If you are reading this, then is very likely that you’ve also read other posts related to healthy diets. Nutrition is a complex topic that has gained a lot of attention over the years, mostly for good reasons. But when something becomes popular everybody wants to let their opinion be known and some things really should be left to the experts.
If you make a quick search about “healthy diets” and dedicate only 30 minutes to reading the top results, you’ll find that there are a lot of contradictions and inconsistencies between articles. You’ll probably find 10 different things about antioxidants and the miracles of fiber. Sadly, most of those articles are written without understanding that a healthy diet is something that changes with circumstances. What is healthy for me may not be healthy for you.
What is a healthy diet?
A healthy diet is simply a diet that allows you to consume all the nutrients you need to function properly. Understand what different macro nutrients (carbs, proteins and fats) are needed for. See what choices are available for organic and commercial diets.
What is the Right Healthy Diet?
That is actually an impossible question and depends on lots of complex variables. Your body type, food allergies, lifestyle and type work you do play a big part in this. At the moment, the scientific community has no magic diets. There are plenty of theories about how some diets are better than others and the benefits that some individuals could obtain from them.
For instance the Mediterranean Diet has been gaining a lot of attention over the last few years for its many recognized effects over risk factors related to cardiovascular disease, insulin sensitivity, inflammation, etc. So it is a fine recommendation if you are looking for a diet with those particular benefits. However, this is just an example; other diets offer benefits that may be more attractive for people under different circumstances.
What is Your Focus with a Diet?
Different people have different goals. Some want to cut the extra fat and some want to gain lean muscle. A few diet plans focus on simply providing all necessary nutrients that an average man or woman would require based on the nutritional value of each food item and a current understanding of a population’s nutritional needs. Such is the case of the Eatwell guide.
Some Standard Guidelines
Some common recommendations that remain valid and should be considered if you are thinking about creating better eating habits are:
Carbs are a source of energy and fibers are a type of carbs. Getting a high chunk of your carbs from fibers is beneficial. They are digested slowly and don’t promote fat accumulation as much as processed sugars.
Caloric restriction diets (ingesting smaller amounts of food) are fine short-term diets but most people find it very hard to follow them for a very long time. It is better to add a physical activity to your life to allow your body to burn more calories.
Simple sugars (like sucrose) promote weight gain especially when combined with high amount of fat consumption and lower physical activity.
If you suffer from some kind of nutrient deficiency, then a normal diet may not be recommended. Treatment for these conditions can include special & healthy diets designed by a nutritionist and/or supplements.
Myths on Healthy Diets
Detox diets: Detox is a very common term used by pop articles that is meant to conjure ideas of cleanliness, feeling good and being healthy. That is a nice idea but almost always is a waste of money. Humans have entire systems dedicated to identify and eliminate specific toxic components. Saying some food or diet pan will “detoxify” you is a very empty statement.
Diets without Gluten: These are not really a scam, just that they are only really useful for people that are sensitive to gluten and experience severe consequences when they ingest it. Average individuals may lose some weight with these diets but this will be mainly because they are consuming less calories. Gluten actually has some health benefits, so simply removing it from your diet without a good reason is not recommended.
Quantity is better than quality: This refers to the trend of counting calories. This is a useless exercise if you consider that our bodies don’t consume calories, they consume food made out of many different components that need to be processed in different ways. At the end, what you eat is more important. For example, 100 calories of sugar will do more harm than 100 calories of fiber and 1000 calories of protein will not be handled the same than 1000 calories of fat.
Vitamins and other supplements: A lot of people take these as a way to obtain micro-nutrients that may not be present in their current diets. However, evidence shows that supplements need to be carefully adjusted as per your diet.
As we mentioned before, a healthy diet is something very personal. It needs to be healthy for YOU. Don’t follow trends without facts. If you want to know and follow a personalized diet or understand your nutritional needs, we recommend getting an appointment with a nutritionist to get a specific diet plan for your needs.