Every year, as millions of people around the world forge new resolutions to eat healthier and lose weight, US News & World Report releases a conveniently timed ranking of the best diets. A panel of experts in obesity, nutrition, diabetes, heart disease, and food psychology rigorously rate each of 39 diets on seven criteria:
- Likelihood of losing significant weight in the first 12 months
- Likelihood of losing significant weight over two years or more
- Effectiveness for preventing diabetes (or as a maintenance diet)
- Effectiveness for preventing heart disease (or for reducing risk for heart patients)
- How easy it is to follow
- Nutritional completeness
- Health risks (like malnourishment, too-rapid weight loss, or specific nutrient deficiencies)
1. Mediterranean diet
Emphasis on fruits, veggies, whole grains, olive oil, beans, nuts, legumes, fish and other seafood. Eggs, cheese, and yogurt can be eaten in moderation. Keep red meats and sugar as treats.
2. DASH (dietary approaches to stop hypertension) diet — TIE
Eat lots of fruits, veggies, lean protein, whole grains, and low-fat dairy. Avoid saturated fats and sugar.
2. Flexitarian diet — TIE
Be a vegetarian most of the time. Swap in beans, peas, or eggs for meats, and consume plenty of fruits, veggies, and whole grains. You can look up more details because there’s actually a full meal plan involving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and two snacks to add up to a total 1500 calories per day. But feel free to also just swap in flexitarian meals ad hoc.
4. Weight Watchers
The first actual paid program on the list, WW uses a points system to guide dieters towards foods lower in sugar, saturated fat, and overall calories while consuming slightly more protein. There are a variety of paid WW plans, with the lowest being about $20 per month.
5. Mayo Clinic diet — TIE
A two-part system, with part one (‘Lose it!’) involving adding a healthy breakfast (i.e. fruits, veggies, whole grains, healthy fats) plus 30 minutes of exercise per day. You’re not allowed to eat while watching TV or consume sugar except what’s naturally found in fruit. Meat is only allowed in limited quantities, as is full-fat dairy. The second phase (‘Live it!’) is basically the first phase but with more flexibility. You aren’t realistically going to cut out sugar forever, and the Mayo Clinic diet acknowledges that. So the long term plan involves lots of whole grains, fruits, veggies, and healthy fats. Less saturated fats and sugar.
ABDOMINAL (VISCERAL) FAT KILLS. The following post tells you how, and suggests what you might do to prevent this scourge, which is gradually becoming an epidemic in America.
OBESITY is an energy imbalance problem. MORE CALORIES ARE CONSUMED THAN ARE NEEDED AND CAN BE UTILIZED. A Good quality Diet, with lots of natural (rather than processed) foods, especially vegetables and fruits, have lots of FIBER that takes up space and makes you feel full.
Fiber also feeds the MICROBIOME. If the foods are DIVERSE, the microbiome will also be diverse and help utilize the calories you eat. A healthy Microbiome also contributes to your health by manufacturing neurotransmitters, vitamins, and other factors that are just starting to be appreciated. Diet QUALITY, as well as quantity, is important.
EXERCISE is critical for more than utilizing calories. It increases ADIPONECTIN which guides fat to fat stores where they belong, rather than to the liver, and IRISIN which favors the production of BROWN FAT, thus utilizing energy. The opposite of exercise, the SEDENTARY LIFESTYLE, is now considered a disease system in itself.
Lack of SLEEP favors obesity in a number of ways; at the very least, you can’t eat while asleep. Abdominal fat contains INFLAMMATORY cells which go directly to the Liver via the hepatic portal system to cause metabolic disruption. Insulin sensitivity falls, blood sugar, LDL and triglycerides rise. DIABETES and the METABOLIC SYNDROME result.
The excessive weight also causes back, hip and knee problems which contribute to the 10% increase in overall medical costs due to Obesity.
