There is a big war out there about which diet is best. It is a ancient war.
The lines are drawn and I have family members and friends on every side. It is a brutal fight as most people, patients, and physicians, have no idea what is the right answer for them and their family and it is super confusing when the “latest” information or fad hits the press.
The basic groups are the following. There is a spectrum of extremes in each category as well:
1. Plant Based Diets Are Best: Animal fats & Products are bad for you. Dr. Gundry, author of Plant Paradox is sort of in this camp.
2. Fat Based Diet is Best: Fat is good for you. Dr. Fuhrman is in this camp. He is big in beans. Dr. Gundry says to avoid all beans. How different could these 2 MDs be?
3. Low Carb/No Carb diets are best.
And then there are the many “fad diets” out there. Which can be categorized in various ways.
Wilkipedia has an extensive list at end of this post.
The truth for each patient likely lies depends on the patient’s age, circumstances, and genetics.
One diet may not be best for a patient for their entire life. There has to be some wiggle room.
For most patients, the answer will depend on their genetics. If you have a strong family history of high cholesterol, every MD in the US will very likely recommend staying away from foods high in cholesterol. It would be malpractice to not address your diet in this regards.
If you have a strong family history of diabetes and/or you are overweight, most MDs will recommend a low carb diet.
The more I research this topic the more I am convinced that the middle ground is best for most people: a super high green leafy veggie intake, protein in the form of no-mercury fish is best, protein in form of meat is ok, low carb.
However, the exact amount of meat and which kinds of meat you should eat really depends on genetics and your general health. If you have a strong family history of macular degeneration, stay away from red meat.
Additionally the issue of Alzheimers disease will also play into this decision as time goes on. Will eating a higher fat diet be better for these patients? We don’t know yet, but research in the future will help us figure this out as the brain is mostly composed of fat and we know cholesterol-lowering meds worsen cognitive function in normal patients.
So for now, I personally recommend a super high green leafy vegetable diet–meaning daily a big salad, or kale or spinach; wild salmon at least once per week or other high omega 3 foods (walnuts, chia seeds, herring); low carb (choose quinoa over rice & potatoes; choose Almond milk over regular milk); some lean meats (chicken 1/wk); rarely beef (1-3/month or less); a lot of bone broth & soups (daily).
Let me know what you think as I know it is super controversial. For many doctors it is still the case of the blind leading the blind and we have to work to rectify this!
Sandra Lora Cremers, MD, FACS
PLANT BASED DIET
Summary: Eat Plants, Avoid Animal Products
There are extremes to this idea
Nutrition is the Prescription
Eat For Health
End the Merry-Go-Round of Dieting
The End of Dieting
IS ALL OF THE INFORMATION FACTUAL?
FAT BASED DIET
Summary: Eating fats, even butter, fatty meats and cheese are not necessarily bad and should be added to the diet. They say the “low fat” craze has caused a rise in diabetes, heart disease.
The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet
About the Author
One should not eat too many saturated fats in my opinion, especially if you have a family history of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, macular degeneration.
Everyone should eat plenty of green leafy veggies if not on any meds that limit this. Eat salad daily from your own garden (pesticide free). Eat other fresh veggies as often as possible.
Eat a very low carbohydrate diet is good for the majority of people. A no grain (ie. no gluten) diet may be needed if you have diabetes or a risk of diabetes in your diet.
Eat wild fish that is low in mercury like wild salmon
Eat organic foods as much as possible
Drink plenty of water 64oz per day;
Eat 2000-4000mg Omega 3 ideally from wild salmon, walnuts, some flax seed, sesame seeds–naturally;
I recommend going Grain free & Gluten Free for anyone who does not “feel normal” or has headaches, arthritis, dry eye symptoms.
Avoid artificial sugars except for Stevia
Get plenty of exercise: at least 10000 steps per day
Meat: it’s a tricky issue. Kids should have protein in their diet. I still feel lean meats are best. My kids love steak, though, so it is a battle. I’m not convinced that eating fatty meats many times per week (& especially not 3x/day like my MD/doctor friend who owns a cow farm does) is healthy. We eat lean chicken 2x/week.
Quinoa: we love it in moderation. My kids are slightly sick of it but trying to make innovative quinoa dishes. Dr. Gundry from Plant Paradox says do NOT eat quinoa. My kids will be thrilled.
