Dilemma over Different Diets -Zayed Shahnewaz
Nowadays people are talking about different kinds of diets because they are more concerned about their health as Covid-19 pandemic has hammered the whole world. It is true people, particularly those in the service sector, now think more about their workloads and thus eat a lot of processed foods and TV commercials influence them to do so. Similarly, early humans had to talk much about food but they had to be busy with hunting or farming. About 2.5 million years ago, homo sapiens used to be concerned about food. They realised that to survive here they need food.
So, food and diet was the first & foremost priority to early humans. The hunter-gatherers’ diet included various grasses, tubers, fruits, seeds and nuts. Then they started hunting. About 16,500 years ago, they started cooking their food in pots. Then people spread on Mother Earth and cultivated land based on the weather and soil condition in their areas. Thus the diet pattern has changed country to country, continent to continent and day by day. Trading is another reason that affects the diet pattern.
In modern civilisations, any type of food is available in any place of world, thanks to hectic export and import activities. But the diet pattern of a particular area depends on the climate, crops & vegetables availability and tradition. Now food has to be ready for eating as modern people have become too busy to cook food for them.
Processed foods, which includes trans and saturated fats, are very harmful for the human body. Thus in this modern era people are affected with different types of non-communicable diseases only for this type of unhealthy diets. Obesity is one of the mooted health issues now. According to WHO in 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults aged 18 years and older were overweight. Of these over 650 million adults were obese. Overall, about 13 per cent of the world’s adult population were obese in 2016. The worldwide prevalence of obesity nearly tripled between 1975 and 2016. In 2019, an estimated 38.2 million children under the age of 5 years were overweight or obese.
Once considered a high-income country problem, overweight and obesity are now on the rise in low- and middle-income countries, particularly in urban settings. Obesity now threatens the process of building a healthy society. So people, who are obese or at risk of it, are trying to follow a diet to get rid of it. Every day practically in every corner of the globe, people are searching for the best way to maintain a healthy weight. And they’re spending a lot of money in the process. In the United States alone, people spend over billions of dollars each year to lose weight. But no matter how much time you spend on the treadmill, one of the key components of weight loss is dieting. And depending on where you live, there are lots of ideas about the best things to eat to stay slim and healthy.
There are many types of diets across the world. In the era of modernisation, people can easily get any type of diet plan from any place of the world which may be helpful for them. Doctors and dietitians also give advice on how to reduce body weight and get a fit body. Though this advice varies from time to time. Before choosing any suitable diet, first we have to know how many diets are followed across the world. Here are some healthiest diets to check out:
A Mediterranean diet incorporates the traditional healthy living habits of people from countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, including France, Greece, Turkey, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Palestine etc. The Mediterranean diet varies by country and region, so it has a range of definitions. But in general, it’s high in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, grains, fish, and unsaturated fats such as olive oil. It usually includes a low intake of meat and dairy foods. The Mediterranean diet has been linked with good health, including a healthier heart. The disadvantages are it may be more expensive to follow, cooking fresh food takes time and this diet is not for weight loss.
The Nordic diet emphasises the foods of the Nordic countries. It’s similar to the Mediterranean diet and heavily emphasises plant foods and sea-foods. The Nordic diet is a way of eating that focuses on locally-sourced foods in the Nordic countries — Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland. The Nordic diet attaches importance to traditional, sustainable, and locally sourced foods, with a heavy focus on those considered healthy. Nordic diet staples include whole-grain cereals such as rye, barley, and oats, berries and other fruits, vegetables (especially cabbage and root vegetables like potatoes and carrots), fatty fish such as salmon and legumes (beans and peas). The Nordic diet also emphasises high-quality carbohydrates: cereals, crackers, and breads made with whole-grain barley, oats, and rye. Americans may be familiar with Swedish wasa crispbreads, most of which are made with whole grains. These whole-grain foods provide a wealth of heart-protecting nutrients, including fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. The WHO found that both Mediterranean and Nordic diets reduced risk of cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. The diet could also contribute to weight loss. In one study in 147 obese people in Denmark instructed not to restrict calories, those on a Nordic diet lost 10.4 pounds (4.7 kg), while those eating a typical Danish diet lost only 3.3 pounds (1.5 kg). But it has some limitations. The Nordic diet appears to be effective for short-term weight loss. So for weight loss, a Nordic diet is not a good solution.
Intermittent fasting is an eating plan that switches between fasting and eating on a regular schedule. Methods of intermittent fasting include alternate-day fasting, periodic fasting, and daily time-restricted feeding. Our bodies have evolved to be able to go without food for many hours, or even several days or longer. There are different plans for intermittent fasting.
One is 16/8 fasting means eating for eight hours and fasting for 16. For example, some people opt to skip breakfast and fast from noon to 8 pm., while others avoid eating late and stick to a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule.
In 5:2 method five days per week, you eat normally and don’t restrict calories. Then, on the other two days of the week, you reduce your calorie intake to one-quarter of your daily needs. That means if you fast for two days in a week, its called 5:2 method. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), also suggested to fast twice a week. It’s a sunnah. These two are the most popular intermittent fasting methods. This diet is very helpful for weight loss. In a review of studies, intermittent fasting was shown to cause 3–8 per cent weight loss over 3–24 weeks, which is a significantly greater percentage than other methods.