We have no photographs, abdominal, navel-level girth measurements, CTs, BMIs or death certificates to prove it, but it is highly unlikely that Paleolithic Humans suffered from excessive abdominal fat. They had no refrigerators, deliciously packaged snacks, sugary, fructose-containing soft drinks and candy, nor did they have cave-lighting to extend their daylight eating hours and disrupt their diurnal rhythm.
They had to walk or run long distances to obtain their meagre food supplies, which tired them out so that they most likely had a good night’s sleep. SLEEP, DIET and EXERCISE are built into our Metabolism by Darwinian Evolution. Paleolithic humans didn’t live long lives and succumb to cancer and heart disease.
They died most often by violence, which made Blood clotting a survival benefit, rather than the Risk factor for stroke and heart attacks that coagulation is to us now. It is not all our fault that OBESITY is steadily increasing over the last few decades.
CAPITALISM is driven to provide us with ever increasingly available and tasty food. Both consumers and purveyors scream when even the most logical political check on OVEREATING is legislated: Taxing of sugary, fructose-containing, nutritionless soft drinks was tried in Philadelphia to a chorus of complaints. To my knowledge the tax has survived, reduced sugary drink consumption, and was helpful in reducing the weight of Philadelphia residents. Not many cities were brave enough to follow suit.
GENETIC Influences can also conspire against weight control. The FTO gene, while relatively infrequent does have an influence, as shown in twin studies. And there seems to be a SET POINT in weight that makes it difficult to take off the pounds and keep them off. 2 years after almost all diets, the weight has returned. Eating HABITS, once established are hard to change.
BARIATRIC SURGERY has been shown to help Obesity, as well as Metabolic syndrome and Diabetes .I hope it will survive the test of time. Weight gain is easier to PREVENT than it is to treat. Somehow, society must get to the children, and keep them from gaining weight in the first place. Even children are now becoming obese.
INTERMITTENT FASTING can help contain Obesity. My own version is TIME-RESTRICTED EATING. I limit my eating to 6 hours a day, from Noon (usually 1PM) until 6PM. This has resulted in a modest weight loss from 142 pounds to 137 pounds. My son lost some 30 pounds in a 30 day, 1000 calorie “crash” diet to fend off advised Back Surgery. He exercised a lot of SELF CONTROL both to lose the weight, and to keep it off.
Unfortunately, Self Control is in short supply in our present SOCIETY OF EXCESS. Good luck in your quest, if you choose to embark on weight reduction. And good luck with your health if you don’t. I recommend “the secret life of fat” by Sylvia Tara in either case. Also, search for intermittent fasting in DWWR.
Water, the miracle molecule, proteins and fats are the very essence of life. Water does not dissolve fat, allowing for the cell membranes, and the compartmentalization of metabolic activity that allows life to happen.
FAT IS ESSENTIAL TO LIFE. Alas, all fats are not equally beneficial to nutrition, as the article stresses. Trans-fats, partially hydrogenated fatty acids produced mainly by industry, are the worst, acting to stimulate cholesterol synthesis, produce inflammation and damage the endoplasmic reticulum.
Their use has been banned in most countries. Saturated fat has been widely condemned, is not as good as the mono- and polyunsaturated fats, but not as bad as trans-fats. Some of life’s most delicious foods, such as cheeses, contain saturated fats, but it is best to keep down their consumption.
Remember that the first bite of something savory tastes the best; prevent habit from shoveling it down. Unsaturated fats are found in oily fish, which should be part of your diet.
Vegetables such as nuts, seeds, olives, and avocados are sources of “good fat” and should comprise 10-15% of your calories. Fats, compared to carbohydrates, contribute almost twice as many calories to your diet on a weight basis, and it’s easy to get carried away.
Total calories must be kept under control. STAY HEALTHY!
From Phys.org/Univ. of Michigan (June 9, 2020):
“On a high-sugar diet, we find that the fruit flies’ dopaminergic neurons are less active, because the high sugar intake decreases the intensity of the sweetness signal that comes from the mouth,” Dus said. “Animals use this feedback from dopamine to make predictions about how rewarding or filling a food will be. In the high-sugar diet flies, this process is broken—they get less dopamine neuron activation and so end up eating more than they need, which over time makes them gain weight.”
