February 20

Battle of the “Diets”

The most common self-improvement resolution is Weight Loss and Get Healthy.  Yet amazingly, few of us actually become educated enough to make the lifestyle change for more than a few weeks (at best).  That all ends today as this endless search of the most popular fad diet ends.

Some diets tell you to eliminate most fats. Others limit carbohydrates. Some focus on particular groups of foods while eliminating others. And honestly, some are just absurd with how restrictive they are or the methods they are professing will help one “shed pounds overnight”. In looking through recommendations so far this year, one article in U.S. News & World Report tried to evaluate which ones were the “best”.

And the Winner Is…

According to their expert panel of nutritionists, dietary consultants, and doctors specializing in diabetes, heart health and weight loss, the DASH diet was named the best diet overall for the seventh year in a row. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, but the tenets of the diet can benefit health on several different levels. This diet, as well as the #2 ranked Mediterranean diet and many others, focus on eating whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low- or no-fat dairy, lean meats, poultry and fish. They also recommend nuts, seeds and legumes. Limitations were made on fats and sweets, and portion control was another key aspect of maintaining a healthy weight.

The MIND diet came in third, with its benefits being aimed at reducing the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. It too follows many of the elements of the first two diets. After that there was a 4-way log jam at fourth place between:

  • The Flexetarian diet – “casual vegetarian”
  • The Mayo Clinic diet – focused on weight loss
  • The TLC diet – limits meats, dairy, fried foods
  • Weight Watchers – you’ve seen the commercials

Each panelist evaluated 38 diets across nine categories, including the likelihood of sticking to the diet, the odds of losing weight in the short- and long-term, and effectiveness against heart disease and diabetes. Not surprisingly, the DASH diet came in first as it was developed and tested by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Diet vs “Diet”

Most diets work to some degree as they are typically focused on limiting foods that have a negative effect on our health while encouraging the consumption of those that are beneficial. Inherently, most people can look at broccoli and a cinnamon roll and know which one is a healthier choice. That’s an easy decision when made by itself, but the real key is the sum of all the choices you make day after day.

The word diet can have two meanings. Most people relate it to a “plan or program” that they’re going to follow for a short time to help them achieve a goal, such as weight loss or to lower cholesterol or blood sugar. But typically, once that goal has been met, they go back to their “normal” way of eating and often the changes they had achieved soon vanish.

The word diet really just means ALL the foods you eat, day after day after day. And that should be the focus on what you improve versus a short term “fix-it plan”. The diets mentioned above can all be good starting points as guidelines for what will improve a diet that hasn’t exactly been spot-on prior.

But the ultimate goal should be learning about the healthy foods that you can (AND SHOULD) eat every day.  This is about incorporating these foods into continuing lifestyle. This will keep you off that unhealthy “diet rollercoaster” of losing weight one month and gaining weight the next three months.

Just as was noted in the article, there is no one best diet that will be ideal for everybody. Certain health conditions may necessitate dietary restrictions or additions that go outside some diet plan guidelines

For example, diabetics should not be eating the same amount of servings of grains (or sometimes any!) as what is recommended in some plans. Thyroid patients may need to limit some foods that are generally considered healthy if they interfere with thyroid hormone function. Hypoglycemics may actually need to increase their (healthy) fat consumption. And there may need to be exclusions of trigger foods if one is dealing with gastrointestinal issues like bloating, gas, reflux, constipation or diarrhea.

Every person’s body is a unique creation and reacts differently to food.  Even healthy foods may be causing inflammation at the cellular level, and all you know is that “you just don’t feel right”.

There is only one way to unlock the diet that your body seeks and that is through intensive lab testing and functional blood chemistry analysis.  Through this analysis, practitioners at the Institute for Functional Health are actually able to decode the bio-markers in your blood.

This isn’t science fiction.  This is science fact.  Functional health has come a long way in a short period of time.  More patients digging into their blood chemistry is providing all of us with the scientific data needed to correspond body system reactions to certain foods and supplements.

If you are tired of the “diet rollercoaster” or if you eat healthy but still can’t seem to look and feel like your young self . . . we invite you to schedule a Discovery Day at the Institute for Functional Health.  Our doctors will lead you through an extensive interview and we will draw labs so that we can waste no time in getting to the root of the problem (and solution).

We look forward to seeing you in our clinic soon.


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