What you must know about the trending diets
We all have a friend who went Paleo or Vegan and not only thinks it’s the best diet in the world, but also tries to persuade everyone to try it as well.
Well, the truth is -- Diets are never a “one-fits-all” solution. It really depends on your biochemical individuality and your health condition.
That’s why I wanted to highlight several “trending diets” and when and why they can cause more harm than good.
Are you ready to be surprised?
The Vegan diet
While I understand that some are following this diet for ethical reasons, I’m mainly addressing those who switch to Veganism for “health benefits.”
This often makes the gut inflamed which then causes inflammation throughout the rest of your body.
And if you’re not consuming enough veggies on this diet, it can lead to your body becoming “acidic” which also causes systemic inflammation.
In addition, most of my vegan clients not only need to supplement with B12 (which is common), but also need to deal with amino acids (proteins), omega 3 fatty acids, iron, calcium, vitamin D, iodine, zinc, and selenium deficiencies.
For some conditions, a vegan diet can also make your symptoms increase or get even get worse.
For example, I once had a client suffering with IBS and went on a vegan diet to try and alleviate his symptoms. After going on the diet, he ended up having even WORSE symptoms because all of the grains were making his poor gut even more inflamed.
The Carnivore Diet
Really? Are folks really into eating only meat?
I’m truly trying not to be judgmental here, but a carnivore diet, or any diet without a variety of vegetables, will lead to decreased microbiome diversity over time.
We need the good bugs to avoid gut infections and keep our immune system functioning on all cylinders.
Also, this type of diet lacks fiber and gut motility may became compromised without adequate fiber intake .
Impaired motility can lead to an impairment of the mucosal barrier (aka leaky gut) and can contribute to an unbalanced microbiome.
In the functional medicine community paleo is often touted as the “cure-all” diet -- especially the autoimmune paleo diet.
While paleo can and will help so many change their lives and their health, I also see it being done “wrong” more often than one would think.
And when it is being done wrong, it can actually prevent you from achieving your desired results.
So how do I see it being done “wrong”?
When this happens and there’s not enough veggies to balance out the protein/fat, your body creates ROS (reactive oxygen species).
By volume our ancestors actually ate primarily vegetables with only small amounts of fruit and animal protein to supplement it.
So my advice to you is if you are doing “paleo” make sure to focus on including lots of amazing vegetables while monitoring your animal source intake. (See below in the Keto section for advice)
For those not familiar with the specifics of the ketogenic diet, the recommendations for achieving ketosis is to distribute your calories as follows: 60-80% of calories from Fat, 15-30% of calories from Protein, and 5- 10% of calories from Carbohydrates.
Keto in my opinion is similar to paleo in that many aren’t doing it correctly. I am not denying it is helpful for conditions such as epilepsy, diabetes, and even cancer, however it has it’s limitations when you consider maintaining this manner of eating long term.
In addition, I believe that ultimately it may not be healthy long term, it’s a diet, not a lifestyle.
I recommend, generally speaking, eating for your individual body’s need for a lifetime, not just for fast results.
Folks often under consume plants in a Keto diet and over consume animal protein. This can be okay for a healthy digestive system, to eat upwards of 30% of your calories from protein, however, if the digestive system is compromised prior to starting this diet, over consuming protein may be too much for your digestive system to handle.
As a result the digestive system becomes compromised and you may experience either digestive distress or systemic symptoms such as joint pain, muscle and headaches.
In addition, it’s often not emphasized the importance of sourcing “clean” protein, meaning grass fed, free range animals, and wild cold water fish.
And if you aren’t eating enough veggies to balance out the protein/fat, your body creates ROS (reactive oxygen species) which ultimately causes inflammation in your body.
In addition the lack of variety and quantity of vegetables leads to decreased microbiome diversity, thus a potentially suboptimally functioning immune system.
So how can you eat a variety and large quantity of vegetables and stay in ketosis? Look toward leafy greens and non-starchy vegetables for the lowest carbohydrate count per cup.
1 cup raw Kale = 6 grams of carbohydrates
1 cup raw Spinach = 1 gram of carbohydrates
1 cup raw purple cabbage = 5 grams of carbohydrates
1 cup of Arugula = 0.8 grams of carbohydrates
1 cup of Romaine = 1.5 grams of carbohydrates
1 cup of cucumber = 1.5 grams of carbohydrates
1 cup of celery = 1.2 grams of carbohydrates
1 cup of zucchini = 3.5 grams
That’s 8 cups of veggies and only 20.5 grams of carbohydrates! If you are eating 2,000 calories a day, and doing a ketogenic diet with a breakdown of 60/30/10, you would be allowed 200 calories from from carbohydrates daily, 20.5 grams of carbohydrates is only 82 calories from vegetable carbs, leaving you another 118 carbohydrate calories to consume from avocado, nuts, seeds, etc.
It’s more than doable on a ketogenic diet to have a varied and high quantity intake of vegetables, however it is not how most folks “do keto.”
Want to go keto, but not sure how to include those extra veggies? Check out @metabolic_mike for great tips on how to incorporate them without falling out of ketosis.
Regarding those with adrenal or sex hormone imbalances, please I beg, do not do a ketogenic diet until you have gently corrected those imbalances with the assistance of a health professional. It will do more harm than good.
I could talk at length about the various hormonal imbalances (estrogen dominance, low progesterone, low testosterone, thyroid disease, adrenal dysfunction etc) and how each one may be impaired by implementing a ketogenic diet, however one common finding in sex hormone imbalances is an underlying adrenal hormone imbalance, often caused by pregnenolone steal.
This action is due to stress, (emotional, physical, or psychological) the body is preferenatiating making the stress hormone cortisol rather than sex hormones. If this pathway is currently being over activated when starting the ketogenic diet, it may be perceived by your body as even more “stress,” thus augmenting and perpetuating this underlying condition.
Low carb high fat diet (LCHF)
The LCHF is a modification on the ketogenic diet that has good evidence for use for anything from cancer and epilepsy to diabetes and weight loss.
The LCHF diet is gentler and may have some benefits, since the average American or average person living in an industrialized country eats a fair amount of their calories from overly processed grains and refined sugar, lacking nutritional density provided by Vits/mins provided by veggies, fiber and antioxidants.
I suspect this diet shows some promise simply because the control group is made up of folks who eat an average diet that is more inflammatory than a low carb high fat diet.
Intermittent fasting when you are healthy enough to do so is an amazingly beneficial tool for augmenting overall health.
Studies support its benefit in everything from diabetes to heart disease cancer, weight loss and slowing degenerative brain diseases and longevity. And intermittent fasting changes the function of genes, hormones and cells.
When you do initiate intermittent fasting I suggest doing it overnight. Start with 10-12 hours, then increase from there, up to 16 hours.
It is also more comfortable for those new to intermittent fasting to do a modified intermittent fast and consume some tea (or coffee, if you are not sensitive to caffeine*) with MCT oil or MCT oil plus hydrolyzed collagen protein.
If you have any medical issue, seek the guidance of your medical professional prior to engaging in intermittent fasting.
If you have reactive hypoglycemia, do not attempt until this is regulated.
Some of the symptoms of reactive hypoglycemia: within 4 hours of eating carbohydrate rich foods one has these types of symptoms:
double vision or blurry vision
need to sleep after eating