Health & Spirit

Nutrition News: Diets vs. Healthy Eating

Charlyn Fargo on

Oh, those headlines full of promises that this diet is the one that guarantees you will be 10 pounds lighter in just a week. We've all seen them, and there's a pull to try them in hopes that the promises might be true.

The truth? Diets don't work. Going on and off a diet is a recipe for disaster and may be harmful in the long run.

Here's the latest one: the "lemon detox" diet. It involves consuming just a lemon juice-based mixture for one or two weeks, with no solid foods. The diet aims to remove toxins and cleanse the body. However, scientists have found no evidence to support these claims, and the diet may be harmful in some cases.

This is primarily because the concept of detoxing does not align with how the body works. The idea of detoxing is to flush out harmful toxins. However, the human body naturally prevents this from happening and protects the body from toxins by removing them. This diet is highly restrictive and extremely low-calorie. Without a balanced diet, the body will not receive the supply of the nutrients and energy it needs to function correctly. This includes removing toxins and waste products.

Scientists say it is possible that a lemon detox diet causes weight loss because it involves extreme calorie restriction. One study found that a seven-day lemon detox diet led to a reduction in body fat for Korean women who were overweight. However, this is not a healthful way to lose weight. As with any form of extreme calorie restriction, resuming a normal diet will often lead to rapid weight gain.

Then there is the general concept of yo-yo dieting: losing weight for a short period and then regaining it. As if losing weight weren't hard enough, up to 80 percent of people who manage to lose more than 10 percent of their body weight end up regaining the weight within a year. Studies have suggested that yo-yo dieting raises the risk of mortality from any cause and can also lead to increased risk for heart disease.


The bottom line? There's no magic pill for weight loss, nor a magic diet. A healthy lifestyle plan such as USDA's MyPlate or the Mediterranean diet (which both focus on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean meat and dairy) is always the best idea. Don't cut out any food group, such as dairy, or any food source, such as carbohydrates. We need complex carbohydrates, healthy fats and protein -- in manageable amounts. Portion control is still the best answer, along with choosing foods high in vitamins and minerals that will give your body fuel to run efficiently.

Q and A

Q: Can the Mediterranean diet reduce risk for cardiovascular disease?

A: Following a Mediterranean-style diet may reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease by 25 percent compared to those who do not follow the diet, according to researchers. Using data from the 12-year-long Women's Health Study of nearly 26,000 women in their late 40s to early 60s, researchers associated a higher Mediterranean style diet intake with a 28 percent relative risk reduction in biomarkers associated with cardiovascular risk, including inflammation, glucose metabolism, insulin resistance and fat storage. Benefits to the heart were similar to the benefits from statins or other comparable mediations. The Mediterranean diet style focuses on lots of whole plant foods and good fats, red wine and nuts. You can enjoy cheese and yogurt, meat, fish and poultry, in smaller portions, while putting plant foods like vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, fruit and olive oil in the center of your plate.


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