Friday, March 28, 2014

Paleo Diet: The hottest diet but, is it good?

What was the hottest diet last year? The Paleo Diet topped the list of most Googled diet of 2013. The Paleo diet (short for Palaeolithic) is based upon the concept that an optimal diet is one to which the creators of the diet believe we are genetically adapted too. The diet encourages you to eat grass-produced meats, fish/seafood, fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, nuts, seeds and healthy oils meanwhile avoiding the consumption of cereal grains, legumes, dairy, refined sugar, potatoes, processed foods, salt and refined vegetables oils.

Recently, results from a two year randomized trial on the effects of a Palaeolithic-type diet in obese postmenopausal women were published. The results suggest that a Palaeolithic-type diet may have beneficial effects on body fat mass, abdominal obesity and triglyceride levels in obese postmenopausal women. Yet, in the same month another study, published in Cell Metabolism, cautions the use of a high-protein diets in older adults, an age range which includes postmenopausal women.* 

The  study compared dietary data from 6381 men and women, aged 50 and older from the NHANES III study (a national dietary survey in the United States), with mouse and cellular studies to understand how the level and source of protein in the diet affected aging, disease and mortality. The researchers concluded that high protein intake increased cancer death risk four-fold in adults aged 50-65 (interestingly, this risk was soothed if the protein was plant derived). Conversely, in adults over 65, when protein intake can help prevent weight loss and frailty, a high protein intake decreased cancer risk.

Both studies have potential weaknesses suggesting caution to drawing conclusions from the research until more is known. However, it does raise the question as to the long-term health effects of high-protein diets on health. 

With every diet there are potential pitfalls. Whenever you restrict your diet, in other words you avoid eating certain foods, you can fail to consume sufficient amounts of nutrients found in the foods you're avoiding. You ALWAYS need to have caution when using any diet to ensure you aren't developing a deficiency in any minerals, vitamins, essential fatty acids, fibre, protein, etc. 

Why Diets Work
Diets cause you to stop, rethink and change your diet. That alone will make you eat better and lose weight. Whether the "new" diet you are on is "better" in the long run - well, that's debatable. But, it can never hurt to rethink what you're eating and try to eat better.

My Confession
I've never done a "diet" before. I know - that sounds crazy but, I haven't. Nope, not even the low-carb craze that literally everyone tried. With every new fad diet that comes and goes I'm just too skeptical to try them, particularly the diets that cut out entire food groups or categories. I truly believe that eating a diet rich in a variety of whole foods is the best "diet" there is. And, most importantly, eat what makes you feel good (and, I don't mean that "good" feeling from stuffing your face with a sugar-coated donut). 

Want to Read More? 

Mellberg, C. et al. Long-term effects of Palaeolithic-type diet in obese postmenopausal women: a 2-year randomized trial. Eur J Clin Nutr 68, 350-357 (March 2014) doi:10.1038/ejcn.2013.290

Gerlic, M. et al. Low Protein Intake Is Associated with a Major Reduction in IGF-1, Cancer, and Overall Mortality in the 65 and Younger but Not Older Population. Cell Metabolism, Volume 19, Issue 3, 407-417, 4 March 2014.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Strawberries Reduce Cholesterol and other Blood Lipids

Oh, man. This is exciting. Imagine a craving you're supposed to give into! Red, juicy, mouth-wateringly sweet and tangy strawberries. Mmm, just the thought of them makes me crave them and according to new research out this month I can indulge without guilt. New research has found eating strawberries daily can lower blood lipid levels (cholesterol, triglycerides) and thus offer heart healthy benefits.

The Study: (Journal of Nutrition Biology - March 2014) Italian researchers reported that when study participants ate 500g of strawberries daily for a month they experienced a 9% drop in total cholesterol levels, 13% reduction in LDL cholesterol levels and 20% reduction in triglyceride levels. This suggests that eating strawberries beneficially lowers blood fat levels, which is associated with a lower risk of heart disease. In addition, eating strawberries resulted in higher levels of vitamin C and other antioxidant in the participants. Antioxidants are thought to be the fountain of  youth - antioxidants fight damaging inflammation, offer heart healthy benefits, reduce wrinkle formation and much more!

Want to read the study - click here:

As you can bet, I'm off to pull on my snow boots and dredge over to the store for some organic strawberries. If those aren't available (which is common here on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean under a blanket of snow and ice), then I'll bring home the most "local" strawberries I can, pull out my fruit and veggie wash and spritz those little berries to remove some of the yucky pesticides on them. My mouth is literally watering as I'm typing this - so excited!

My Confession: Despite knowing a lot about food and how it reacts with my body, I'm not perfect. Heck, I'd never suggest that I am. I do like to have my cake and eat it too. So, as you can guess this research is close to my heart - I have high cholesterol. Yep, thanks Dad for passing on those genes. So, when I read research that supports eating healthy (and did I mention delicious) foods to naturally keep cholesterol levels low I get really excited. Off to the store I go to stock up on some strawberries - organic, of course. Till next time, enjoy health!