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What is the best diet?

Updated: Jul 29, 2022

I get this question all the time from my clients. With the amount of available information about different diet plans, people get so overwhelmed. They simply can’t determine anymore what’s the best way to eat and most of the time just throw their hands up and change nothing about their nutrition. What diet plan should one follow? Keto? Plant-based? Mediterranean? Paleo? Blood type? Carnivore? Pescatarian? Atkins? GAPS? Raw? Body Ecology? Maybe a South Beach Diet? Oh my! The overwhelm is real! In this article, I am about to dispel the confusion and simplify the nutrition for you.

I recommend focusing on the general principles of healthy nutrition. I advise my clients to eat whole foods as opposed to processed packaged food-like products. Next, start with studying the Dirty Dozen & Clean Thirteen List which gets updated every year by the Environmental Working Group. Try to opt for organic produce when it comes to the dozen items that are heavily sprayed with pesticides, and you can totally save by purchasing conventional produce listed under Clean Thirteen. I also like to visit local farmer’s markets and ask the farmers about their farming practices. Some of them do not use any pesticides, but do not opt for organic certification because it’s just so expensive for small businesses. Next, I choose fresh pasture-raised eggs, wild-caught low mercury fish and grass-fed and grass-finished meats over conventional options. Grass-fed meats are significantly lower in saturated fat and higher in Omega 3 fatty acids as well as vitamins A, E, Bs and antioxidants. With that being said, I recommend meat protein consumption to be moderate, and instead focus on filling up your plate with tons of leafy green vegetables at every meal. Vegetables should serve as the core of any diet. Some starchy vegetables tend to raise blood sugar so it will be highly individual which ones are a better option for you. For a good source of protein and fiber, particularly when paired with fat, beans and legumes are a great choice. Additionally, most people do well with nuts and seeds for their source of healthy fat, protein and micronutrients. I advise soaking your legumes, grains, nuts and seeds before consuming for better absorption and minimizing digestive upset.

What about fruit?, you may ask. I save fruit for dessert as most fruits will spike your blood sugar. To blunt that response, one should consume fruit in combination with fats coming from nut butters or unsweetened yogurt and additional fiber source like chia seeds, hemp hearts or flax seeds. Berries are best tolerated by most people. I am also a big proponent of consuming anti-inflammatory foods, and that will be different for everyone. In general, dairy, gluten and sugar will inflame many people. Others will react to nightshades, oxalates, and lectins. I personalize a diet plan for each of my clients depending on tests’ results and their symptoms. However, if one does well with dairy, I always recommend it to be full fat, organic, fermented and preferably raw as it has intact enzymes for better digestion. For dairy alternatives, I offer great-tasting homemade recipes. To replace sugar, I suggest sweeteners like monkfruit, stevia, yacon syrup or raw local honey if well tolerated. For baking, I help my clients to switch from wheat flour to almond and coconut flours. For pasta lovers, I recommend zucchini and konjac noodles, hearts of palm, chickpea or lentil pasta. I also suggest riced cauliflower or broccoli in place of white rice.

Lastly, paying attention to healthy fats consumption makes a huge difference in your health status. Fats we consume are incorporated into cell membranes in all of our tissues of the body. This is extremely important because we want adequate flow of substances in and out of cells as too many rigid saturated fats lead to less flow, and too many flowing unsaturated fats lead to too much flow. Our brain health, cardiovascular health, nerve health, metabolism and inflammation levels are all dependent on the right fats consumption. Please ditch refined seed oils which have damaging linoleic acids and instead opt for healthy sources of fat like tahini, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, and avocado oil. I also track my clients’ omega 3 to omega 6 ratio to uncover and correct any imbalances.

In summary, I don’t endorse any particular diet because I recognize that each of us reacts differently to food, and that many factors influence what we eat. Everyone’s nutritional requirements, and how they handle specific foods can vary greatly. For example, although protein is packed with benefits, some people will have to watch their intake and limit it. This can be due to health conditions like kidney disease, impaired liver function, and protein metabolism disorders. Same goes for fats and carbohydrates, different health conditions will require certain adjustments. All in all, I emphasize the general guidelines I outlined above and then personalize nutrition to my clients’ specific needs based on the testing and tracking we do. Individual blood sugar response, food sensitivities and allergies, nutritional deficiencies, microbiome changes, activity and stress levels, metabolic flexibility, health status, and even different schedules will all dictate what diet adjustments will need to be made. Specific food groups may need to get restricted for a few months, but never long term, as it affects the nutritional status. If you already follow the guidelines outlined above, and need to further optimize your health, you may benefit from working with a nutritionist who can tailor your diet to your unique needs. Reach out, I’d be happy to help!


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