Moderation in one’s diet is likely best for most people but get your cholesterol and labs checked every couple of years starting at the age of 45-50: sooner if you have a family history of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, macular degeneration.
- Fruitarian diet: A diet which predominantly consists of raw fruit.
- Lacto vegetarianism: A vegetarian diet that includes certain types of dairy, but excludes eggs and foods which contain animal rennet. A common diet among followers of several religions, including Hinduism and Jainism, based on the principle of Ahimsa (non-harming).
- Lacto-ovo vegetarianism: A vegetarian diet that includes eggs and dairy.
- Vegan diet: In addition to the requirements of a vegetarian diet, vegans do not eat food produced by animals, such as eggs, dairy products, or honey.
- Flexitarian diet: A predominantly vegetarian diet, in which meat is occasionally consumed.
- Kangatarian: A diet originating from Australia. In addition to foods permissible in a vegetarian diet, kangaroo meat is also consumed.
- Pescetarian diet: A diet which includes fish but not meat.
- Plant-based diet: A broad term to describe diets in which animal products do not form a large proportion of the diet. Under some definitions a plant-based diet is fully vegetarian; under others it is possible to follow a plant-based diet whilst occasionally consuming meat.
Weight control diets
- Intermittent fasting: Cycling between non-fasting and fasting as a method of calorie restriction.
- Body for Life: A calorie-control diet, promoted as part of the 12-week Body for Life program.
- Cookie diet: A calorie control diet in which low-fat cookies are eaten to quell hunger, often in place of a meal.
- The Hacker’s Diet: A calorie-control diet from The Hacker’s Diet by John Walker. The book suggests that the key to reaching and maintaining the desired weight is understanding and carefully monitoring calories consumed and used.
- Nutrisystems Diet: The dietary element of the weight-loss plan from Nutrisystem, Inc. Nutrisystem distributes low-calorie meals, with specific ratios of fats, proteins and carbohydrates.
- Weight Watchers diet: Foods are assigned points values; dieters can eat any food with a points value provided they stay within their daily points limit.
Very low calorie diets
- Breatharian diet: A diet in which no food is consumed, based on the belief that food is not necessary for human subsistence.
- KE Diet: A diet in which an individual feeds through a feeding tube and does not eat anything.
- Atkins diet: A low-carbohydrate diet, popularised by nutritionist Robert Atkins in the late-20th and early-21st centuries. Proponents argue that this approach is a more successful way of losing weight than low-calorie diets; critics argue that a low-carb approach poses increased health risks.
- Dukan Diet: A multi-step diet based on high protein and limited carbohydrate consumption. It starts with two steps intended to facilitate short term weight loss, followed by two steps intended to consolidate these losses and return to a more balanced long-term diet.
- ITG Diet: A 3-step diet based on limiting carbohydrate consumption combined with low fat protein to maintain muscle, with the objective of returning to a healthy balanced diet for long term weight maintenance.
- South Beach Diet
- Stillman diet
- McDougall’s starch diet is a high calorie, high fiber, low fat diet that is based on starches such as potatoes, rice, and beans which excludes all animal foods and added vegetable oils. John A. McDougall draws on historical observation of how many civilizations around the world throughout time have thrived on starch foods.
- Beverly Hills Diet: An extreme diet which has only fruits in the first days, gradually increasing the selection of foods up to the sixth week.
- Cabbage soup diet: A low-calorie diet based on heavy consumption of cabbage soup. Considered a fad diet.
- Grapefruit diet: A fad diet, intended to facilitate weight loss, in which grapefruit is consumed in large quantities at meal times.
- Israeli Army diet: An eight-day diet. Only apples are consumed in the first two days, cheese in the following two days, chicken on days five and six, and salad for the final two days. Despite what the name suggests, the diet is not followed by Israel Defense Forces. It is considered a fad diet.
- Junk food diet: A diet largely made up of food considered to be unhealthy, such as high-fat or processed foods.
- Subway diet: A crash diet in which a person consumes Subway sandwiches in place of higher calorie fast foods. Made famous by former obese student Jared Fogle, who lost 245 pounds after replacing his meals with Subway sandwiches as part of an effort to lose weight.
- Watermelon diet: Liberace and his handlers covered up the entertainer’s AIDS diagnosis by publicly attributing his suffered severe weight loss and health problems to anemia brought on by a strict watermelon-only diet; they later reversed those claims to publicize that Liberace was gravely ill from anemia, emphysema and heart disease.
