Diets in Review - Find the Right Diet for You

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Did Cavemen Follow the Paleo Diet? Probably Not

Eating like our ancestors, eating like a caveman, eating like hunter-gatherers – no matter how you phrase it, it all comes down to the same thing: the paleo diet.

The premise of the diet is to mimic the ancient humans. This is done by removing products of modern agriculture (wheat, legumes, and dairy). Instead, paleo dieters eat meals full of meat, nuts, and vegetables.

paleo

According to author Michael Pollan, however, that diet isn’t what our ancient ancestors would have eaten. On an episode of the Inquiring Minds podcast, he said, “I don’t think we really understand…well the proportions in the ancient diet. Most people who tell you with great confidence that this is what our ancestors ate-I think they’re kind of blowing smoke.”

We asked Mary Hartley, R.D. what her take on the paleo diet was, and she agrees with Pollan. “Over the last several years, researchers have learned more about early hominid diets. Early hominids from forested areas ate the fruit and tree nuts, but ancients for the savanna ate the grasses and sedges that grew there. (Millions of years later, those grasses would become domesticated cereal crops).”


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Grain Brain Take 2: Another look at how wheat, carbs, and sugar affect your brain

This morning I read a nutrition article that was popping up all over my Facebook feed. The story, This is Your Brain on Gluten, which appeared in The Atlantic, covered the science behind a new book called Grain Brain. From the sound of things, the author of the article, James Hamblin, who is a medical doctor, had been hesitant to cover the book—he wasn’t sure what to make of the general hypothesis, which is that eating all grains ultimately causes mental deterioration such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. But because it’s been a best-seller since its release he finally gave it a read.

grains in handTo say Hamblin remained skeptical after reading the book—and speaking with the author of Brain Grain, David Perlmutter, MD, as well as a handful of other notable researchers and physicians, including David Katz, MD—would be an understatement. He pokes holes in some of the claims and reminds readers that much of the “science” that the diet is based on is either not widely accepted or is simply speculation—a connecting of dots that can’t actually be proven.

Hamblin’s overview of the book and the scientific basis for following or eschewing this type of diet seemed spot-on, but it also felt familiar. After a quick search on DietsInReview I realized why: Our resident dietitian Mary Hartley, RD, wrote a similarly cautionary article on Grain Brain back in October!


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Detox Diets and Fasts Do Not Work and May Increase Toxins in the Body

bottle

To detox or not to detox? That is the question I had for Gerard Mullin, MD of Johns Hopkins University as he spoke about nutritional detoxification at the 2013 Food & Nutrition Conferences and Expo a few weeks ago.

Dr. Mullin said that toxins are everywhere – in the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the things we touch.

Bisphenol A (BPA), a carcinogen, is in plastics, dental sealants, canned food linings, and cash register receipts.

Phthalates, other carcinogens, are found in fatty milk, butter and meats, along with personal care products, detergents, children’s toys, printing inks, and more.

Heavy metals, like arsenic, mercury and lead, are in food, batteries, paints, plastics, and fertilizers.

For the most part, toxins are “endocrine disruptors” that change the way our hormones regulate bodily functions. In animal studies, endocrine disruptors are linked to cancers, birth defects, diabetes, and other diseases. What is worse is that, when they work together, the sum of their actions is greater than the whole, and they are stored practically forever in body fat. Whether or not an individual develops a problem depends on genetics, level of exposure, and the quality of nutrients in the diet.
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Jillian Michaels Cheated; Team Loses Big and Ruben Returns to the Biggest Loser Ranch

A shocking moment at last night’s Biggest Loser weigh-in left fans dismayed, confused, and some even celebrating.

Before the contestants stepped on the scale, trainer Jillian Michaels was confronted by Alison Sweeney about giving her team caffeine supplements. “Last week, Jillian broke the rules and gave caffeine supplements to each member of her team without [a] doctor’s permission,” said the host.

jillian

NBC responded with a statement this morning, telling us, “While caffeine is allowed in ‘The Biggest Loser’ house, Jillian did not ask permission to give it in supplement form. Because of this rules violation, the previous week’s weigh-in was thrown out.”

Michaels’ white team was penalized four pounds. Bob’s team regained the immunity they would have had last week. And Ruben’s elimination was void, allowing the former American Idol to return.

The trainer said she stands by her professional opinion and the decision she made to give her team caffeine supplements, calling the supplement “significantly healthier than unlimited amounts of coffee.” It should be noted that Michaels does not have formal dietetic training nor certification, but does have a nutrition and wellness consultant certificate with the American Fitness Professionals and Associates (AFPA).

It’s been widely assumed that this sort of back room behavior takes place on the ranch; with accusations of juice fasting, diuretics, and the like swarming for years. One source told us that select players were known to get such caffeine supplements, but it wasn’t something open or available to all contestants. Another source who also requested anonymity, told us, “Everyone knows Jillian has been giving caffeine supplements to her contestants since the first season. And Dr. H prescribes supplements we never hear about.”

If this is fairly common practice on the ranch, a rarely enforced rule, why punish Jillian now? Our first source was shocked that they even aired and explained what happened. Our theory is that the producers needed a reason to get the Velvet Teddy Bear, who revealed a 104 pound total loss in last week’s elimination interview, back on the ranch.
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Hungry or Bored: Is Your Eating Emotional or Essential?

Hunger:

1. a feeling of discomfort or weakness caused by lack of food, coupled with the desire to eat.
2. a severe lack of food
3. a strong desire or craving

Those are the dictionary definitions of hunger. But what does hunger really mean? If you break hunger down to the most basic definition, what is it?

plate and utensils

A medical definition states that hunger is “an uneasy sensation occasioned normally by the lack of food and resulting directly from stimulation of the sensory nerves of the stomach by the contraction and churning movement of the empty stomach.”

We’ve determined hunger is the contraction and churning of an empty stomach. Now when was the last time your stomach was truly empty? Claims vary on just how long a healthy, well-nourished person can survive without food; usually it’s somewhere in the area of three to ten weeks. However, the feeling of hunger usually happens after just a few hours of not eating.

Our resident nutrition expert, Mary Hartley, R.D., recommends using the Hunger-Fullness scale to determine how hungry you are. The scale goes from one to ten, with one being extremely hungry and ten being extremely full. “It’s best to train yourself to eat at 2.5-3.0 and stop at 7.5-8.0, and then get hungry again in 4-5 hours.”
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