of chronic disease.
This diet is extremely restrictive and likely unhealthy in the long term. Plus, no research backs its purported benefits. Your gut health benefits from vegetables, beans and whole grains. The microbes in your gut feed off of these foods. Eliminating them entirely from your diet can result in serious issues with your gut health. About 70% of your immune system lives in your gut so compromising your gut health also affects your immune health.
Whole Foods Plant Based (WFPB)
Obesity is an issue of epidemic proportions. In fact, over 69% of US adults are overweight or obese. Fortunately, making dietary and lifestyle changes can facilitate weight loss and have a lasting impact on health.
Many studies have shown that plant-based diets are beneficial for weight loss. The high fiber content of the WFPB diet, along with the exclusion of processed foods, is a winning combination for shedding excess pounds.
A review of 12 studies that included more than 1,100 people found that those assigned to plant-based diets lost significantly more weight — about 4.5 pounds (2kg) over an average of 18 weeks — than those assigned to non-vegetarian diets.
Adopting a healthy plant-based eating pattern may also help keep weight off in the long run. A study in 65 overweight and obese adults found that those assigned to a WFPB diet lost significantly more weight than the control group and were able to sustain that weight loss of 9.25 pounds (4.2kg) over a one-year follow-up period.
Dr. Dean Ornish and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn used a WFPB to reverse advanced stage heart disease in a group of their patients. Along with heart disease there have been other chronic illnesses that have been reversed on a WFPB.
Though many people are looking to lose weight it's best to choose a style of eating that supports long term health. I switched to a WFPB diet a few years ago looking for better health. The bonus to eating WFPB is that it's better for the planet and especially for animals. When I added liquid superfoods to the mix I saw even more health.
Study after study has demonstrated the benefits of being on a WFPB. In fact more and more athletes and high performers are ditching meat and dairy and shifting to a plate full of plants to get their nutrient needs met. If you're looking to get answers or wondering how a WFPB diet can help you contact me.