Nutrition has exploded onto the health and wellness market in recent years. It is a science which explores the interaction between the nutrients and components of our food and our body. What we eat directly influences our growth, development, reproductive, health and disease states.
But what should we be eating? With so many different nutrition fads out there, it’s often hard to distinguish between fad and fact. So our nutrition expert Leanne had a look at four of the big ones to see if they actually work!
The Ketogenic Diet
The ketogenic diet or keto diet is best described as a high-fat, low carbohydrate diet. It has often been used in medicine to control conditions such as epilepsy, but more recently it has become a nutrition craze for weight loss. The ketogenic diet turns your body into a fat-burning machine.
This diet has been shown to be effective at controlling hunger and can improve body weight through the improvement of fat metabolism. As a result, the diet has been used to control type II diabetes in some individuals because often weight loss is the earliest target for the management of the disease.
More, moderate, minimum: how to scale a keto diet
Fat The keto diet is traditionally high fat, although this concerns only healthier, unsaturated fats.
Some good sources of healthy fats in the ketogenic diet include:
- Leafy green
Protein You should keep your protein intake at moderate levels. Women should aim for 40-50g per day while men should eat 50-60g per day while following a ketogenic diet.
Remember, foods such as cheese and nuts are deceivingly high in protein, so you should monitor the amount you eat during the day.
Carbohydrates Your carbohydrate intake should be low, usually less than 50g per day. The aim of a ketogenic diet is to allow body fat to be burnt for energy by keeping insulin levels low, a process known as ketosis.
By keeping your carbohydrate consumption to a minimum, your insulin levels will also remain low.
The Green Tea Craze
After water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world. It originated in southwest China where it was first used as a medicinal drink, and has been around for centuries.
Today, herbal and detox teas are believed to have medicinal properties and have numerous health benefits. If you walk down the aisle of your local supermarket or health food shop, there are a vast array of teas claiming to treat anything from snoring to bloating.
But there is some scientific evidence behind certain herbal teas which shows that theycan have real health benefits.
Green tea has been shown to have potential as both an anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant. It’s also been used to treat cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease and has even been used to enhance exercise performance.
Green tea is packed full of catechin, polyphenols and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a powerful antioxidant. EGCG is thought to prevent cancer cells from growing and kills them without harming other healthy, body tissues. EGCG and other antioxidants present in green tea have other benefits too, including:
- Lowering cholesterol levels
- Preventing abnormal blood clots from forming
- Regulating fats
- Reactivating dying skin cells
You should drink your green tea warm, not boiling hot, as these are the optimal conditions for retaining the antioxidants. Be careful not to drink your green tea with an iron-rich meal as tea contains tannins which can interfere with the absorption of iron.
There has been a considerable shift in our diets in recent years. In years gone by, acquiring protein meant eating fish and meat, but now we are looking for more sustainable sources, including plant-proteins.
The rise of veganism and vegetarianism has no doubt helped this shift, but many of us are also looking to cut down on our meat consumption, becoming flexitarians!
There are other, more environmental reasons why turning to plant proteins should be more than just a fad. Agriculture plays a big part in global warming; around 15% of all emissions are as a result of agriculture and more than half of this is caused by livestock.
Plant protein may even be better for us than animal protein sources. In one study, plant protein was associated with a lower risk of mortality whereas a high animal protein intake was associated with increased cardiovascular mortality. Therefore, it could be important where your protein sources are coming from. Substituting processed meat with plant protein is a much healthier option and linked to a lower mortality risk.
If you’re feeling really adventurous when it comes to your diet, why not opt for insects. Yes, you read that correctly.
Insects and insect-based foods are being marketed as a sustainable food source high in fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals. They have low space requirements and emit fewer greenhouse gases than livestock, making them a sustainable alternative food source for the future.
Whether conventional or not, these nutrition fads really do have some promising health benefits. Whilst we’re not saying that you should chow down on beetles and bugs for your next post-workout meal, what could be dismissed as mere fads sometimes have more substance to them. Keeping your diet varied and diverse is an important part of leading a healthy lifestyle, and experimenting with new routines could open up a whole new nutritional world.
- Akhtar, Y and Isman, M, B. (2018). Insects as an Alternative Protein. Proteins in Food Processing (Second Edition).
- Azar, S, T et al. (2016). Benefits of Ketogenic Diet for Management of Type Two Diabetes: A Review. Obesity and Eating Disorders: 2(2.22).
- Paoli, A. (2014). Ketogenic Diet for Obesity: Friend or Foe? International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health: 11, pp 2092-2107.
- Roberts, J, D et al. (2015). The Effect of a Decaffeinated Green Tea Extract Formula on Fat Oxidation, Body Composition and Exercise Performance. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition: 12(1).
- Sinija, V, R and Mishra, H, N. (2008). Green Tea: Health Benefits. Journal of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine: 17(4), pp 232-242.
- Song, M et al. (2016). Association of Animal and Plant Protein Intake with All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality. JAMA Internal Medicine: 176(10), pp 1453-1463.