Good eating habits ensure that the body gets all fluids, macronutrients (needed in large quantities), micronutrients (needed in small quantities), minerals, vitamins and adequate calories. The macronutrients being carbohydrates, fats, fibre, proteins and water while micronutrients include minerals and vitamins. These compounds are composed of elements such as carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and phosphorus. Each of it is required in body for carrying out structural and various biochemical functions. Hence it’s no rocket science to understand how nutrition affects our body, after all- we are what we eat!
A diet can be best described as a fixed plan of eating and drinking where the type (carbs no-carbs/sugary/fat-free/dairy-free) and amount of food (calories) are planned out in order to achieve all types of reasons like weight loss, lowering cholesterol or insulin, having a healthy heart, lowering high blood pressure or to follow a particular lifestyle and for many other reasons.
There are also a wide variety of options to chose from when it comes to selecting a diet one wishes to follow. Let’s have a closer look at some of the popular types of diets that people are using all around the world.
A vegan diet is a non-meat diet including vegetables, fruits, and legumes. It is further sub-classified into: Lacto (No meat or eggs, but can consume milk, yogurt, and other dairy products), Ovo ( No meat or dairy products, but can consume eggs), Ovo-lacto ( No meat, but can consume eggs and dairy products). This diet plan thus reduces the intake of cholesterol and saturated fat. People following vegan diet have minimised overall risk of coronary heart disease, obesity and high blood pressure.
Raw food diet:
The raw food diet, or raw foodism, involves consuming foods and drinks that are unprocessed ( plant based or organic), non-pasteurized and ideally uncooked. The raw foodists are of four types: raw vegetarians, raw vegans, raw omnivores and raw carnivores. The diet thus aims consuming food in nature’s way while eliminating the number of carcinogens in one’s diet.
The Mediterranean diet is Southern European, that stresses on heavy vegetable intake and avoids a lot of meat, but does not eliminate it altogether. This diet recommends use of oil (containing unsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids) over butter, salad dressing or marinades. Consumption of dairy products like chesses and yoghurt is allowed. This diet has been proven to help with depression, heart and brain health, controlling blood sugar levels and helping with weight loss.
Weight Watcher diet
Weight Watchers is a popular diet. The Weight Watchers plan is based on the ‘SmartPoints’ also previously called ‘pure points’ or ‘pro points’. Here each food is given a certain number of point based on its nutritional breakdown (protein, carbs, fat and fibre content). No foods are off limits but you are allowed to eat only certain smartpoints each day. Foods that are high in nutrients and are filling have fewer points overall. Sweets, on the other hand, are high in points. Fruit and vegetables are not subject to points – so you can consume as much as you like of those. Hence it is a personalised calorie control diet where you chose to have whatever you wish but within your allowance.
South Beach diet
The South Beach diet was introduced by a cardiologist, Dr. Agatston, and a nutritionist, Marie Almon. There’s no calorie counting and no limits on portions. This diet encourages having three meals and two snacks a day compromising of low-GI protein, including meat, fish and poultry, as well as some low-GI vegetables and unsaturated fats. This is because the diet focuses on control of insulin level in body. This diet is also referred to as a healthy heart diet.
The Atkins diet promises to turn your body into a fat-burning machine. The theory is that by starving yourself of carbohydrates (such as bread, potatoes, rice, chocolate, chips, cereals), your body will start burning fat for energy. With its diet of red meat, butter, cream, cheese and mayonnaise, high protein foods (meat, poultry, fish and eggs) and high-fat foods (cream, butter, cheese) you consume fewer calories as you feel more fuller and less hungry.
This is a natural way of eating, also known as the caveman diet, consists of foods such as meat, seafood, eggs, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices. Paleo diet is low carb, high protein, no sugar, no dairy diet. Advocates say the paleo diet is a long-term healthy eating plan that can help you lose weight and reduce your risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other health problems. Processed foods and grains are strictly of the menu. Paleo diet advocates the theory, the fewer number of carbohydrates in your system leads to a decreased amount of glucose. So your system will then begin to use fat .
Volumetric diet focuses on the energy density in foods. Foods that have high energy density will have lots of calories for a little amount of food, whereas low energy density foods have fewer calories for more food. Perhaps that foods that contain more water, such as fruits and vegetables, are healthier because they have lower energy density than sugary and fatty foods. Volumetrics strongly promotes eating home cooked food and eating to feel full.
Ketogenic diet involves reducing carbohydrate intake and upping fat intake. Sounds crazy? But it allows the body to burn fat as a fuel rather than carbohydrates. This is because the diet causes the breakdown of fat deposits and generation of substances called ketones through a process called ketosis. To maintain emphasis on fat food such avocados, coconuts, brazil nuts, seeds, oily fish and olive oil containing healthy fat are allowed in the diet. The ketogenic diet has been found successful in treatment for epilepsy.
The DASH diet was designed to help people treat hypertension. This diet encourages having mix of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy. People on this diet are advised to avoid saturated fat, sugary beverages, sweets, full-fat dairy and some oils. The diet follows a low sodium approach while including foods rich in nutrients that help lower blood pressure, such as potassium, calcium and magnesium.
As one can see no one diet is superior to the other. Decide what is your goal and what is your plan. The end goal for each diet is the same, to help you live a healthier life!