Investigating Diet Trends

With chronic conditions on the rise—heart disease, cancer, and diabetes—many Americans look to diets for prevention and management of illness as well as general weight loss.

 

Popular Diets

There is an ever-growing list of dietary approaches on the market. A few of the most popular diets include the following (in alphabetical order):

  • Atkins
  • DASH
  • Ornish
  • South Beach

 

Diet Definitions

Atkins[1]

Atkins is a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet promoting low-starch vegetables, seafood, meat, poultry, eggs, animal and vegetable fats, artificial sweeteners (sucralose, saccharine, and stevia), whole-to-moderate-fat dairy, and no-calorie beverages. Starchy vegetables (like potatoes) and fruit are restricted or limited, especially in the initial phases of the plan.

DASH[2]

DASH is a low-fat, high-fiber, calorie-restricted diet rich in fruits and vegetables, reduced-fat dairy, nuts, beans, seeds, whole grains, lean meats, poultry, and fish.

Ornish[3]

Ornish is a very-low-fat, plant-based diet with limited carbohydrates (sugar, alcohol), no added fats/oils, no or moderate salt, and no or low caffeine intake. The plan permits fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, soy products, nonfat dairy, egg whites, and foods containing omega 3 fatty acids and suggests accompanying the diet with a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement containing B-12 and fish oil (based on physician recommendations).

South Beach[4]

South Beach is a low-carbohydrate diet. Unlike Atkins, South Beach is also low in saturated fat. The initial phase of the plan is gluten-free permitting lean proteins, low-starch vegetables, and limited fats/oils. Unprocessed carbohydrates, low refined sugar, whole grains, fruit, and additional vegetables are gradually introduced.

 

Diet Benefits and Risks

 Whereas the dietary approaches resulted in relative weight loss across the board, there are still additional benefits and risks to consider before making a lifestyle change.

 

Atkins

Low-carbohydrate diets like Atkins have proven difficult to adhere to long-term.[5] In a comparison of popular weight loss plans, Atkins scored the lowest on the Alternate Healthy Eating Index (AHEI) because it was the lowest in fruit and cereal fiber and highest in red meat and trans-fat, the combination of which may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.[6]

DASH

A low-fat diet like DASH not only manages weight but reduces the risk of chronic disease. In one study, participants on a 30% fat diet showed sustained weight loss and reduced cardiovascular disease risk factors.[7]

Ornish

Ornish scored among the highest on the AHEI for maximizing weight loss and cardiovascular disease prevention.[8] However, a very-low-fat diet like Ornish (<20% fat diet) may be difficult to sustain over time.[9]

South Beach

A low-carbohydrate diet that is also low in saturated fat like South Beach have proven effective in not only lowering weight but also triglyceride levels.[10] Evidence shows that an increase in triglyceride levels increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.[11]

 

Conclusion

New dietary approaches are flooding the market. Weigh (pun intended) the benefits and risks and consult your physician or other healthcare professional before adopting a new dietary approach to determine if it is the right fit for you.

Stay tuned for future posts featuring different dietary approaches!

 

References:

[1] Atkins: Low carb diet program and weight loss plan. Accessed at https://www.atkins.com/.

[2] The Dash diet eating plan. Accessed at http://dashdiet.org/default.asp.

[3] Ornish lifestyle medicine. Accessed at https://www.ornish.com/proven-program/nutrition/.

[4] South Beach diet. Accessed at http://www.southbeachdiet.com/home/index.jsp.

[5] MA Y, Pagoto SL, Griffith JA, et al. A Dietary Quality Comparison of Popular Weight-Loss Plans. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2007;107(10):1786-1791. doi:10.1016/j.jada.2007.07.013.

[6] MA Y, Pagoto SL, Griffith JA, et al. A Dietary Quality Comparison of Popular Weight-Loss Plans. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2007;107(10):1786-1791. doi:10.1016/j.jada.2007.07.013.

[7] MA Y, Pagoto SL, Griffith JA, et al. A Dietary Quality Comparison of Popular Weight-Loss Plans. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2007;107(10):1786-1791. doi:10.1016/j.jada.2007.07.013.

[8] MA Y, Pagoto SL, Griffith JA, et al. A Dietary Quality Comparison of Popular Weight-Loss Plans. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2007;107(10):1786-1791. doi:10.1016/j.jada.2007.07.013.

[9] MA Y, Pagoto SL, Griffith JA, et al. A Dietary Quality Comparison of Popular Weight-Loss Plans. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2007;107(10):1786-1791. doi:10.1016/j.jada.2007.07.013.

[10] Fields H, Ruddy B, Wallace MR, Shah A, and Millstine D. Are Low-Carbohydrate Diets Safe and Effective? The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, December 2016, Vol. 116, 788-793. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2016.154.

[11] Harchaoui KE., Visser M., Kastelein JJ., Stroes E., Dallinga-Thie G. Triglycerides and Cardiovascular Risk. Current Cardiology Reviews. 2009;5(3):216-222. doi:10.2174/157340309788970315.

