The link between what is consumed and health has been known since at least 1826 when Anthelme Brillat-Savarin wrote in Physiologie du Gout, ou Meditations de Gastronomie Transcendante: “Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es.” [Translation: Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.]
Such a simple thought: You are what you eat. The question then is: What to eat?
Here are the top-rated diets per U.S. News and World Report:
- Mediterranean Diet
- (tied) DASH and Flexitarian Diet
- Weight Watchers Diet
- (tied) Mayo Clinic Diet, MIND Diet, and Volumetrics Diet
- TLC Diet
- (tied) Nordic and Ornish Diet
Most of the above diets recommend eating lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy and limited/avoiding processed foods, saturated fats, soda, and sweets/sugar.
Is there scientific research which shows the direct health benefits of eating such diets?
Scientific Research on Diet and Chronic Diseases
The food and drinks we consume affect the trillions of cells in our bodies. Observational data from numerous studies suggests that consuming too many calories and low-quality food is correlated with an increased risk of getting a chronic disease, such as cancer and diabetes. Yet, there are many challenges to creating a study in which a the results will uncover a diet which directly causes health benefits which results in lower the risk of chronic disease.
Chronic diseases develop over years and are affected by many lifestyle and genetic factors. Teasing out specific risk factors which lead to illness is complicated by the difficulty of isolating each specific strand from the tapestry of environment, diet, exercise, genetics, and more. A recent study which utilized the scientific gold standard of randomized controlled trials (in which the specific variable being tested can be isolated) was the 2013 Mediterranean Diet study. This study’s findings uncovered a diet which directly caused health benefits. As reported in the 2018 NPR article (https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/06/13/619619302/errors-trigger-retraction-of-study-on-mediterranean-diets-heart-benefits), the New England Journal of Medicine retracted the 2013 Mediterranean Diet study results due to errors in the randomization of the participants.
Does such retraction mean there are no health benefits associated with eating the Mediterranean diet? Other studies have shown a correlation between people eating this diet and having a lower risk of a number of health concerns, but not able to claim this diet is the direct cause for the health benefits.
Best Diet for Everyone
Is there a best diet for everyone?
U.S. News and World Report (https://health.usnews.com/best-diet/best-diets-overall) reviewed 35 of the current, popular diets with input form a panel of health experts and ranked them. To be top-rated, a diet had to be relatively easy to follow, nutritious, safe, effective for weight loss and protective against diabetes and heart disease.
How to find the best diet for me?
By working with a functional medicine practitioner to identify underlying food allergies, intolerances and sensitivities, and analyze what is too low or too high in your system, and create the best, individualized program for you.
To your health.
Dianne Hinton NP, PA, IFM-C
Best Diet For Me
If a diet is best for everyone, does that mean it would be the best diet for me?
While the Mediterranean Diet or any of the other top-rated diets are good places to start, the best diet for each individual is distinct to each person. For example, while strawberries are a healthy fruit for most, someone with a food allergy or sensitive to strawberries should not eat strawberries.