According to a new review, the notion that there is one diet that overshadows all others, in terms of weight loss and health benefits, is simply unjustified, and in some cases, downright nonsense. Those are mighty strong words and sort of depressing. After all, consumers spend millions of dollars trying to find the perfect diet. Does such a diet exist?
According to a new review published in the Annual Review of Public Health, many diet claims are unproven. The review, Can We Say What Diet is Best for Health? looks at the available research on trending and popular diets, and finds the science sorely lacking. In fact, consumers tend to be very gullible when it comes to diets which tend to promise a lot and deliver very little, in terms of long term weight loss or health benefits.
Very often these popular diets declare a food demon or ingredient demon, and suggest that weight loss or better health will happen by completely removing the so-called evil element. Those diets can become difficult to follow if you want to be social or travel, and frankly, they can also be really boring after awhile. Then there's another question that begs to be asked: How can so many diets that are so different from each other all claim to bestow incredible health benefits or dramatic weight loss?
According to Dr. David Katz, a well-known authority on nutrition, there are currently no lifelong studies that support one “best” diet. In fact, he strongly believes that Michael Pollan, another noted food expert, got it right when he declared that the optimal diet should involve “eating food, not too much, mostly plants.”
By definition this statement doesn’t tell you to cut out any singular food group or ingredient. It also doesn't suggest magic, or for that matter, suffering. It does promote moderation, selectivity, and portion control. And in fact, you would probably lose weight (and achieve better health) if you consistently selected mostly produce and plant-based proteins, along with a sprinkling of other food group choices, while counting daily calories. And let's be clear, processed foods are not a food group, despite their prevalence in the typical American diet. With gluten-free trending strongly, completely cutting out wheat, Dr. Katz suggests, is a terrible idea, unless you have been given a clinical diagnosis of celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. He points to many cultures with octogenarians, who consume grains daily, including wheat-based whole grains, as part of their regular diets.
People who write diet books want to sell them. The title of the book and premise of the diet is meant to woo you, and to convince you that this is the diet that will change your life. Problem is that in most cases, there’s no clear science behind the diet. What choices can help you to lose weight and improve health?
- Eating whole foods
- Using portion control
- Limiting processed foods
- Drinking water as your #1 beverage
- Moving whenever possible, and engaging in exercise most days of the week
These are simple principles that can work within a particular diet program that you choose. No magic here, just sensible guidelines.
Amy Hendel is a Physician Assistant and Health Coach with over 20 years of experience. Noted author, journalist and lifestyle expert, she brings extensive expertise to her monthly shareposts. Her most recent book, The 4 Habits of Healthy Families is available for purchase online, and you can watch her in action on her shows Food Rescue and What's for Lunch? Sign up for her daily health tweets or catch her daily news report at www.healthgal.com.
Published On: April 22, 2014