WWB WATCH: New Year, New Diet? Read this First…The Best 2018 Diets are Ranked and the Top Two May Be the Wisest for All

Jan 11, 2018 by

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Its a New Year and many of us are starting a new leaf and a new diet! An estimated 45 million Americans go on a diet each year, and Americans spend $33 billion each year on weight loss products. At World Wise Beauty, I have been sharing wisdom on healthy diets from experts and doctors from around the world. Much of what I gleaned from the experts over time about diet is essentially common sense. We bypass the fad diets here at World Wise Beauty and focus on living life well. I love to quote Marion Nestle, a well respected Nutritionist and author of many books like “What to Eat” and Food Politics.

 

“Nutrition advice could not be easier to understand. Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits, balance calories and don’t eat too much junk food.” ~Marion Nestle

 

Sounds fairly easy and pretty wise, but for many people, losing weight and keeping it off is challenging.  A lot of it has to do with our habits, our fast food culture, and lifestyle. We are all unique bio-individuals and for many complicated reasons we may have lost our way when it comes to healthy eating habits. We turn to diets to give us structure and regimen. Sometimes trendy diets sound appealing because they are so rigid and definitive. Unfortunately those same trendy diets eliminate entire food groups and this in itself is generally not healthy or wise. The good news is, the two diets that tied in first place overall as the best diets, are also the top two for those with conditions like Diabetes and Hypertension. What makes both the diets ranked highest superior to others, may be the flexibility they offer so many people. The Dash and Mediterranean Diet tied for the number one spot on the report produced by U.S News & World Report. “Here is a quick at a glance definition of the top 2 diets and you can find a complete Diet list from the report below this post.

                                                              #1 Diets 2018

DASH Diet: The DASH diet eating plan is a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, low fat or nonfat dairy. It also includes mostly whole grains; lean meats, fish and poultry; nuts and beans. It is high fiber and low to moderate in fat. It is a plan that follows US guidelines for sodium content, along with vitamins and minerals. In addition to lowering blood pressure, the DASH eating plan lowers cholesterol and makes it easy to lose weight. It is a healthy way of eating, designed to be flexible enough to meet the lifestyle and food preferences of most people. It can be considered to be an Americanized version of the Mediterranean diet, with a few more specific guidelines. It discourages refined and processed foods, which are mostly empty calories.

Mediterranean Diet is based on a diet shared by many regions along the the Mediterranean sea ( think countries like Greece, Italy, France, Turkey, Morocco, and Spain). Each of these regions eats differently, but they share many of the same principles. One of them is Olive Oil and it’s a very important example. You can learn more about the power of Olive oil in a Q&A I did with Dr. Simon Poole for the Healthy Epicurean department at World Wise Beauty . He is an internationally respected expert on the Mediterranean diet and also wrote a book called ‘The Olive Oil Diet’ which will be released this March in the U.S. The Mediterranean diet is full of veggies, beans, nuts legumes, whole grains, lots of spices, fish and seafood and moderate amounts of poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt. Oh and a little red wine to wash it all down!

Personally I’m a big fan of the Mediterranean Diet, because not only is it tasty, but I believe it is anchored to important cultural values that matter to people of all races. Valuing friends and family, living simple and sustainably are two major values paramount to a healthy society and culture. I like the 5 Basics the founder of “The Mediterranean Dish’ outlined here and you can also learn more about the Mediterranean Diet and mindset from Maria Benardis, author of ‘My Greek Family Table’.

Both Dr. Simon Poole and Maria Benardis shared their wisdom on the Mediterranean Diet at a recent Rise of Wise event in Princeton, NJ. Check out their inspiring talks below in video. We also featured three other high profile authors and experts in wellness culture. It was a wonderful day filled with wellness wisdom…

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Whatever diet you select, it should be ideally one that works for your personal body and health condition, and it should be scientifically evidence based. There is no one perfect diet for everyone but there is a perfect diet for you. Get to know your body and genetic profile so you can make wise decisions for your personal wellness program. Weight loss is just one goal for a diet, but health, happiness and longevity are the important and valuable benefits of a good diet. Live, life well, and take time to enjoy your food!

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2018 U.S. News Best Diets Rankings

Full lists available here.