It is well known that consuming food and drink high in sugar is not great for us, but scientists are continuing to unravel the intricacies of how the sweet stuff drives negative health outcomes. The latest finding comes from researchers at the University of Michigan, who through studies in fruit flies have found that excess amounts of sugar can shut down crucial neural circuits linked to regulating satiety, possibly leading to overeating in humans.
SUGAR IS A POISON.
A novel illustration of sugars’ lethality was the Georgia sugar refinery explosion in 2008, which killed 14 people. Finely ground sugar is flammable.
Sugar appeared early in civilization, but it was expensive, sparing all but the wealthy of its’ depredations, mainly tooth decay. Only with the post WWII expansion of wealth was it consumed excessively to produce the diseases of overeating. The developed world now consumes over 70 pounds of sugar per person, amounting to over 250 CALORIES PER DAY!
This article shows how SUGAR acts like a DRUG In its INTERFERENCE with the DOPAMINERGIC Reward system. The neurons send less signal, so you need MORE SUGAR to satisfy.
The metabolic systems through which overeating and sugar causes the OBESITY, DIABETES, VASCULAR DISEASE and Early DEMENTIA are convoluted.The best detailed explication is in the NEJM article in intermittent fasting, a healthful practice that is the polar opposite of overeating.
Two very important metabolic mechanisms are discussed, the mTOR system and the Sirtuin system. These systems are important for NUTRIENT SENSING and repair, and conserved in all animals. They worked just fine in our early ancestors.
It seems that primitive man was not blessed (or is it cursed) with easy overabundance or food, and actually spent hours or days in Hunger. When times were good, his body put on muscle, and stored fat against the hard times to come. This is called ANABOLISM. When times were bad, his body went into repair mode, and used the fat for energy. This is called CATABOLISM.
Anabolism has evolved expressly for Young Animals, where extra food is welcome for Growth. After the growing and Reproductive years, our Bodies’ evolutionary “warrant” expires, since the genes it carries have already been spread. Our older bodies are left to deal with machinery more suited to an earlier vibrancy. Our metabolism didn’t evolve to deal with the calories we shove into our aging Bodies. Many mechanisms beneficial in the young prove harmful later on. This divergence has been called “ antagonistic pleiotropy”.
Whatever the explanation, the observation remains: if adults eat more than they can use, they gain weight. With insufficient exercise, this weight is fat. With excessive fat, the joints, blood vessels, liver, heart and brain suffer, and lifespan is shortened.
RETHINK YOUR LIFESTYLE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. AVOIDING SUGAR, and ALL THINGS CONTAINING SUGAR is as good a place as any to start. You will be rewarded by being able to fully taste and enjoy the natural sweetness of many REAL FOODS, and afforded a longer life to partake in this pleasure.
We observed that increased adherence to the MedDiet modulates specific components of the gut microbiota that were associated with a reduction in risk of frailty, improved cognitive function and reduced inflammatory status.
Dr Philip Smith, Digital and Education Editor of Gut and Consultant Gastroenterologist at the Royal Liverpool Hospital interviews Professor Paul O’Toole; who is Professor of Microbial Genomics, Head of School of Microbiology and Principal Investigator in APC Microbiome Ireland, an SFI funded centre at University College Cork, Ireland, on “Mediterranean diet intervention alters the gut microbiome in older people reducing frailty and improving health status: the NU-AGE 1-year dietary intervention across 5 European countries” published in paper copy in Gut in July 2020.
Diet is one of the 3 pillars ( or 4, if you don’t consider intellectual stimulation a form of exercise) of health. And there are 3 prime dimensions to diet: Quality, Quantity, and Timing. This excellent study addresses the Quality of the diet. Vegetables, fruits and whole grains are the foundation.
Dietary Fiber is the main difference between the healthful Mediterranean diet and the highly processed diet so common in America.
How can you be sure you are eating enough fiber? Read on.