Exploring Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Exploring Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Nearly 40% of adults and 12% of children in the U.S. use non-traditional therapies.[1] This group of non-mainstream health care approaches is referred to as Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). Let’s explore some CAM therapies.

Common and Growing CAM Therapies

There is an endless list of healthcare approaches categorized as CAM. Some of the most common CAM therapies in the U.S.—as well as those growing in popularity—include the following (in alphabetical order):

  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic
  • Massage
  • Meditation
  • Yoga

CAM Therapy Definitions

Acupuncture

Acupuncture involves stimulating specific points on the body by inserting small, solid needles into the skin. The therapy is performed by practitioners—acupuncturists—specifically-trained in medical traditions from China, Japan, Korea, and other countries.

Chiropractic

Chiropractic involves the adjustment of the spine and joints to influence the body’s nervous system. Doctors of chiropractic—chiropractors or chiropractic physicians—are highly-trained to perform specific adjustments by-hand and using non-invasive instruments.

Massage

Massage involves rubbing or kneading soft tissues in the body—including muscles, fascia (tissue surrounding muscle), tendons (tissue attaching muscle to bone), and ligaments (tissue connecting bones). Massage is performed by trained massage therapists.

Meditation

Meditation involves focus to suspend the flow of thoughts in the mind and induce a mode of consciousness. Meditation is a self-practice. Guided meditation is meditation in response to guidance provided by a trained practitioner or teacher.

Yoga

Yoga involves specific body postures, breath control, and meditation to influence the nervous system and strengthen the body. Yoga is a self-practice. Guided yoga practice is yoga in response to guidance and instruction provided by a trained yoga teacher.

 

CAM Therapy Uses and Benefits

CAM therapies are frequently used to manage, reduce, or eliminate pain, anxiety, and insomnia in both adults and children.[2]

 

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is effective for treating chronic pain—such as low-back pain, neck pain, and osteoarthritis/knee pain—as well as tension and migraine headaches. There are few reported complications from using acupuncture when administered by a qualified practitioner, and the FDA regulates acupuncture requiring that needles be sterile, nontoxic, and for single-use.[3]

Chiropractic

The chiropractic adjustment influences the body’s natural defense mechanisms via the nervous system to reduce pain and improve health. It is widely used to treat back and neck pain, muscle spasm, and other injuries and traumas, such as those sustained from car or work accidents, falls, and sports.

Massage

Massage enhances the function of the body’s tissues and promotes relaxation and wellbeing, making this therapy effective for treating pain symptoms associated with non-specific low-back and neck pain, pregnancy and labor, osteoarthritis of the knee, and cancer as well as reducing depression.[4] Precautions or restrictions should be exercised when using massage therapy to treat cancer and pregnancy.

Meditation

Meditation promotes relaxation, mental calmness, and psychological balance. Evidence shows it may reduce blood pressure, anxiety, depression, insomnia and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and ulcerative colitis.[5]

Yoga

Yoga calms the nervous system and balances body, mind, and spirit. Yoga can reduce low-back pain, stress, heart rate and blood pressure, anxiety, depression, and insomnia as well as improve function, strength, and flexibility.[6] Poses should be adapted when necessary.

 

Conclusion

CAM therapies are growing in use indicating that the American people find value in these traditionally non-traditional healthcare approaches, whether the benefits are backed by research or otherwise. You should consult your physician or other healthcare professional before incorporating these or other healthcare approaches into your lifestyle to determine if they are right for your needs.

Stay tuned for future posts featuring different healthcare approaches!

 

References:

[1] Barnes PM, Bloom B, Nahin RL. Complementary and alternative medicine use among adults and children: United States, 2007. National health statistics reports; no 12. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2008.

[2] Barnes PM, Bloom B, Nahin RL. Complementary and alternative medicine use among adults and children: United States, 2007. National health statistics reports; no 12. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2008.

[3] Acupuncture: In depth. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Accessed at https://nccih.nih.gov/health/acupuncture/introduction#hed3.

[4] Massage therapy for heath purposes. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Accessed at https://nccih.nih.gov/health/massage/massageintroduction.htm.

[5] Meditation: In depth. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Accessed at https://nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation/overview.htm#hed5.

[6] Yoga: In depth. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Accessed at https://nccih.nih.gov/health/yoga/introduction.htm#hed2.

Welcome!

Find Health Answers is dedicated to enhancing health and wellbeing by providing simple, evidence-based content and answers to relevant health and wellness issues.

We invite questions and comments. Bear in mind that we do not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Rather, we promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics by addressing reader questions and the latest news and research in our articles.

Our content is relevant and data-driven. Information is gathered from reputable sources—including research publications and expert interviews—streamlined, and presented in a clear and concise format.

We believe knowledge is power and we give our users information and tools empowering them to make mindful decisions.

We look forward to being the #1 source for fact-based content and answers to burning health and wellness issues!