- Western dietary pattern: A diet consisting of food which is most commonly consumed in developed countries. Examples include meat, white bread, milk and puddings. The name is a reference to the Western world.
- Juice fasting: A form of detox diet, in which nutrition is obtained solely from fruit and vegetable juices. The health implications of such diets are disputed.
- Master Cleanse: A form of juice fasting.
- Buddhist diet: While Buddhism does not have specific dietary rules, some buddhists practice vegetarianism based on a strict interpretation of the first of the Five Precepts.
- Edenic diet: A diet based on what Adam and Eve are believed to have consumed in Garden of Eden. Usually either vegetarian or vegan, and based predominantly on fruit.
- Hindu and Jain diets: Followers of Hinduism and Jainism often follow lacto-vegetarian diets, based on the principle of Ahimsa (non-harming).
- Islamic dietary laws: Muslims follow a diet consisting solely of food that is halal – permissible under Islamic law. The opposite of halal is haraam, food that is Islamically Impermissible. Haraam substances include alcohol, pork, and any meat from an animal which was not killed through the Islamic method of ritual slaughter (Dhabiha).
- I-tal: A set of principles which influences the diet of many members of the Rastafari movement. One principle is that natural foods should be consumed. Some Rastafarians interpret I-tal to advocate vegetarianism or veganism.
- Kosher diet: Food permissible under Kashrut, the set of Jewish dietary laws, is said to be Kosher. Some foods and food combinations are non-Kosher, and failure to prepare food in accordance with Kashrut can make otherwise permissible foods non-Kosher.
- Seventh-day Adventist: Seventh-day Adventists combine the Kosher rules of Judaism with prohibitions against alcohol and caffeinated beverages and an emphasis on whole foods. About half of Adventists are lacto-ovo-vegetarians.
- Word of Wisdom: The name of a section of the Doctrine and Covenants, a book of scripture accepted by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Dietary advice includes (1) wholesome plants “in the season thereof,” (2) eating meat sparingly and only “in times of winter, or of cold, or famine,” and (3) grain as the “staff of life.”
Diets followed for medical reasons
- Best Bet Diet: A diet designed to help prevent or mitigate multiple sclerosis, by avoiding foods with certain types of protein.
- Colon cancer diet: Calcium, milk and garlic are thought to help prevent colon cancer. Red meat and processed meat may increase risk.
- Diabetic diet: An umbrella term for diets recommended to people with diabetes. There is considerable disagreement in the scientific community as to what sort of diet is best for people with diabetes.
- DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension): A recommendation that those with high blood pressure consume large quantities of fruits, vegetables, whole-grains and low fat dairy foods as part of their diet, and avoid sugar sweetened foods, red meat and fats. Promoted by the US Department of Health and Human Services, a United States government organisation.
- Elemental diet: A medical, liquid-only diet, in which liquid nutrients are consumed for ease of ingestion.
- Elimination diet: A method of identifying foods which cause a person adverse effects, by process of elimination.
- Gluten-free diet: A diet which avoids the protein gluten, which is found in barley, rye and wheat. It is a medical treatment for gluten-related disorders, which include coeliac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, gluten ataxia, dermatitis herpetiformis and wheat allergy.
- Healthy kidney diet: This diet is for those impacted with chronic kidney disease, those with only one kidney who have a kidney infection and those who may be suffering from some other kidney failure. This diet is not the dialysis diet, which is something completely different. The healthy kidney diet restricts large amounts of protein which are hard for the kidney to break down but especially limits: potassium and phosphorus-rich foods and beverages. Liquids are often restricted as well—not forbidden, just less of.
- Ketogenic diet: A high-fat, low-carb diet, in which dietary and body fat is converted into energy. It is used as a medical treatment for refractory epilepsy.
- Liquid diet: A diet in which only liquids are consumed. May be administered by clinicians for medical reasons, such as after a gastric bypass or to prevent death through starvation from a hunger strike.
- Specific Carbohydrate Diet: A diet that aims to restrict the intake of complex carbohydrates such as found in grains and complex sugars. It is promoted as a way of reducing the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, coeliac disease and autism.
- Alkaline diet: The avoidance of relatively acidic foods – foods with low pH levels – such as grains, dairy, meat, sugar, alcohol, caffeine and fungi. Proponents believe such a diet may have health benefits; critics consider the arguments to have no scientific basis.
- Blood Type Diet: A diet based on a belief that people’s diets should reflect their blood types.
