FABULOUSLY HEALTHY OR HEALTH FAD?
Dr. Janet Pritchard of McMaster University’s School of Interdisciplinary Science and Kinesiology explains the science (or lack thereof ) behind some recent food trends.
Raw food diet: A plant-based diet consisting of uncooked or unprocessed foods, such as fruits vegetables, seeds and nuts.
Good: One study published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2005 showed that people who consumed a raw diet for at least 24 months had lower bad (LDL) cholesterol and higher good (HDL) cholesterol, which may be beneficial for heart health.
Not-so-good: People who follow a raw food diet are at higher risk of deficiencies in vitamin B-12 and protein, which are needed for blood cells and skeletal muscle health, respectively. (Journal of Nutrition, 2005)
Paleo diet: Foods available during the Stone Age: fruit, vegetables, lean meats, poultry, fish, nuts and seeds.
Good: A 2016 research review in the Australian Family Physician journal showed the Paleo diet can result in weight loss and improvements in blood sugar and blood pressure. Not-so-good: A 2014 study found that although people who follow the Paleo diet lose more weight at six months compared to people following a conventional diet, the weight loss is not sustained for two years on the diet. Also, avoiding dairy can result in calcium deficiency and osteoporosis.
Juice cleanse: Consuming a diet mainly consisting of fruit and vegetable juice, sometimes for an extended period of time.
Good: Juices that contain nutrients such as folic acid, antioxidant vitamins and carotenoids may have a beneficial effect on the health of blood vessels, according to a review in Proceedings of the Nutrition Society in 2009. But the impact of juice cleanses alone on heart health has not been studied.
Not-so-good: There is no scientific evidence supporting claims that juice cleanses lead to sustained weight loss or removal of toxins from the body. People who try juice cleanses may experience cramping, bloating and a lack of energy, and any weight lost during the juice cleanse will likely be gained back when a normal diet is readopted.