In 1980, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics declared March as National Nutrition Month, to enable people to re-focus on the “importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.”
Improving one’s health through easily digestible means (insert groan here) is a good idea for everyone. But the following offers a glimpse at today’s most popular diet trends, and their highlights:
Ketogenic Diet (or “Keto”)
Diet centers on a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet that essentially puts the body into a state of ketosis, which means that the body burns fat and doesn’t create new fat stores in the cells.
This diet is very effective in reducing body fat, but experts explain that going too far can cause health problems. The body requires carbohydrates to survive, so going to extremes may cause short-term side effects, such as leg cramps, dizziness. Long-term health problems also are a risk.
The idea behind this diet comes from our ancestors, and centers on consuming only foods that hunter-gatherers would eat, such as fish, lean meats, some vegetables, and nuts and seeds. Since farming was not part of the hunter-gatherer’s lifestyle, dairy, grains, legumes, and other “farm” products are not included in this diet.
The idea behind this diet is that disease exists in a body which is more acidic, and that an alkaline body is inhospitable to disease. (Note: this is an assumption with little scientific evidence to support the claim).
This diet encourages the removal of meat, wheat, refined sugar, processed foods, dairy, eggs, canned foods, alcohol, and caffeine, which cause the body to become more acidic. To maintain a pH of 7 or above, this diet promotes the consumption of vegetables, nuts, legumes, and tofu.
This plan is appealing to those who want to try a diet with a foreseeable “end date.” In this case, for 30 days, eat foods that are as close to their natural state as possible, and consume foods with fewer ingredients or only ingredients that you recognize (and can pronounce!). It also discourages dieters from using a scale as a way to track their success.
The theory is that following this diet for 30 days will result in fewer cravings, improved metabolism, and reduced inflammation.
Heart-healthy foods found in the diets of Mediterranean cultures are the staples of this diet, which includes replacing “bad” cholesterol foods, such as butter, with healthier ones, like olive oil. It also encourages consuming a mostly plant-based diet.
Founders call this diet “vegetarian, with a lot of cheat days.” Its focus encourages a diet consisting mostly of vegetables for at least five days per week, and consuming a vegan diet before 6 pm most days.
This diet suggests that plants high in lectins – which includes beans, whole grains, and legumes, as well as nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant) – are a major cause of inflammation. The lectin-free diet encourages followers to eat pasture-raised meats, cooked sweet potatoes, leafy green vegetables, broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, mushrooms, avocados, and olive oil.
Before beginning any changes to your diet and exercise regimen, check with your physician to ensure you will not be removing necessary nutrients, and that you are healthy enough to engage in certain physical activities.
Whatever diet and exercise plan you decide to follow, living in a Windsong community makes it easier to succeed, with well-designed kitchens that make preparing and storing healthy foods convenient and easy; and a focus on outdoor living that encourages a healthy lifestyle.
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