FOOD, FACTS and FADS

Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health


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What is a Healthy Diet? An Update

The following post is an excellent source for links to the discussion of healthy diets.  It is a brief summary of what nutrition science “knows” at the present time.

CLICK HERE.

For the complete discussion found in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (March, 2017), click HERE. It is a long article; however, it provides a lot of details on the latest recommendations about “healthy” diets and the research behind them. It can be read as a PDF.


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The Search for a “Healthy Diet”

By Sally Feltner, PhD, MS, RDN  March 18, 2017

Does your doctor often say, “Watch your diet” or have you noticed that most diet advice recommends that you eat “a healthy diet.” But honestly, why should we believe anything nutrition scientists have to say at this point? There’s been little consistency in the advice we’ve been given for decades. We have gone from hearing advice, to advice, that contradicts the first advice, and now we’re back in some cases to the original advice again. A lot of that advice has even turned out to be actually harmful. Remember the recommendation in the middle 1990’s to switch to trans-fat laden margarines

When I first began to study nutrition in the 1980’s, we knew little about the causes of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes as well as dementia, bone loss, you name it. I have been through the low fat, the low carb, the high fiber, the whole grain, the low fat dairy eras etc. . as well as just about any fad diet or gimmick you could think of. What have we learned? Not much. We are still searching for the perfect diet, the magic supplement, the best “superfood” to keep us healthy and increase our lifespan.

This is not to say that there have not been any important discoveries. Back in the early days of nutrition research, the discovery of vitamins and minerals saved thousands of lives. We have clearly eliminated the deficiency diseases, at least in developed countries, of scurvy, beriberi, pellagra as well as the prevention of goiter (iodine). More recently, we learned to prevent the devastating effects of neural tube defects with the fortification of folate in grain products.

Recently, the latest rankings of the U.S. News and World Report 2017 Best Diet Rankings were published. The three best diets overall as well as the three best diets for healthy Eating were:

These three diets are important because each one has been shown be associated with positive health benefits. The DASH diet benefits are associated with blood pressure control and thus an decreased heart disease risk. The Mediterranean diet has heart benefits and improved cognitive (Alzheimer’s) health, and the aim of the MIND diet is a combination of the other two diets – the DASH and Mediterranean that zeroes in on foods in each that specifically affect brain health. Both the Mediterranean diet and the MIND diet won honors in easiest to follow, important with any diet attempt. There is no sense to attempt a diet you cannot feasibly follow. It  should not be a “diet”, but a lifestyle.

Nutrition professionals need to be careful about how we support what we say. Instead of “we know,” we have to just admit that “we think.” People often become resentful when we pretend to know more than we really do and tell them what to eat and then have to backtrack on that advice years later.

Fortunately, there are other says to assess diet quality. For now, we also can rely on the observational studies that look at the traditional diets of certain populations and cultures have shown us the many lifestyles factors including diet that confer health and longevity.


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A New Trend in Your Supermarket?

dietitian-nutritionist

This is an excellent idea but just have to speak out here for the Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist (RDN).  RD’s have been conducting supermarket tours for decades and many are employed by supermarkets. Most doctors are not well trained in the science of nutrition while RDs have undergraduate degrees in nutrition and graduate degrees in nutrition or related health fields. They are required to complete an internship and pass a national exam plus participate in continuing education activities.

CLICK HERE.


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The Sensible Approach to Healthy Diets?

farmersmarketsign_tnAre you tired of being told to eat a plant-based diet? Do you find that conversion to a vegan diet impossible?  Did your doctor suggest you follow a healthy diet? Think about trying the approach of becoming a Flexitarian.  It can put you in control of your diet and at the same time start to incorporate a sensible approach to dietary health and still enjoy a moderate amount of meat, poultry, or fish without guilt.

CLICK HERE


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Just the Facts?

Mediterranean-Pyramid

Even though one of the following “facts” is  still strongly debated among nutrition “experts” there appears  to be a plethora of evidence that supports these statements. The one debate that continues is whether saturated fat is considered a “healthy fat” or not. Following a Mediterranean type diet comes very close to supporting these facts.

CLICK HERE.


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The Potato Diet?

skd288907sdcPotatoes have plenty of vitamin C and good amounts of fiber and potassium. However, followers of this fad diet will have some nutritional problems. One medium plain potato has only 170 calories mostly as carbohydrate, but lacks in protein and fats. It contains only 5 grams of protein. In terms of total protein, a follower of this diet would have to eat about 11 potatoes a day, since an adult male needs about 56 grams of protein a day. However, potatoes are not high quality proteins – they are considered incomplete proteins since they lack enough of the nine amino acids needed for protein synthesis.

The type of starch in potatoes is digested more rapidly, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. The rate of digestion combined with the quantity of starch in a potato result in a high glycemic index rating. A baked Russet  potato (150 grams) has an average score of 111. This score is higher than pure glucose, which means the baked potato creates a fast and large spike in blood sugar that can lead to insulin resistance, weight gain and diabetes.

Needless to say, the “Spud Fit” diet is not a good idea.

CLICK HERE.