On almost all cans and boxes, you will find a nutritional statement, by law. Assuming that the contents are “real food”, and preferably “organic”, look for the “fiber” in grams, and the “calories” in 100’s, and mentally divide the grams of fiber by 100s of calories, and you get a number. Let’s say that your fiber for the day totals “25” gms. and your calories for the day Totals 2500; that is “25” hundred calories. Divide the 25 grams by the 25 hundred calories, and you get “1”. Anything less than 1 is low in fiber.
25 grams of fiber is about the daily recommendation for fiber. 25 hundred calories is a ballpark figure for an average diet.
PORTION SIZE DOESN’T MATTER, since your dividend is a ratio.
The bacteria in your MICROBIOME feed on the fiber, and the higher and more diverse the fiber ( within reason. Hay is high in fiber) the healthier the food.
Blueberries are good for a fruit at 4-5 gms. of fiber per hundred calories. Broccoli is a good vegetable at 10 gms fiber per hundred calories, carrots about 3, and so on.
Sugar is the perfect “bad” food, at no fiber for as many calories as you can pack in. It makes you Want more, and “desensitizes” your taste buds to the natural sweetness of fruit, or even vegetables.
HIGH FIBER foods are MORE FILLING, leading you to eat less.
Civilization and Capitalism pushes too much food and too many calories at us. Overeating , obesity, and many of the modern illnesses is the result.
Generally, fresh fruits and vegetables are preferred, though cooking doesn’t do much harm, other than some vitamin loss that can be replaced.
Whole grain cereals have fiber in addition to other nutrients. Also, the complex carbohydrates in whole grains are released more slowly than wIth refined cereals. This floods your blood less rapidly with glucose, and elicits a Less precipitous insulin response. This results in a lower, healthier “glycemic Index”.
Vegetables, fruits Legumes, seeds, nuts and their oils are the mainstay of the Vegan diet, which is healthful If enough protein and essential fats are ingested.
Fish, eggs, milk and cheeses are other components of the Mediterranean diet.
I take many of my daily Vegetable and fruits and liquefy them in a food blender. Drinking my daily vegetables and fruits is a tasty and convenient way to improve my diet. I Savor individually those items I find most tasty, like nuts, apples, avocado, And fruit in season. This exercises my jaws, which is probably healthy.
YOUR MICROBIOME helps you in many ways that science is just beginning to understand. A healthy Microbiome is a DIVERSE Microbiome. FIBER is the food of the Microbiome, and a diversity in dietary fiber leads to a diverse Microbiome. A diverse, happy Microbiome produces many biological substances, like neurotransmitters, and probably communicates with the brain directly through the gut-brain Axis.
The Podcast on the 1 year Meddiet showed how directly a diet can BENEFIT HEALTH STATUS.
This article gave an interesting classification of fermented foods, pointing out that with some, like bread and wine, we eat the products of fermentation without the living organisms, while with others like kefir and yogurt, we eat the viable critters also.
Lactobacilli are called probiotics, and are supposed to have health benefits. It is not proven that they do, but at least the lactobacilli use up some of the sugar we would otherwise be eating, and taste good.
The problem with the claim that they diversify and benefit our microbiome, and crowd out the bad germs, is that they do not generally attach to our intestinal walls, and go right through with the rest of our food. They don’t stick around long enough to do any good.
My late wife had a bad infection with a bad actor called Clostridium difficile, which caused her to have a severe, bloody enterocolitis. After the second hospitalization with this affliction, an Infectious disease doctor suggested “culturelle”, which contained a patented Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, which WAS supposedly proven to attach for a while. My wife took this, and never had another attack.
I still take this daily, “on faith”. Gullible me. Fecal transplants are now used effectively for C. Dif. enterocolitis. Avoiding unnecessary antibiotics, which wipe out your normal microbiome, your “good guy competition”, is An even better idea, but seems risky.
BOTTOM LINE: Kefir and yogurt are calorie depleted, and taste good. What is not to like?