Plant-based diets may help you lose weight. Vegetarianism and veganism are two popular versions, which restrict animal products for health, ethical, etc reasons. These two have a little difference. Vegetarians avoid only meat and fish in their diet while the vegan diet takes it a step further by restricting all animal products, as well as animal-derived products like dairy, gelatin, honey, whey, casein, and albumin. Research shows that plant-based diets are effective for weight loss. A review of 12 studies including 1,151 participants found that people on a plant-based diet lost an average of 2 kg more than those who included animal products and people who followed a vegan diet lost an average of 2.5 kg more than people not eating a plant-based diet. Though plant-based diets are healthy, they can restrict important nutrients that are typically found in animal products, such as iron, vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acid.
The Paleolithic diet, Paleo diet, caveman diet, or stone-age diet is a diet consisting of foods thought by its proponents to mirror those eaten by humans during the Paleolithic era. The diet avoids processed food and typically includes vegetables, fruits, nuts, roots and meats and excludes dairy products, grains, sugar, legumes, processed oils, alcohol and coffee. This diet is helpful for weight loss, better bp control, lowers TG etc. There are some disadvantages too. This diet is expensive and it lowers glucose in the body that can cause hypoglycemia. It restricts several nutritious food groups, including legumes, whole grains and dairy.
Low-carb diets or Keto diet
The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, adequate-protein but low-carbohydrate diet. The diet forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates. This is one of the most popular dietary habits nowadays to lose body weight. How does Keto Diet works actually? When you eat less than 50 grams of carbs a day, your body eventually runs out of fuel (blood sugar) it can use quickly. This typically takes 3 to 4 days. Then you’ll start breaking down protein and fat for energy, which can make you lose weight. This is called ketosis. It’s important to note that the ketogenic diet is a short-term diet that focuses on weight loss rather than the pursuit of health benefits. This diet suggests avoiding carb-based foods like grains, sugars, legumes, rice, potatoes, candy, juice, and even most fruits. Protein and fat based foods are taken only. A ketogenic diet may provide many health benefits, especially with metabolic, neurological, or insulin-related diseases. Despite these benefits, Keto Diet has some negative impacts on the human body, if pursued for a long time.
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), 45-65 per cent of the total calories in our normal diet should come from carbohydrates. The calculation is a little straightforward; If you need 2000 calories daily, then you need to eat 900 to 1300 calories i.e. 225 grams to 325 grams of carbohydrates. And for those who exercise or walk, there is another calculation: 30-60 grams of carbs per hour. There is no benefit in eating more carbs than this because the carbohydrate oxidation rate does not increase anymore. However, those who eat soft or juicy fruits such as glucose / fructose during physical activity can increase their carbohydrate oxidation rate to a maximum of 105 g / hr. The Keto Diet is said to take 5-10 per cent of the total caloric requirement from carbs, 60 per cent from fat, and 20-25 per cent from protein. Basically carb limited i.e. 100-200 calories or 25-50 grams of carbohydrates should be eaten if your energy requirement is 2000 calories daily. How will your body work by eating so little carbs? This means that the main energy giver of the body will no longer have carbs. Then the remaining 1800 calories will come from breaking down fat. People who give keto diet charts often calculate using food composition tables. But what is not on the food composition table is the process of digestion and absorption of food. About 95 per cent of the fat in our diet is triglycerides (TG). TG cannot be absorbed directly into the blood, it has to be broken down in the digestive tract and an enzyme called lipase does this breaking down. Interestingly, one of the sources of lipase in the diet is cereals, colorful vegetables and fruits. However, most of the natural enzymes in Bangladesh are wasted due to overheating. Cells in our mouth, stomach and pancreas and intestines can make lipase. This enzyme deficiency is not uncommon for carbohydrate restriction because most people’s digestive systems are not in the optimum state for digesting high levels of fat due to long-term habituation to sugar and carbohydrate foods. As a result, fat absorption may not be as expected. Therefore, even if the Keto Diet chart is matched, in reality, the calories of keto dieters may be reduced. Therefore, it is advisable to take enzyme supplements.
Now let’s talk about how the body’s main metabolic system “glucose homeostasis”. It is maintaining the balance of glucose levels in the blood and brain. The brain cannot work without glucose. The brain loses its function due to constant lack of energy and goes into a coma, which can lead to death. So it is easy to guess why it is important to maintain a minimum glucose levels in the blood and brain. Along with these, several problems can hamper the homeostasis of body functions.
All of these diets are mainly helpful for those who want to fight out obesity. If anyone is underweight and wants to gain weight, they should eat healthy foods which include a large amount of protein and dietary fibers. Meal size and daily meal servings can be increased. Actually our body is a lot like a machine. Individual person has individual body needs. If anyone tries to reduce or gain body weight, they should take advice from professionals. People make the common mistake that they go for online diet charts which are available in google or Youtube. These generalised dietary patterns may be helpful sometimes but these can also be harmful if it doesn’t go with your body properly. However, try to eat fresh, do some exercise, grab some dietary fiber regularly and choose a suitable diet that will go with your body.