Paleo, ketogenic or Mediterranean: which diet is better for optimal health?
Health magazine recently published an article on the new “Miracle Diet” that stars such as Tom Brady, Venus Williams and Penelope Cruze are advocating to improve performance, enhance their appearances and help fight disease. The basis of the diet is an anti-inflammatory eating plan, and some elements of this plan have been promoted by numerous MD’s, including Dr. Andrew Weil, Dr. Mark Hyman and Dr. Frank Hu (professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health).
So, which diet is really the best for maintaining a healthy weight and helping to fight disease?
Here’s a short analysis:
The Paleo diet, also called the Caveman diet, essentially tries to mimic how our ancestors ate 3,000 years ago. It is quite restrictive, and does not allow any type of grains, dairy, legumes, or processed food of any kind (think no sugar, no white flour). So if you see a high fiber “Paleo” snack bar at your local health food store, it probably is not truly a food item that should be on the Paleo diet (did our ancestors 3,000 years ago eat packaged snack bars? I don’t think so!)
The ketogenic diet has made headlines lately, and is honestly a remake of a diet that was advocated in the 1920’s as a treatment for epilepsy. It quite simply is a very low carb (20–50 grams/day), high fat (65–80% of your daily calories) diet, and has been shown to help people lose weight fairly quickly and help diabetics lower their blood sugars. The down side is that some people have unpleasant side effects and symptoms such as constipation and flu-like symptoms, and it’s hard to maintain long term.
The Mediterranean diet, one of the most common anti-inflammatory diets, emphasizes fruits, non-starchy vegetables, whole grains, fish and olive oil, and avoiding added sugar and refined grains, such as white bread. This eating plan has the most research backing, including the famed Nurses’ Health Study, which followed thousands of nurses over a long period of time, and found that those who consumed a Mediterranean style pattern of eating had lower inflammatory markers in their blood, and less heart disease.
So, what is the VERY BEST diet? The answer is that it depends on you. No one diet is perfect for everyone, but most of the experts agree that some version of an anti-inflammatory diet–lots of non-starchy vegetables, some fruit, lean protein sources, healthy fats and no added sugar or refined carbohydrates–is ideal for most people to maintain proper weight and feel their best.
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