Become the Healthiest Version of You!

Navigating Diet Confusion

Today I'm sharing a post by Joshua Rosenthal, founder of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (the school where I earned my Integrative Nutrition Health Coach certification) to explain the approach I take with my clients by helping them to create custom wellness plans that are designed uniquely for their needs, lifestyle preferences and goals.
Do you follow a specific type of dietary approach? If so, what led you down that path? Is your diet working for you? Why or why not?
If you're still searching, or in need of some guidance, you can learn how you can work with me to create your custom Personal Nutrition Blueprint here

Diet trends are always a hot topic, but keeping up with the most effective options can be an almost impossible task given the overwhelming amount of information available. If you follow nutrition experts, you’re sure to see compelling evidence for a variety of plans, including plant-based diets, paleo diets, detox programs, elimination diets, ketogenic diets, supplements, and more. How do we sift through so many options to find what works best? Understanding nutrients is a great place to start.

Fat, carbohydrates and protein—all necessary macronutrients—have been criticized and celebrated, and each play different roles in nutrition trends. Most of us learned years ago that fat increased our risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and other health complications, but a recent study in The Lancet (2) reports carbohydrates as the culprit and higher fat intake is related to lower total mortality.

Another study (3) suggests low-fat, plant-based diets are best for weight management, blood sugar control, and cardio-metabolic benefits.

If you dig a little more, you might see a study (1) providing evidence that the Atkins Diet was the most effective in producing short- and long-term weight loss when compared to popular diets such as DASH, Glycemic-Index, Mediterranean, Ornish, Paleo, and Zone.

While a different study (4) found that a whole-foods plant-based diet with limited or no intake of refined foods and animal products was beneficial for preventing and treating type 2 diabetes. What if you’re trying to lose weight and manage your type 2 diabetes?

No wonder nutrition is such a confusing topic. While these studies might offer important insights, they fail to account for the individuality of participants. We don’t fit neatly into boxes, and our tastes, medical histories, goals, and lifestyles vary greatly.
Before you can find your perfect diet, it’s important to understand the concept of bio-individuality. A theory made popular by the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, the concept is simple—there’s no perfect diet for everyone that works all the time. Maybe your ethical views support a vegan diet, or your autoimmune condition is best managed with a paleo eating plan. If your schedule keeps you on the run and smoothies are your go-to meal, a diet that requires a lot of meal prep won’t work. Your lifestyle, values, and food preferences matter. No matter how compelling the latest diet trend is, your body has a number of ways to tell you the foods you need to feel truly nourished.

Many of the studies comparing high-fat vs. high-carb don’t take into account the breadth and quality of the micronutrients consumed or potential deficiencies. Some of the most common nutrient deficiencies include iron, magnesium, iodine, calcium, vitamin B12, vitamin D—all nutrients you can obtain through a diet rich in whole foods.

However, deficiencies can be compounded by stress, illness, age, medication usage, and more. Which means even the healthiest diet might benefit from alterations or supplementation from time to time.

With so many variables to account for, the challenge should shift from finding the perfect diet for everyone, to the ideal diet for ourselves at whatever life stage we’re in. Macro- and micronutrients work best as a team. They all have an important role to play in our health, and food quality matters as much as finding the right nutrient balance.

Working with a health coach or nutrition professional will help you better understand your current nutritional needs while supporting your personal preferences. By all means, stay current on the latest research and learn about new diet trends, but don’t forget to listen to your body and honor what it’s asking for.

(1) Anton, S. D., Hida, A., Heekin, K., Sowalsky, K., Karabetian, C., Mutchie, H., … Barnett, T. E. (2017). Effects of Popular Diets without Specific Calorie Targets on Weight Loss Outcomes: Systematic Review of Findings from Clinical Trials. Nutrients, 9(8), 822.

(2) Dehghan, M., Mente, A., Zhang, X., Swaminathan, S., Li, W., Mohan, V., . . . Yusuf, S. (2017, August 29). Associations of fats and carbohydrate intake with cardiovascular disease and mortality in 18 countries from five continents (PURE): a prospective cohort study. Retrieved from…/PIIS0140-6736(17)32252-3/fulltext

(3) Kahleova, H., Levin, S., & Barnard, N. (2017). Cardio-Metabolic Benefits of Plant-Based Diets. Nutrients, 9(8), 848.

(4) McMacken, M., & Shah, S. (2017). A plant-based diet for the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes. Journal of Geriatric Cardiology : JGC, 14(5), 342–354.