The great Diet Confusion

*revised …20.06.2018

Are you confused?
Actually there is a book with that title, it probably wouldn’t help you a lot, as it basically explained just another diet. That book was published in the seventies; I wonder how many new “successful diets” have come out with being the one and only since then?

It is not that there is something wrong with being constantly adviced to follow a new diet; obviously, scientific knowledge is constantly renewed, and with that comes new diet and nutrition information.

My interest in nutrition started over 40 years ago. What was the trigger for my sudden interest; it was  pain, lots of stomach pain.

An x-ray and barium meal confirmed stomach ulcers, my good Dr. prescribed Tagamet (reducing acid), and believe it or not, he recommended plenty of milk and wheat products like noodles.

I never was a fan of milk, but I tried it, lots of noodles in milk, didn’t help, problem got worse, next diagnosis “bleeding stomach ulcer”, and hospital admission.

Stop, yes, stop right here, because I didn’t go, on that fatal day, bent over in pain, I met someone who told me to go on a Macrobiotic Diet. His direct advice was to stay 6 weeks on brown rice with a few veggies. That suited me well, because I had no idea about cooking at all, but I managed the rice and veggie stir ups. His final advice was, to chew, chew and chew again. My pain subsided in a few days, 6 weeks later, I had another x-ray, no sign of any ulcer, it was gone, and a few kilos as well.

I stayed on that diet, became an expert at it, but studied more nutrition and natural therapies as well.

Here is what I did wrong the first 2 years with my new found “superior” knowledge; I tried to convince everyone to adopt the macrobiotic diet.

Do I still recommend the macrobiotic diet? Hardly ever, the main reason for me is that I generally believe in a more balanced diet with lots of variety.

The second reason is, these days, I don’t believe the macrobiotic diet principles were the main reason for my recovery. I think, it was more what I didn’t eat, instead of what I was eating, which cured my ulcers.

Guess what, the same thing is still going on everyday. People find a diet, feel better, and they are convinced that it is the perfect diet for everyone. Some people get extremely attached to their diet knowledge and defend it at all cost.

Why is that happening, I am sure  everyone knows that we are all different, with different metabolism, genetic make up, upbringing, health problems, even different digestive capabilities, including different blood groups. On top of that, you may have certain beliefs, which stop you from eating certain food items, or even far more common, the availability to good food.

Over the last 40 years I have recommend a host of diets, however, most of those diets were recommended on a personal basis. Even so, I must have made many assumptions of what is right or wrong for someone, but on the positive side, if a patient trusts you and stays with you, they will come back to you, giving you a chance to fine tune the first recommendations.

How can anyone know what diet to follow?

At the time of writing, (October 2014) a number of diets seem to be in vogue, the Paleo Diet is one of them.

Is the Paleo Diet the one for all, I don’t think so, but like most diets, it will be suitable and healthy for a large group of people.
Obviously cutting out all grains, has an advantage for people who have problems with grain digestion, and admittedly, because of general over consumption of grains, a lot of people would benefit by cutting grains out of their diet. Actually, one of the main advice Naturopaths have given for the last 30 years, is to cut out, or cut down on Wheat and refined grain products.

It’s amazing of how many people have common digestive problems associated with grains, or specifically gluten, unfortunately not many medical Doctors can advice on diet principles or shortfalls.

Grains or no grains, is not the only confusion within the field of nutrition; it may be even a minor one. Over-consumption of anything may be a much greater problem, esp. over-consumption of “processed and refined food products”.

How can we end the confusion?

We only can end it to a minor general degree.

My recommendation is: “Improve your Diet” … full stop.

We need to recognize, that we are all on a diet already, it maybe a junk food diet, a fruitarian diet, or anything in between, but we are certainly on a Diet.

You don’t have to go onto a diet, you simply improve yours.

As soon as you improve your diet, something will change within your system, that change alone can bring on a profound healing. Often, I found, it is not what type of diet you adopt, as long as there is a noticeable diet change, your body will respond.

