Let thy Food be thy Medicine
One of the first calls I received on New Year’s Day was a request from a friend seeking assistance in establishing healthy eating goals. With so many diet plans in the marketplace, today makes it very frustrating to choose the right one. I often remind people first and foremost, the purpose of Food, which is to sustain life. We eat because every organ within our body is fueled and supported by the Food we consume. Every diet choice should be made based upon the fact that the body will not remain in a “healthy state” without carbohydrates, protein, fats, minerals, vitamins, and now phytochemicals derived from Food. Achieving Optimum Nutrition is crucial to maintaining our organs free from destructive diseases. Consequently, it is the act of preserving health, which is the ultimate purpose of eating because, without health, there is no quality of life.
Despite the multitude of Diet Plans available, statistics report obesity and over-weight continues to rise at an epidemic rate. Within the last decade, obesity levels in America have doubled to a record number of 39.8% for adults and 17% for teens. What’s even more frightening if there is no active intervention, 50% of Americans will be obese by the end of 2030. Consequently, obesity is a significant contributor to the various metabolic health issues of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, and certain cancers such as pancreatic, liver, breast, colon, and thyroid. Because of the devastating effects obesity has on overall health, a diet plan which promotes both weight loss and good health would be the best choices to consider. Also, the program has to be right for you, not a quick fix, but it has to be one that you will continue throughout your lifetime. Please consider choosing one of the following.
My Guide to the Best Evidence-Based Healthy Diet Patterns for 2020.
- #1 Mediterranean Diet has been ranked for the third consecutive year the best overall diet in the U.S. This diet follows the eating patterns of people living in the Mediterranean. Emphasis is on vegetables, fruits, olive oil, fish, nuts, beans, legumes, and a modest amount of red wine and dairy. Research study shows the Mediterranean diet can be helpful with weight loss as well as decreasing the risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
- #2 Dash Diet. DASH is an acronym for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, designed by the National Institutes of Health as a means of lowering blood pressure without medication. However, studies show the DASH diet also may reduce the risk of stroke, heart disease, and kidney stones. Another study reports the effectiveness of the DASH Diet on weight reduction as well as blood pressure. The diet is very similar to the Mediterranean Diet, except the focus is primarily on restricting sodium to 2,300mg per day. Emphasis is on the consumption of vegetables, fruits, beans, lentils, whole grains, and low in total fats limiting all sources of saturated fat.
- #3 The Flexitarian Diet is a combination of two words-flexibility and the vegetarian. The diet is primarily a plant-based Vegetarian diet with the flexibility of consuming a limited amount of meat. Research shows by eating more plants and fewer meat results in overall health improvements by lowering rates of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, weight loss, and an extension of longevity.
- #4 Anti-Inflammatory Diet: This diet emphasizes the avoidance of refined carbohydrates such as white bread and pastries, soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages, processed meats/red meats, trans-fats, shortening, and lard. Studies are showing a close association of these foods and the activation of inflammation within the body. Inflammation increases the risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression, weight gain, and Alzheimer’s. The diet relies on the benefits of the natural antioxidants and phytochemical-protective compounds found in plants.
There are more than 35 popular diet plans on the market today. However, not all have the support of evidence-based research. It is essential to check with your primary care physician or registered dietitian before starting any new diet plans. Achieving Optimum Nutrition is feasible in 2020. Always keep at the forefront of any nutritional decision you make, “let food be thy medicine.”