Debunking Fad Diets
It seems like every few months, there is a new diet fad. Let’s talk about the most recent popular fad diets.
A healthier way to do a modified version of the ketogenic diet would be to eat a very reduced amount of carbs, say 50 grams, for short periods of time, periodically. But, in the counting of carbohydrates, be sure not to count non-starchy veggies, such as leafy greens and celery. Helpful products, such as MCT oil or supplemental ketone salts, that can help mimic ketosis and those can be helpful for some. There are also some new fast-mimicking diet programs that supply you with whole, nutritious, plant-based foods, providing everything you need for a 5-day “fast” (you’re still eating, but only about 40% of the calories you would normally eat). This option allows you to still get your veggies, some fiber and protein and the severe calorie reduction, or quasi- fast is only for five days and only a few times a year, with proven benefits.
Leafy, green (non-starchy) vegetables, although they are carbs, should NEVER be counted towards a “max” number of carbs per day or limited in any way. They should be eaten all day, every day, with their carbohydrate content ignored. In fact, these foods should make up more than half your plate, some raw, some cooked, with the starchy carbs making up a very small part of a meal. The more complex the carb, the better – as this means it takes time to convert to sugar. Instead of a quick rise and fall in blood sugar, which causes all sorts of problems, complex carbs like lentils, provide a slow release of sugar for steady energy over the day.
Intermittent fasting is popular these days, but don’t practice intermittent fasting by eating a late dinner and skipping breakfast. While this technically counts as an intermittent fast, it is NOT healthy to eat right before bed, nor to routinely skip breakfast. The healthier option would be to eat an early dinner and not eat again until the next morning. The goal is to eat all of your food in an 8 to 10-hour window during daylight hours and have no snacks, just water, the rest of the time. This lowers insulin and burns fat.
Perhaps the most dangerous fad diet is water or juice fasting. These diets are touted as quick ways to detox, but what actually occurs is just the opposite. If you do a water or juice cleanse, you’re not eating any protein, nor are you getting the phytonutrients or fiber from vegetables. These nutrients are what allow us to safely transform and eliminate toxins. Nutrition is the antidote to toxicity. You may instinctively know this if you’ve tried one of those water cleanses – any detox program that makes you feel sick is not a good detox program. Headaches and exhaustion means you are pulling out more stored toxins than your detox system can handle, and the overflow is making you feel, well… toxic.
The best diet, overall, is a plant-based diet, whether that be the Mediterranean diet, or traditional Asian or South American diets. Plants speak to our genes and our microbiome and provide nutrients we can’t get anywhere else. Just as importantly, plants give us fiber that we cannot digest, but that the good bacteria in our guts do digest. Those bacteria, in turn, make many vitamins and short-chain fatty acids like butyrate that heal and feed our gut cells, as well as countless other molecules that our bodies need, but cannot produce ourselves. This amazing, co-dependent and synergistic system of our microbiome requires real plant food to work properly.
Every cell in our bodies needs the nutrients that plant foods provide, those phytonutrients provide protection for our cells from those inevitable free radicals that living produces. If you want to support your immune system, balance your hormones, improve your brain and liver function, clear up your skin and support your body’s natural detoxification system, eat more of those colorful veggies.
In 1998, Dr. Tamara Sachs turned her focus to Clinical Nutrition, Toxicology, Integrative and Functional Medicine, and dedicated several thousand hours of accredited advanced medical education to this field.
Dr. Sachs lectures frequently throughout the United States and Canada and is passionate about teaching people how their bodies work and providing tools to make healthy living easier, more convenient and affordable.
15 Bennitt St., New Milford, CT.