Best Diets Overall 
1. DASH Diet (tie)
1. Mediterranean Diet (tie)
3. Flexitarian Diet

Best Commercial Diets 
1. Weight Watchers
2. Jenny Craig
3. Flat Belly Diet (tie)
3. Nutritarian Diet (tie)

Best Weight-Loss Diets
1. Weight Watchers
2. Volumetrics
3. Jenny Craig (tie)
3. Vegan Diet (tie)

Best Fast Weight-Loss Diets 
1. HMR Diet (tie)
1. Weight Watchers (tie)
3. Biggest Loser Diet (tie)
3. Medifast (tie)
3. SlimFast (tie)
3. Volumetrics (tie)

Best Diets For Healthy Eating
1. DASH Diet (tie)
1. Mediterranean diet (tie)
3. Flexitarian Diet (tie)
3. TLC Diet (tie)

Easiest Diets to Follow
1. Mediterranean Diet
2. Flexitarian Diet (tie)
2. Weight Watchers (tie)

Best Diets for Diabetes
1. Mediterranean
2. DASH Diet
3. Flexitarian Diet (tie)
3. Mayo Clinic Diet (tie)
3. Vegan Diet (tie)
3. Volumetrics (tie)
3. Weight Watchers (tie)

Best Heart-Healthy Diets
1. DASH diet
2. Mediterranean Diet (tie)
2. Ornish Diet (tie)

Best Plant-Based Diets
1. Mediterranean Diet
2. Flexitarian Diet
3. Ornish Diet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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WWB WATCH: From Sizzle to Fizzle, New PURE Nutrition Study is Challenged by the Medical Community and Health Journalist. Why the Questions Raised Matters More than the Actual Study…

Sep 17, 2017 by

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While two deadly hurricanes captured our attention in the last tree weeks, there was a nutrition study called PURE stirring up an argument in the health and wellness community. To really get a good understanding of the study, you would have to read the study and the findings carefully, which most average working people don’t have the time to do, and are not trained to assess. This goes for the educated and the uneducated. Unless you are a nutritionist, doctor or scientist, you are not likely to immediately see the problems with a study of any kind.

Doctors, nutritionist and health journalist however, do take time to review new studies. What happens though, is the general media runs with the narrative the researchers provide, and create headlines that are provocative and at the same time misleading. The Pure Study came out of the gates with a very clear narrative, which was to challenge the definition of a healthy diet, and counter argue the wisdom of a primarily plant based driven diet. It is a complex study and this is a challenge when it gets released to the general public. I write all the time about the 3 minute news headlines that we see on the six o’clock news.  By the time this particular study was widely distributed, the headlines became “New Nutrition Study finds more fat in our diets maybe healthier for us.”.  What gets translated to an already obese society in the US and other western cultures is ” Yay, more cheese, butter and fat please!” If it sounds too good to be true, it is probably because it is not quite true!

Thankfully there are medical and nutrition experts out there, dissecting the data and research, and they remind us to ask the right questions. One of them is Dr. David Katz, the author of ‘Disease Proof’ and founder of the True Health Initiative. He tirelessly works to make sure we are understanding health research data that is often misconstrued and misrepresented. He also works hard to make sure we can find sound science based health wisdom, through his educational True Health Initiative non-profit. When you read his essays, you will have to wade through some of the academic language, but when you stick with him, you learn how to step back from a study, and have that ‘aha skeptical moment’ and realize the importance of ‘variables’ used in study methodologies. His review of the Pure Study is here.

“What, then, accounts for the strange reporting, implying that everything we’ve been told about vegetables, fruits, and beans is wrong? These benefits were “adjusted away” in multivariable models. When this method of statistical analysis was applied, the health benefit expressly attributable to VFL seemed to peak at about 3 servings per day. That, however, is fundamentally misleading- and the headlines, quite simply, were written by people who don’t have a clue what it really means.” ~Dr. David Katz

Beyond the actual raw data Dr. Katz  shares with us, you will also learn to ask the right questions. If you read along with Dt. Katz he will bring us back to a simple idea. There is enough science already pointing clearly to lifestyle habits and diets like the Mediterranean Diet ( already proven and thoroughly researched) to help support healthy living and improve longevity odds. More importantly, however different we may be as bio-individuals, most of the current lifestyle as medicine prescriptions available to us, can be practiced by many with personal tweaks based on their current health condition.

