What should you do to get back in shape this Spring? Try a paleo-diet, go vegan? How about the Mediterranean diet, or even experiment with a low-carb diet? It turns out, according to a study recently published in Annual Reviews by a highly credentialed medical expert, Dr. David Katz, that the best food – is REAL food.
Forget about infomercials, questionable advice from your trainer at the gym, or the latest diet craze. All you need to do is put away the processed, non-food, junk you’ve been eating and you can expect to lose weight, feel better, and actually be – here’s a novel idea – healthier.
Credible nutritionists have been saying it forever, and even foodies know that nothing can take the place of real food – not GMO, not chemical laden biotech food, or things filled with artificial preservatives, colors flavorings, and more non-food stuff that our bodies don’t want or need. It can get confusing because one expert will tout the benefits of lowering carbs, and another or minimizing calories, then another will convincingly argue that you just need to combine certain foods for the best overall effect. It turns out that all of this, and your conscience probably already knows this –that real food is the answer.
We all have had inclinations of eating better – whether it was to cure ourselves from a serious disease like cancer or diabetes, or for more superficial reasons, like wanting to look better in a bathing suit, but real, and dramatic changes can happen in lifespan, and the reduction of chronic illness when we eat right. Study after study has compelled us to eat more nutritious foods, and now the latest compares all the ‘popular’ or ‘fad’ diets, and finds, unequivocally, that real food still wins.
—the data in favor of optimizing our diets are even more compelling. No one is arguing that diet is less than extremely important to health and well-being, but seemingly everyone is arguing as to what constitutes the best diet.
Dr. David Katz works at Yale University’s Prevention Research Center, and he rebels against a sea of disinformation about what people should eat to be healthy. He looks down on of-the-moment diet fads and dangerous crazes that many of his contemporaries – even other doctors promote without sound reason.
Katz compared the medical evidence for every mainstream diet around right now, and said, ‘he didn’t have a dog in the fight right now,’ meaning his research was largely without bias because he isn’t selling a diet pill or some other special fad-diet in a get-rich scheme. In a recent interview, he said”
“I don’t care which diet is best. I care about the truth.”
Katz published his findings with colleague, Stephanie Meller in a paper titled, “Can We Say What Diet Is Best for Health?” They compared all the trend diets of the day: Low carb, low fat, low glycemic, Mediterranean, mixed/balanced (DASH), Paleolithic, vegan, and elements of other diets.
Katz says that despite the prevalent promotion of these diets in mainstream media, there are few studies proving they actually work:
“There have been no rigorous, long-term studies comparing contenders for best diet laurels using methodology that precludes bias and confounding. For many reasons, such studies are unlikely.”
Conversely, he found that:
“A diet of minimally processed foods close to nature, predominantly plants, is decisively associated with health promotion and disease prevention.”
Among the important points made by the article are these:
- Plant-based diets (non-GMO,organic, real plants, I might add) are nutritional powerhouses which support a wide variety of favorable health outcomes. These include lower rates of heart disease and cancer. These diets don’t just include fruits and vegetables, but real grains, nuts and seeds.
- Katz and Meller found that ‘low-fat’ diets are no better than diets high in real, healthful fats (not fake, man-made ones). The Mediterranean diet is only successful because it contains a lower omega-6 to omega-3 ratio than the typical American diet. Americans also rely far too much on unhealthy fats like trans-fats.
- Moderating meat intake, and alcohol improves health.
- Increasing natural fiber improves health, including, “defense against neurodegenerative disease and preservation of cognitive function, reduced inflammation, and defense against asthma.”
- Carbohydrate-selective diets are better than simply low-carb diets. Attention to glycemic index is important, but not the most important thing – since carrots, for example have a high glycemic index, but can cure cancer. Again, it goes back to eating real food.
- One of the most important points of the study was this one: “if Paleolithic eating is loosely interpreted to mean a diet based mostly on meat, no meaningful interpretation of health effects is possible.”
Katz is frustrated with the misinformation about how diet affects health:
“It’s not just linguistic, I really at times feel like crying, when I think about that we’re paying for ignorance with human lives . . . At times, I hate the people with alphabet soup after their names who are promising the moon and the stars with certainty. I hate knowing that the next person is already rubbing his or her hands together with the next fad to make it on the bestseller list.”
It’s a radical notion in today’s GMO-promoted, FDA-ignorant, pharmaceutical-pushing world, but real food can cure you. You may want to try eating some.
Christina Sarich is a humanitarian and freelance writer helping you to Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World. Her latest book is Pharma Sutra: Healing the Body And Mind Through the Art of Yoga.