Diet Trends: The ups and downs


The previous year came with quite a handful of FAD diets, we don’t know what this year would bring us but lets take a review on those diets that got so much attention last year, shall we?

No carbs? No food? Which plans work best for weight loss and overall health

When it comes to diets and diet trends, the choices can be dizzying. With so many ways to lose weight, and so many online influencers and supplement peddlers out there, it’s hard to decipher which methods are healthy and actually work.

1. Ketogenic diet

The ketogenic diet is an extremely low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet. The goal of the diet is to maintain a state of ketosis, which means that by eating fewer carbs, the body’s fat-burning system relies mainly on fat instead of sugar for energy.

This concept is actually nothing new. There’s a lot of research, going back to the early 1900s, that ketogenic diets help with certain neurologic conditions like epilepsy in children. But it’s relatively a new strategy for weight loss.


If your weight loss goals are more immediate, a ketogenic diet may be able to help you achieve those results. It’s been shown to be very effective for short-term weight loss — more so even than low-fat diets.
Additional benefits may include preventing certain types of chronic disease. There’s been some suggestion that there may be benefits as far as other brain disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis and even brain cancer. No definitive studies to prove this yet though.


Some health experts believe eating a large amount of fat and protein from animal sources can increase your risk of heart disease and certain cancers.
On the ketogenic diet, you can, for instance, eat all the bacon, red meat and sausages you want; that obviously goes against what we’ve always known to be healthy, we have to be careful about the effect of this diet on people with liver, kidney and heart disease.
The diet is also really strict. It’s an extreme diet, cutting out almost all carbohydrates, which may in turn risk the gut microbiota. That means giving up or limiting conventionally healthy foods like fruit, whole grains and some vegetables which help keep the gut healthy.
Very low-carbohydrate diets may also be associated with more side effects than a low-fat diet, including headaches, fatigue and bad breath.

2. Whole30 diet
The Whole30 diet is a commercial diet marketed as a  30-day nutritional reset.; so they claim.
During those 30 days, you are to avoid sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes and dairy. The diet does permit meat, seafood, eggs, veggies, fruit, and natural fats like vegetable oils, coconut oil and tree nuts.


What’s nice is that the Whole30 has a built-in support system on social media. That can be helpful for people who need to keep themselves accountable. Also, there’s no counting or restricting calories.


The company behind the Whole30 diet claims that it can improve or “cure” many medical problems, such as asthma, depression and Lyme disease, but the claims are unfounded; there’s no independent research to verify them.

3. Low-FODMAP diet

Some people are sensitive to certain carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed in the intestines and can cause bloating. These carbs are known as fermentable oligo, di, monosaccharides and polyols — or FODMAPs — and are found in certain grains, vegetables, fruits and dairy products.

A low-FODMAP diet is often recommended for people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a common disorder that causes symptoms like cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and diarrhea and/or constipation.


Studies demonstrate a definite improvement in IBS symptoms in people who use the low-FODMAP.
Many patients with IBS who have done really well on this diet and even go into remission has been recorded.


The low-FODMAP diet is not a weight loss diet. It’s really just for people with IBS.So the studies haven’t shown any benefit for people who don’t have IBS.
It’s also not very easy to follow because the list of low-FODMAP foods is not intuitive. For example, broccoli is a low-FODMAP food, and cauliflower is a high-FODMAP food. So you have to have the list of foods with you at all times.

4. Intermittent fasting diet (time-restrictive eating)
Intermittent fasting is a term for an eating pattern that cycles between periods of eating very little or nothing, and eating regular meals.

Some people intermittently fast for 16 hours a day and then eat all their food in an eight-hour time span; others fast for 24 hours at a time, maybe twice a week. This plan isn’t specific about which foods to eat, but rather when you should eat them.


The intermittent fasting diet works well for people with busy schedules because it doesn’t really require planning.
It is quite easy to adhere to if you are very diligent; because it doesn’t restrict and food groups at all.


