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The Lifestyle Diet

By: Dr. Janice Piro, DC, DABCI & Dr. Natalie Regalado, DC

 

A lifestyle diet is a set of food choice guidelines meant to be followed for the long-term, as opposed to a temporary program for either cleansing or rapid weight loss.  Taking up a healthy lifestyle diet is the most important factor in improving your long-term health.

At Piro Clinic of Natural Medicine, we have put together “Guidelines for a Healthy Diet” which may be accessed in it’s entirety here.  Here are some of its highlights.  

Fats. Probably the most common healthy diet mistake made is to favor low- or non-fat foods and meals.  This false information has been propagated since the 1980’s. We, as well as many prominent professionals in the natural health arena, feel this practice has led to much of the increase we are seeing in chronic health diseases today, especially when hormone imbalances is a part of the cause. Healthy, unprocessed, unheated oils and fats are an integral part of your diet.  They are anti-inflammatory and aid in the healthy integrity of every cell membrane.  They are also very satiating.  Choose extra-virgin olive oil, organic butter, and coconut oil primarily. Peanut and sesame oils can be used secondarily. Avoid all vegetable oils, hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils and fats.

Carbohydrates should come mostly from fruits and vegetables.  Stay away from refined sugar and white flour including pasta. All breads using gluten-containing flours (wheat, rye, barley and most oats), other than sprouted grain breads like the Ezekiel brand, should be avoided. Use natural sweeteners like Stevia, Xylitol, organic Sucanat and Rapadura brand sparingly.

Protein. In general, the less legs it has and the smaller it is, the better it is for you. Buy organic to avoid hormones and chemicals added to the animal’s feed. Eat grass-fed beef and wild fish and avoid grain-fed beef and farm-raised fish.  Organic eggs are a perfect food. They do not contribute to high cholesterol, another “common knowledge” myth.  Only consume organic dairy and very sparingly.  Raw, organic dairy is preferable.

Chemicals in food should be strictly avoided.  Our rule of thumb: if it is packaged, canned, or boxed, don’t eat it.  Commercial vegetables and fruits, besides being laden with pesticides, contain anywhere from 33-66% less nutrition due to being grown in depleted soil.  It may be better to buy frozen organic over fresh commercial produce.  There is a product called Veggie Wash that safely removes pesticides, waxes and chemicals from produce, but of course it cannot remove any chemicals that have been grown into the plant.

We often get asked about specific diets that are promoted to the public.  Although this is not to be considered an all-inclusive list, here are some of the popular lifestyle diets we can endorse to a greater or lesser degree. 

1.  The Paleo Diet is our favorite for most people.  It eliminates dairy, gluten, sugar and legumes.  Dairy and gluten especially have been implicated in a multitude of chronic diseases.  As these are removed from the diet, we often see blood lab tests improve for inflammation (as well as others), and a variety of symptoms disappear.  Further, people see a decrease in weight and body measurements.

2.  Clean Eating advocates small, frequent meals comprised exclusively of whole foods.  Meals always include protein and complex (low glycemic) carbohydrates. This is the diet choice of many high-performance athletes and bodybuilders.   It helps them to achieve their fitness goals.  There is a magazine by the same title dedicated to this diet complete with wonderful recipes.

3.  The Mediterranean Diet emphasizes whole foods and healthy fats such as extra-virgin olive oil. Recipes are typically high in fiber and antioxidants.  Stay away from fried foods and opt instead for steamed, baked, or raw.

4.  The Low Glycemic Index Diet is a good option for anyone with food cravings, low energy, and/or poor sleep. The glycemic index of a food is a measure of how much the body needs to handle the sugar in the food – the lower it is, the better.  Foods with a high glycemic index stress the endocrine functions that stabilize blood sugar and often exacerbate any other health problems.  Further, blood sugar instability is a main reason for weight gain.

5.  The Blood Type Diet works very well for about 50% of the people who try it.  Because all four of the diets in Dr. D’Adamo’s book are relatively good diets, it is worth looking into. 

6.  Low Carbohydrate Diets, including South Beach Diet, Protein Power, and the Atkins Diet, can be powerful, health-promoting diets when followed correctly.  However, sometimes these diets do not make a clear distinction between healthy fats and toxic fats.  They also promote many protein bars that use chemical sweeteners and preservatives.  In using these diets, it is wise to stick to eating real food and stay away from the food bars. 

7.  Weight Watchers uses a convenient points-system that guides dieters towards foods that are more nutrient-dense and helps them avoid foods with empty calories.  This system is very good for people who tend to over-eat and want to learn correct portion control.   Following this system can help to create this healthy habit.  However, they fail to promote organic, chemical-free foods and do not clearly make the distinction between eating healthfully versus just eating less.

There are many popular options available today, some better than others.  The truth is that most of these diets have an underlying theme at their core: Choose real, unprocessed foods, make vegetables and fruits part of your daily dietary habit, don’t over-eat, and keep the starchy foods and sugars to a minimum.   Long-term health will forever elude if a healthy lifestyle diet is not accomplished.

 

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