Top 5 topics related to health and nutrition. From the craziest diet trends to research break-through.
1. Celery Juice diet
Towards the end of 2018 and beginning of 2019, you may have heard of the Celery Juice fad. If you haven't, briefly, this diet requires you to drink 16 ounces or approx 500mL of celery juice on an empty stomach every morning. This was started by Anthony William, a #1 New York Times Best Selling Author who according to his website 'was born with the unique ability to converse with Spirit of Compassion who provides him with extraordinarily accurate health information that’s often far ahead of its time'. His method claims to have healed people from digestive issues to cancer. Most important of all, many celebrities have shown support for this diet on social media which has encouraged a movement of celery juice over 2019. Dietitians over at Oncore Nutrition made a great post debunking this diet if you are interested to know more (http://oncorenutrition.com/sell-ery-juice/).
2. Intermittent Fasting
The intermittent fasting (IF) diet has been around for many years or more commonly known as 5:2 diet. However, in 2019 there has been more discussion regarding the 16:8 diet or time-restricted approach, which is a form of IF where you extend your nightly fast to 16 hours and eat within an 8 hour window. What does research tell us? Studies has been conducted and has shown to improve insulin sensitivity, weight loss, reduced loss of fat-free mass i.e. muscles and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (although unsure if it was the result of weight loss or fasting) etc. Objectively, weight loss is likely due to reduced overall daily calorie intake and more conscious effort in meal selection. This doesn't mean you can squeeze in as much 'junk' food within this 8 hour but isntead continue to have nutritious balanced meals. Individuals on medications, with diabetes, low blood pressure and history of disordered eating should discuss with a health professional if they wish to commence this diet. Overall, IF is equally as effective as any other weight management diet such as healthy eating and results are dependent on the individual.
3. Game Changers
The latest Netflix film that left many of us questioning our diets was 'Game Changers', which explores high performance athletes going on a plant-based diet and restricting animal-based proteins. There were many positive messages conveyed through this series such as including more high fibre varieties in our diets and reducing the amounts of meat. These main messages has been continuously encouraged by nutrition professionals even prior to this film. However, the series failed to address the risks of veganism and going fully plant-based, which can put individuals at risk of nutrient deficiencies.
The dietitians at Body Fusion breaks it down the film really well on their website (https://www.bodyfusion.com.au/blogbodyfusiondietitiansydney/2019/11/9/a-dietitians-response-to-the-game-changers-vegan-plant-based-diet-film).
4. Probiotics: Food sources and Pharmaceutical options
This article by The Conversation explains what probiotcs are: https://theconversation.com/probiotics-a-first-look-at-whats-going-on-in-the-gut-102621
The amount of research on the links between probiotics and our health has been more than ever. This is a good sign as we are more conscious about the types of food we have and the science behind our gut microbiome. Whilst this area of research is still developing, there has been substantial amount evidence supporting the benefits of probiotics on our overall health. We know that our gut is composed of microbiota or bacteria, which its population may vary depending on the individual. Factors such as diet, exercise, genetics and medications can influence our gut composition. In addition to a balanced diet including a variety of foods, probiotic sources such as yoghurt with live cultures, fermented food e.g. kimchi, kefir, miso are also recommended to maintain a healthy gut. Probiotic capsules containing live cultures are available at pharmacies. Overall, multi-strain probiotics have been found to show the most benefits over single strains. Whether you need them as part of a healthy lifestyle will vary per individual and may not work for everyone. Therefore it is important to discuss with a qualified health professional such as a Dietitian to determine whether you may benefit from it. Great resource here by International Scientific Association for Prebiotics and Probtiocs: https://isappscience.org/for-consumers/learn/probiotics/
How fermented foods could be harmful to your health?: https://theconversation.com/kombucha-kimchi-and-yogurt-how-fermented-foods-could-be-harmful-to-your-health-126131
5. Going back to basics: balance
Last year, our society was all about superfoods and supplements. This year, we placed our focus back to the basics - achieving a healthy diet that includes a wide variety of nutritious foods from the five food groups.
Cereal and grains, particularly high fibre varieties
Milk, yoghurt, cheese including non-animal based alternatives
Lean proteins including red meat, poultry, eggs and non-animal based varieties such as tofu, nuts and seeds