In a 2018 U.S. News & World Report article where 40 diets were ranked, intermittent fasting was one of the lowest on the list.
The criticism is mostly based on the fact that there’s no guide on what to eat during the nonfasting days. People could end up eating really unhealthily on those days; I had to speak to someone once, and he said he uses 2 sharwama and a bottle of coke to break his fast without putting into consideration the items in the shawarma and their calories.

This diet is also not recommended for people with diabetes because fasting could lead to low blood sugar that may require medication adjustment. People who have a history of eating disorders should also steer clear of this diet, and long-term compliance can be an issue as well.
Fad diets and going to extremes by cutting out major food groups — like carbs — simply aren’t sustainable strategies.

5. The Mediterranean diet

A Mediterranean diet emphasizes eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, olive oil and very little red meat.


This diet was tied for No. 1 — along with the DASH diet below — for the best overall diet in 2018 by U.S. News & World Report in large part due to its many health benefits. Studies have shown reductions in fatal heart attacks, strokes, cancers, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s for people who follow a Mediterranean diet.


There are not any known health drawbacks. It should be noted with caution that some of the studies are short-term, and the exact reason for the health benefits is not clear.

6. The DASH diet

The DASH diet is designed to lower high blood pressure. The acronym in the name stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. It’s a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes and low-fat dairy products, and low in snacks, sweets, meats, and saturated and total fat.

DASH also stresses limiting salt intake. Definitely, an intake of not more than 2,300 mg a day of salt, but ultimately you should strive to stay under 1,500 mg daily.


Tied for No. 1 alongside the Mediterranean diet in U.S. News & World Report, a low-sodium DASH diet has been proven to decrease blood pressure. It also reportedly decreases LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, and possibly lowers the risk of stroke and heart disease.


Although the DASH diet was not developed specifically as a weight-loss diet, it may cause some weight loss (which could also be seen as a benefit). And some people might find that limiting salt makes food taste bland.
The good news is that there are plenty of other healthy options for flavoring, like herbs, spices and citrus juices.

7. The MIND diet

The MIND diet, which stands for the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, developed at Rush University Medical Center, combines foods from the Mediterranean and DASH diets. It focuses on 10 food groups that support brain health, including leafy greens, berries, poultry, beans and nuts.


The diet has been shown to benefit brain health and protect against dementia, according to a few studies.
In fact, the MIND diet can help lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by as much as 53 percent in people who adhere to the diet rigorously, and by about 35 percent in those who follow it moderately well.

It may also help substantially slow cognitive decline in stroke survivors, according to preliminary research presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2018.
Those are big reasons why MIND has been ranked No. 5 in U.S. News & World Report’s list of best diets for three consecutive years.

There aren’t any health risks with MIND, but like the Mediterranean diet, the food needed to follow the diet can be costly.
To diet or not to diet

Fad diets and going to extremes by cutting out major food groups — like carbs — simply aren’t sustainable strategies.
For long-term weight maintenance and overall health, you should adhere to the following sensible approaches to a healthy diet:
• Choose whole foods, such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
• Eat fewer processed or packaged foods, like hot dogs, chips or artificial sweeteners.
• Spend more time in the produce section of the grocery store rather than the packaged food aisles.
• Get more fiber, since the conventional diet is generally sorely lacking in fiber.
• Avoid foods with unrecognizable and unpronounceable words on the list of ingredients.
Diets are not one-size-fits-all, so what works for one person may not work for another. It’s best to figure out your individual weight loss goals and nutrition priorities by talking with your  registered dietitian.
And focus on making other lifestyle changes for yourself and your family, including getting plenty of sleep, exercising regularly and managing stress. All of those things will help not only with maintaining a healthy weight, but with your overall health and well-being with physical activity.

Really, the questions we should ask before embarking on any of these diets is if they are sustainable over a long period of time.


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