Another good analysis of the PURE study was made by Marion Nestle, author of many best-selling books like ‘What to Eat’. Marion Nestle is Paulette Goddard Professor, of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, Emerita, at New York University, which she chaired from 1988-2003 and from which she retired in September 2017. You can learn a lot about Food Politics at her website by the same name. Again, many of us don’t have time to read all of this, but it doesn’t hurt to seek out good objective sources when you are considering your health, diet and wellness lifestyle. It just might take more than a 3 minutes news clip on the news or a small paragraph in a magazine on the news stand.  Marion Nestle concluded her overview of the study with these thoughts…

“This study confirms that the single most important risk factor for poor health is poverty. The study results are consistent with the idea that largely plant-based diets are good for health. No single study can settle the fat vs. carbohydrate debate because people eat complicated combinations of foods and diets containing those nutrients. What we really need are well designed studies of dietary patterns—the ones done to date suggest that largely plant-based diets are associated with excellent health and longevity. ~Marion Nestle

James Hamblin who is an MD and writer for the Atlantic also wrote a very good piece on the PURE STUDY  and reminds us of the huge ‘system’ we are caught up in today, when it comes to coverage of medical and nutrition research and our voracious appetite for new information. His headline was “New Nutrition Study Changes Nothing”.

“Neophilia is a problem for science, though. And especially the sort of science pertaining to nutrition. Demand for newness leads writers and publishers to focus on narratives that upend conventional wisdom. If new research doesn’t change or challenge the way readers think about the world, why is it a story worth publishing? Eggs are in, and now they’re gone. Butter? It’s back. Every six weeks, The New York Times is legally obligated to tell us either that breakfast isn’t important or that skipping it causes death.”~James Hamblin, MD

Finally if you would like a simple overview of the study, and a grounded response anchored in common sense and wellness wisdom, it would be worth reading the article shared at Oldways a nonprofit Inspiring Good Health Through Cultural Food Traditions.

“Once again, we’re back on the nutrition roller coaster, being told that a new study has suddenly reversed everything we thought we knew about healthy eating. But has it? To help you escape that queasy roller-coaster ride, Oldways looked behind the sensationalist headlines and scrutinized the actual findings of this study. Given those anti-carb headlines, what we found may surprise you!” ~Oldways

Oldways went on to share these 3 wise takeaways:

The bottom line is that what we knew to be true about healthy eating yesterday is still true today, so we’ll leave you with three pieces of advice:

  1. The experts still agree. In November 2015, Oldways brought together leading nutrition experts representing views from Paleo to Vegan at our Finding Common Ground conference. They all agreed that focusing on quality and variety is the key to eating well. This means choosing high-quality meat, fish, and/or beans and other protein sources instead of living on bologna and bacon; eating whole grains (especially intact grains) instead of refined grains and added sugars; enjoying a range of fruits and vegetables; and favoring the heathy fats found in nuts, avocados, fish, olive oil, and other foods.
  2. Use Carb Common Sense. Everybody needs carbohydrates. Avoiding carbs makes no sense – especially when you remember that fruits and vegetables are also made up primarily of carbohydrates. Check out the Oldways Whole Grains Council’s easy guide to Carb Common Sense, to steer smoothly through your carb choices.
  3. Eating should be a pleasure, not a math exam. We used charts and numbers to prove a point today, but we are not recommending you count grams of this or percents of that as you pick the foods you eat. Traditional diets, like those Oldways champions, can vary widely in their makeup and still support good health. Look for the highest quality you can afford (see #1 and #2), and the numbers will take care of themselves.

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Now for the Sobering Reality …Why the Questions Raised Matters More than the Pure Study

As for my headline, “Why the questions raised matters more than the study’, I believe we are becoming entrenched in an argument about diet that distracts us from a bigger conversation we need to be having about food. If all of this data I shared isn’t enough motivation to lean toward a conscious value driven diet (mostly plants) for your health, then maybe you haven’t been reading enough about the environmental crisis we are headed for if we don’t begin to look at sustainable ways of living. As Albert Einstein famously said “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”.

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What I find here at World Wise Beauty talking to experts from around the world, is everything is connected. The obesity crisis isn’t only related to our consumption of too much carbs, fat and protein. The health crisis has been accelerated by an industry of fast food, industrialized food manufacturing, and chemical laden ingredients that effect our chemistry and metabolism. The reason we are so obsessed about food, is because our supermarkets have been filled with ‘boxes’ of  food like ingredients and currently marketing themselves as low-fat, low carb, low sodium, sugar free and gluten free. In other words ‘health products’. Really? Yes.

