Dietary trailblazers

Dietary trailblazers

Knowing what to put in your mouth (and when) has become one of the human race’s greatest preoccupations. Sure, we’ve always been hungry, but the choices we face at the supermarket and when dining out can befuddle us into total bamboozlement. We have health-star ratings and dietary panels to consult as well as all manner of magazines pointing to this or that diet to do everything from cheer us up to increase our libido.

But in amongst some of the half-baked dietary ideas are some seriously important food findings that can actually point us in the direction of better health. So, let’s take a look at some of the most enduring and interesting dietary movements of modern times.

Dr Esselstyn’s Plant-based diet

Dr Esselstyn is a bit of a legend. His diet, focused on the worthy cause of reducing deaths from heart disease, was developed following a 20 year-study into nutrition and the disease. His plant-based diet was shown to affect the advance of heart disease using food, rather than medication, to slow and even reverse the effects of heart disease. An attendant cookbook by his wife and daughter was launched to help people implement the diet and save their own lives!

Quit sugar

Blamed for everything from tooth decay to hyper-activity, sugar has copped some rotten press recently. And that’s probably fair enough! Empty of nutrition and highly delicious, sugar doesn’t do much but spike our blood sugar and make us crave more. But until recently sugar was getting away with it! Added to soft drinks, bread and savoury sauces, sugar was the additive that flew under the radar. That is until the ‘I Quit Sugar’ movement started in earnest. And while the origins of this movement can be debated, the fact is that keeping a lid on it (the sugar canister, that is) will benefit your waistline and your mood!

Paleo Diet

The Paleo Diet has been a sure-fire hit with the dieting masses since 2002, when American Loren Cordain Ph. D launched it. His work harked back to a 1975 book by gastroenterologist Walter Voegtlin, which in 1985 was further built on by Stanley Boyd Eaton and Melvin Konner. Loren popularised the findings of these books that promoted a ‘Palaeolithic’ style of eating. The argument was that our modern diet is completely out of synch with the needs of our bodies. The Paleo Diet says that our bodies still have ‘ancient’, hard-wired nutritional needs that are meat and plant dependent for maximum health and weight management. The only problem is it can be hard to find a woolly mammoth at the butchers!

Intermittent fasting

Following on from the Paleo Diet is intermittent fasting. Again using our hard- wired eating habits as its foundation, Intermittent Fasting attempts to mimic the ‘feast or famine’ conditions of our forebears. Not knowing when our next meal is coming makes our bodies use more calories, helping us to keep our weight down.
It’s a tough program to follow, but evidence backs up its health and weight loss claims!