After years of research on the subject, the consensus appears to be that there is no single diet that’s right for all of us. However, we have learned that we have a better idea of what healthy eating looks like.
The key is your overall eating pattern, not so much how many grams of carbohydrate, fat or protein you eat, or whether it is animal or plant protein. The choices are many: vegetarian?, vegan?, low fat?, low carb? Or perhaps flexetarian ( a little of both?)
The general healthiest pattern is emerging that consists mostly of nutrient dense whole foods that come from nature and includes few, if any highly processed foods. A closer look at this pattern recommends lots of vegetables and avoid sugar and refined grains.
When assessed for weight control, studies show that when individuals are divided into two major groups either low fat or low carbohydrate ,both groups lost weight – an average of 12 pounds, though some lost as much as 50 pounds. The participants also ate healthier and greatly improved their risk factors for heart disease and diabetes: body fat, waist size, blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol and insulin levels all of which can contribute to heart disease and diabetes.
A most important recent finding is that eating healthy can make a difference in how well your immune system functions, so important now as it is greatly needed to fight COVID-19. 70 percent of our immune system resides in the gut; therefore we must become more aware of providing nutrients that feed these gut bacteria. Packaged foods create inflammation and hamper immunity. These include not only sweetened drinks, but breakfast cereals, refined bread and pasta. Look more toward whole grains. “A poor-quality diet loaded with sugar, saturated fat, salt, and chemicals is second to only to smoking in terms of its negative effects on health and lifespan,” says, Dr. Steven Heymsfield, professor at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, who was part of the development of the 2020 USDA Dietary Guidelines.
The best diet is the one that you choose after looking at the evidence that provides healthy benefits. Dr. Heymsfield says: “You could even try a diet for several weeks while keeping track of how it affects your weight, level of hunger and fullness, your mood, blood pressure and level of energy. Then try another for a few weeks and compare the results.”
Source: Nutrition: Your Healthiest Diet, Special Health Edition. 2021
2 thoughts on “What Healthy Eating Means Now”
Very useful post. I agree it is important to see what is in common among these alternatives: avoiding processed junk, and including lots of healthy plant foods. Some people thrive on lower or higher carb content, which can be tuned with healthy foods by eating more or less starch, and more or less amounts of healthy fats. My only problem with low carb is if it makes people afraid of good carbs like whole fruits, veggies, and legumes. And Vegan is fine if it emphasizes whole plant foods. It is possible to be a “junk food” vegan which is not so healthy
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