- Eat-clean diet: Focusses on eating foods without preservatives, and on mixing lean proteins with complex carbohydrates.
- Fit for Life diet: Recommendations include not combining protein and carbohydrates, not drinking water at meal time, and avoiding dairy foods.
- Food combining diet: A nutritional approach where certain food types are deliberately consumed together or separately. For instance, some weight control diets suggest that proteins and carbohydrates should not be consumed in the same meal.
- Gerson therapy: A form of alternative medicine, the diet is low salt, low fat and vegetarian, and also involves taking specific supplements. It was developed by Max Gerson, who claimed the therapy could cure cancer and chronic, degenerative diseases. These claims have not been scientifically proven, and the American Cancer Society claims that elements of the therapy have caused serious illness and death.
- The Graham Diet: A vegetarian diet which promotes whole-wheat flour and discourages the consumption of stimulants such as alcohol and caffeine. Developed by Sylvester Graham in the 19th century.
- Hay diet: A food-combining diet developed by William Howard Hay in the 1920s. Divides foods into separate groups, and suggests that proteins and carbohydrates should not be consumed in the same meal.
- High-protein diet: A diet in which high quantities of protein are consumed with the intention of building muscle. Not to be confused with low-carb diets, where the intention is to lose weight by restricting carbohydrates.
- High residue diet: A diet in which high quantities of dietary fiber are consumed. High-fiber foods include certain fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains.
- The IF Diet: A diet using 3 kinds of Intermittent Fasting.
- Inuit diet: Inuit people traditionally consume food that is fished, hunted or gathered locally; predominantly meat and fish.
- Jenny Craig: A weight-loss program from Jenny Craig, Inc. It includes weight counselling among other elements. The dietary aspect involves the consumption of pre-packaged food produced by the company.
- Locavore diet: a neologism describing the eating of food that is locally produced, and not moved long distances to market.
- Low carbon diet: Consuming food which has been produced, prepared and transported with a minimum of associatedgreenhouse gas emissions. An example of this was explored in the book 100-Mile Diet, in which the authors only consumed food grown within 100 miles of their residence for a year. People who follow this type of diet are sometimes known as locavores.
- Low-fat diet
- Low glycemic index diet
- Low-protein diet
- Low sodium diet
- Low-sulfur diet
- Macrobiotic diet: A diet in which processed food is avoided. Common components include grains, beans and vegetables.
- Mediterranean diet: A diet based on habits of some southern European countries. One of the more distinct features is that olive oil is used as the primary source of fat.
- Montignac diet: A weight-loss diet characterised by consuming carbohydrates with a low glycemic index.
- Negative calorie diet: A claim by many weight-loss diets that some foods take more calories to digest than they provide, such as celery. The basis for this claim is disputed.
- Okinawa diet: A low-calorie diet based on the traditional eating habits of people from the Ryukyu Islands.
- Omnivore: An omnivore consumes both plant and animal-based food.
- Organic food diet: A diet consisting only of food which is organic – it has not been produced with modern inputs such as chemical fertilizers, genetic modification, irradiation or food additives.
- Paleolithic diet: Can refer either to the eating habits of humans during the Paleolithic era, or of modern dietary plans based on these habits.
- Prison loaf: A meal replacement served in some United States prisons to inmates who are not trusted to use cutlery. Its composition varies between institutions and states, but as a replacement for standard food, it is intended to provide inmates with all their dietary needs.
- Pritikin Program for Diet and Exercise: A diet which focusses on the consumption of unprocessed food.
- Raw foodism: A diet which centres on the consumption of uncooked and unprocessed food. Often associated with a vegetarian diet,although some raw food dieters do consume raw meat.
- Scarsdale Medical Diet
- Shangri-La Diet
- Slimming World diet
- Slow-carb diet
- Smart For Life
- Sonoma diet
- SparkPeople diet
- Sugar Busters!: Focuses on restricting the consumption of refined carbohydrates, particularly sugars.
- Tongue Patch Diet: Stitching a Marlex patch to the tongue to make eating painful.
- Warrior diet: Focused on timing of meals – Slogan is ‘when you eat, makes what you eat matter’. Intermittent fasting consisting of a fasting/feeding cycle with 1 meal per day, ideally at night.
- Zone diet: A diet in which a person attempts to split calorie intake from carbohydrates, proteins and fats in a 40:30:30 ratio.
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