But we can’t just isolate the processed food manufacturers, we also have to look at the social cultural context. We have to look at the cultural narrative in which marketers of processed food  and pharmaceutical drugs can thrive and exploit. Look at a basic commercial for arthritis pain depicting the hard-working man who does physical work and has to power through his day with a NSAID pill. He needs the quick fix. Also, look at the hard working couples who are raising several kids, and are barely making it on two salaries. They don’t necessarily have time to cook for their kids, so the inexpensive box of cereal or frozen food entree filled with either too much sugar of too much salt and a good dose of unrecognizable chemicals is the quick fix for their lifestyle. The ads for these products are feel good messages that make everyone from the parents to the kids feel good about their choices. These are all real examples of what a culture can manifest. Our culture is collective of values, (based on a number of socio-economic conditions) and maybe the hard bite to swallow, is we have been ‘buying into’ a ‘lifestyle’ that’s not sustainable for our health, our families and our planet.

As I write this piece, there was a front page NYT headline this weekend “How Big Business Got Brazil Hooked on Junk Food”. Sub header is ‘Planet Fat’ Nestle goes door to door.

“The new reality is captured by a single, stark fact: Across the world, more people are now obese than underweight. At the same time, scientists say, the growing availability of high-calorie, nutrient-poor foods is generating a new type of malnutrition, one in which a growing number of people are both overweight and undernourished. “The prevailing story is that this is the best of all possible worlds — cheap food, widely available. If you don’t think about it too hard, it makes sense,” said Anthony Winson, who studies the political economics of nutrition at the University of Guelph in Ontario. A closer look, however, reveals a much different story, he said. “To put it in stark terms: The diet is killing us.” ~NYT Article

When we think of Nestle we think of ‘cozy hot chocolate’ or chocolate chips for our homemade cookies. We also think about the nice, hard working people that work for these companies. We think about the philanthropy of these large corporations who give to various foundations ironically sometimes funding cancer research and diabetes ( an epidemic in our country). It is so hard to to question an industry and corporation that has been in our food culture for half a century. Yet, that old-fashioned company called Nestle is now a multi-national corporation and like any corporation their first priority is to please the shareholders. In order to do this,  their commitment is to sell more product, and this is regardless of the harm it may be causing. This is where our personal values come in. Is this okay? Are you okay with that?

Another example of ‘industry before health’ and particularly targeting women in our culture, is the cosmetic and personal care industries. The manufacture and safety of cosmetics and personal care products is regulated in many countries. In the European Union (EU) certain natural and synthetic cosmetic ingredients require approval of their safety. Banned substances are listed in the EU regulation No. 1223/2009 on cosmetic products (effective in 07/2013), which does also include the ban of animal testing for cosmetic ingredients and finished products too. We have no such safety standard here in the U.S. Just another illustration of where our values are at. So they keep manufacturing makeup made of chemicals that can contribute and cause some cancers, and we keep using them, mostly because many of us are unaware.

“Does this mean that to be for health and wellness of our people we have to be against capitalism? Of course not! Just look at the millennials creating new businesses today. They are creating companies with sustainable practice and philosophy baked into their business modalities.” ~Laura Connolly, Founder of World Wise Beauty & Rise of Wise presents

I recommend you read the NYT article so you can step back objectively, and look at what has happened to our culture, and why we have such a health crisis on our hands today. I would also remind you that demonizing one company is not the point. I think we have to re-imagine food systems, and change the cultural narrative of “industry before the health of a society and the planet”. If you keep hearing experts say “it’s not sustainable’ it’s because it is not. We are left with a health crisis in our society and a health crisis of our planet because the fast cheap food systems ( among other things) is harming the soil, air and water we rely on to LIVE. That’s it in a nutshell. It’s not about being a capitalist or a socialist which is a narrative deliberately spread, so we don’t focus on what matters,–the health and well-being of our families.

So maybe the first question we all ask ourselves is ‘What matters?’ Maybe if we started out with a value driven business idea, before an ethically challenged profit motivated premise for a business, we can begin to build a true wellness culture. Label it whatever you like, but ethics and values do matter, and there is no amount of wealth to sugar coat the damage and harm a corporation can do to a culture, when there is no value system but ‘more profit’ at the center of it’s reason for being.

To leave you with an encouraging thought, here is a wise bite from another important respected voice in wellness culture Paul Hawken

“If you look at the science and you’re not pessimistic, in a sense you don’t understand it,” Hawken says in a slow, unwavering voice. “But if you look at the people who are addressing the problem at hand and don’t feel hopeful, then you don’t have a pulse.”~Paul Hawken, talking to MindBodyGreen

 

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