How Popular Diets Can Affect Your Health

  • 3 mins read
  • Nutrition
  • Written by: Jillian Lai Mei Siew
How popular diets affects health

If you are asked, what is your opinion about diet and diet plans, what’d it be? Maybe it’s for those who want to lose weight or build muscle. Not all of us fall in that league. We’ll eat whatever our stomachs and tastebuds crave. Allow me to bust a myth for you – Diet is for everyone. Everyone must maintain a balanced diet for better health. A healthy diet protects us against malnutrition, and non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer. The right diets can even improve our digestion and overall health. So let’s dive into some diets that have gained a lot of attention over the past few years.

Low-carb, whole food diet

This diet restricts your carbohydrate intake including foods like sugary foods, pasta, and bread. This diet is full of protein, healthy fats, fruits, and green vegetables. This diet is an excellent choice for those who want to move their weight meter anti-clockwise. However, in the long term, a low-carb diet may lead to gastrointestinal disturbances such as constipation.

Foods to have – Meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, high-fat dairy, fats, healthy oils, and maybe even some tubers and non-gluten grains.

Foods to avoid – Sugar, HFCS, wheat, seed oils, trans fats, “diet” and low-fat products, and highly processed foods

Mediterranean diet

This diet is an excellent choice for all those people who want to keep their hearts in the right place. It is also good for digestive health as it is beneficial for the gut microbiome.

It mainly emphasizes foods that were commonly available around the Mediterranean region like Italy, and Greece during 1960.

Foods to have – This is a little controversial as it may change based on country or personal experience. However, if summarised –

(Plenty) Vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, potatoes, whole grains, bread, herbs, spices, fish, seafood and extra virgin olive oil, (in moderation) poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt, (rarely) red meat

Foods to avoid – Sugar-sweetened beverages, added sugary food, processed meat, refined grains, refined oils, and other highly processed foods

Paleo diet

Ever wondered what foods our ancestors used to have. It was hardly seen that any of our ancestors are suffering from obesity, diabetes, or heart disease. Of course, their lifestyle plays a big role in it. But it’s their diet that plays the main role. What was that diet? Scientists did the job for you –

Foods to have – Meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, healthy fats, and oils like extra virgin olive oil.

Foods to avoid – Any type of processed foods, sugar, soft sugary drinks, grains, most dairy products, legumes, artificial sweeteners, vegetable oils like sunflower oil and cottonseed oil, margarine, trans fats, etc.

A Paleo diet has one major disadvantage- it can be detrimental to your gut microbiome as it is low in fibers or resistant to starch. Hence, one must think carefully about following this diet.

Vegan diet

Well, it’s now one of the most preferred diets worldwide. It’s needless to mention that, if maintained properly, a vegan diet can have a positive impact on your health. It can lower the risk of diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases help maintain a healthy body weight and

Foods to have : Whole grains, fruits, carbohydrates, healthy fats, vegetable protein foods like lentils, beans, peas

Foods to avoid : all animal products, including meat, eggs, and dairy items, including milk.

Another variation of the Vegan Diet is the Plant-based diet which comprises mainly whole foods derived from plant sources.

Foods to avoid: animal products, refined foods, like added sugars, white flour, and processed oils.

Foods to have: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, seeds, and nuts

Gluten-free diet

A gluten-free diet mainly excludes all the foods containing the protein gluten, such as wheat, rye, and barley. If you are gluten-intolerant or suffer from celiac disease – this diet is for you

Foods to have – Meats, fish, egg, dairy, fruits, and vegetables, gluten-free grains, starches and flours, nuts, seeds, vegetable oil, butter, herbs and spices, beverages

Foods to avoid – Wheat-based foods (wheat bran, wheat flour, spelled, durum, Kamut, semolina, bread, pasta, cereals, sauces), barley, rye, triticale, malt, brewer’s yeast

To summarise, your diet should fit your lifestyle and your digestive system. A proper curated diet plan will improve your digestion, cardiac health, and overall immunity.

References

1. Healthy diet. Available from: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/healthy-diet Accessed on: 04 Aug 2021

2. Healthy Eating Plate. Available from: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-eating-plate/ Accessed on: 04 Aug 2021

3. Katz DL, Meller S. Can we say what diet is best for health?. Annual review of public health. 2014 Mar 18;35:83-103.

4. Low-carb diet: Can it help you lose weight? Available at https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/low-carb-diet/art-20045831 Accessed on 4 Aug 2021

5 Diets That Are Supported by Science. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/meal-plans

6. Rasane P, Jha A, Sabikhi L, Kumar A, Unnikrishnan VS. Nutritional advantages of oats and opportunities for its processing as value-added foods-a review. Journal of food science and technology. 2015 Feb;52(2):662-75.

7. Oats. Available from: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/oats/, Accessed on Aug 4, 2021

8. Gastrointestinal benefits of Mediterranean diet Available at https://www.premiermedicalhv.com/news/gastrointestinal-benefits-of-the-mediterranean-diet Accessed on 4 2021

9. Fantastic Health Benefits of Eating Vegan Available at https://www.peta.org.uk/living/vegan-health-benefits/ Accessed on 4 Aug 2021

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