In most cases the response will be positive, if not, you will have learned quickly what is not good for you.

What is the first change, people should go for?

  1. Cut out as much as possible processed food, and eat only fresh food prepared by you.
  2. Cut out any extra sugar and ordinary salt.

You will be left with a “life” food diet, and it should include as much variety as possible, vegetables, some fruits, some meat, some grains, seeds and nuts, and some cold pressed oils.

Further improvement of your diet will be individual improvement.

Most people have some allergies or food sensitivities. These reaction causing food items may need to be cut out or put on rotation.

If you have certain health problems, to an experience Holistic Practitioner, those problems may indicate what or what not to eat, or further more, what to do to enhance certain body functions.

Most other food choices are individual choices.

If you like to be a vegetarian, a diet based on meat will never work for you.

If you are a meat eater, and you feel better on meat, to become a vegetarian equally will be unbecoming.

I am not a scientist, and can’t validate it, but there is some evidence that even our blood type can indicate what type of food is most suitable for the individual. It may be questionable if a blood type A will do well on meat based diets. Or the other way, a blood type O, could have problems becoming a vegetarian.

But wait … there is more …

Just imagine, unbeknown to you, you are reacting to certain natural chemicals in food. The only thing you may know is that you have certain health problems.

You may be sensitive to salicylate acid, in which case you can’t eat certain vegetables, fruit and spices, but you will be OK on meat.

The list of food sensitivities is endless, meaning you could react to absolute anything and everything.

Food sensitivity is a problem, which seems to get worse.

Some people think this is because of the added chemicals in food, or the way food is grown and produced.

Other people think, it is because we have over prescribed medication, esp Antibiotics, and we have become too hygienic, which leaves our immune system run idle, attacking harmless substances instead of possible low risk bacteria.

One bacterium by example, which is causing stomach Ulcers, has now been recognized as a possible agent to treat allergies and food sensitivities. Scientists work on a variation of Helicobacter that is active, but does not cause stomach ulcers, in order to moderate the immune system, stopping it from over-reacting. It probably will be prescribed within a Probiotic food supplement in the future.

The main aspect of changing ones diet is for better health, in that way, you simply work on in improving your diet and nutritional status, eliminating rubbish will be always the first step.

The second aspect to change a diet is because of various health problems. This is, where it gets critical, and my recommendation is to seek a holistic practitioner to guide you through that process.

This second aspect is also the time when you are most vulnerable to suggestion. Just imagine for one week you listen to different people, who are all convinced their diet is the right one for you.

On the Monday you become a raw food eater, Tuesday you are convinced by the Paleo Diet, but wait, here comes Wednesday with the FODMAP diet, and Thursday with the Zone Diet, Friday .. yes .. why not, the Macrobiotic Diet, Saturday the Atkins Diet and here comes Sunday and you finally settle on the Mediterranean Diet.

Once again, no need for confusion, most proper diets are designed on specific principles, and all of these diets will be actually better than a junk food diet, or a “normal” diet with too much wheat products, sugar, salt and processed food.

Therefore it finally comes down to you and your system, and your inherent health problems, to work out your own most suitable “nutrient rich diet” .

Should you listen to friends? Probably not, I suggest to see a Nutritionist or Naturopath.

Also, be careful with certain organizations, if there is a possibility of biased, think twice about their advice. Certain “ticks” for health on products may be misleading as well, if you find a “Health tick” on a processed food item, make sure to read the label, some health ticks may not represent the whole aspect of health. Remember, Carbohydrate figures on Nutritional Information food labels is just a fancy word for “sugar”, and don’t be fooled by artificial sweetener either, try to cut out the lot.

Most of the food labels use marketing language,  words like Natural don’t mean anything. If you look for an Organic product, makes sure it is a 100% organic and has an Organic certification stamp on it.

… and to sum it all up:  ” IF IN DOUBT, CUT IT OUT “

All in good Health, Dieter L. – useNature Editor

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