Thursday, March 28, 2013

What the Best health producing diets share in common....

Today's Post:  Thursday, 3-28-2013

Intro:  The Mediterranean diet is considered one of the best ways to eat for good health.

But despite the fact that the Mediterranean diet IS one of the best ways to eat for health, the other ways to eat for good health and fat loss show some versions of it are far more effective. 

I’ve long posted that making those upgrades to the Mediterranean diet or adding extra virgin olive oil to those other ways to eat for good health tend to create a more diverse and effective way to eat for good health.

When a very important recent study came out, it found that even people with existing heart disease or very high risk factors, when switched to a Mediterranean diet got fast and significant protection from heart attacks and more.

But something I missed is that it did so more than what was called a “lowfat” diet.

And, of course, after this rather conclusive study, some people talked about the Mediterranean diet being the best way to eat for health.

I’ve long posted that the Mediterranean diet IS that protective for three key reasons. 

1.  It completely removes all soft drinks and all the several kinds of junk food when people eat the Mediterranean diet.  That alone is a HUGE asset! It really tends to stop or prevent obesity – and many diseases.

2.  It replaces almost all junk omega 6 oils and some animal fats from grain fed animals also excessively high in omega 6 oils which cause excess inflammation and disease to olive oil which does NOT do so!  That too is a HUGE asset because it does so much to prevent heart disease and cancers.

3.  And, many of the people following the Mediterranean diet also use extra virgin olive oil.  The many micronutrients in extra virgin olive oil are extremely good for health. 

For example, people eating the Mediterranean diet are less likely to get Alzheimer’s disease. 

But just in the last few days research was announced showing that extra virgin olive oil has a micronutrient the prevents the formation of beta amyloid which is one of the causes of Alzheimer’s disease.

That means that people eating the Mediterranean diet who use extra virgin olive oil have even better health and less mental decline than those who just eat olive oil that is not extra virgin olive oil.

But a very knowledgeable director of one of the organizations that uses one of the truly low fat diets wrote an article that was posted on Medscape.

She is Gayl J. Canfield, PhD, RD & the Director of Nutrition at the Pritikin Longevity Center in Miami, Florida.

In her article, she makes several good points.

The group labeled lowfat in the study were not eating that much less fat than those in the Mediterranean diet but WERE eating the standard American diet including junk fats, omega 6 oils, excess sugars, and likely drank soft drinks.

Then she lists their current upgrade of the Pritikin Diet and the Ornish diet as getting very desirable health results too but are actually true lowfat diets.

Then she notes as I’ve often done that the DASH II diet also gets great health results and lower blood pressure for people who eat it.

She wrote:

“Healthy "Low-Fat" Diets

A substantial body of research exists that has documented the heart-healthy benefits of 2 well-known low-fat diets, Pritikin and Ornish. In fact, the data are so strong that Medicare now covers cardiac rehabilitation programs based on the Pritikin and Ornish plans for people with a history of cardiovascular disease.[2] Both programs also include exercise and lifestyle-change components.

The Ornish Program has been proven to regress heart disease,[3,4] and the Pritikin Program has been proven to significantly reduce many modifiable risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, triglycerides, blood glucose, hypertension, inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein, and excess weight/obesity.[5-7]

Both programs recommend an eating plan with about 10% to 15% of calories coming from fat, and both emphasize hearty consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes such as beans. The Ornish Program is completely vegetarian, whereas the Pritikin Program allows up to 4 oz of animal protein daily, such as omega-3-rich fatty fish, skinless white poultry, or lean meat such as bison.

Both of these programs are a far cry from the "low-fat" diets of the 1980s and 1990s, many of which were anything but healthy. Often, the "low-fat” and "fat-free" products people were eating (remember "fat-free" cookies?) were essentially junk food themselves -- very high in sugar, salt, and/or refined white flour.

Low-fat plans such as Pritikin and Ornish, by contrast, focus on real food -- whole, minimally processed, naturally fiber-rich foods that, as Michael Pollan wrote in his superb book In Defense of Food, "are foods our great grandmothers would have recognized as food."

Another low-fat diet that has proven to be particularly beneficial for blood pressure control is the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. Several studies funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have found that the DASH diet lowers blood pressure as well as or better than medications. DASH also promotes menus that are high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans; low in fats, salt, red meats, and sweets; and moderate in fish, poultry, nuts, and low-fat or nonfat dairy foods.”

My comments.

These three diets share with the Mediterranean diet that the people on them remove all soft drinks and all the several kinds of junk food when people eat any of these 3 lowfat diets also!

They also, by virtue of being so low in fat and avoiding meats or the fat of meats of animals fed grains high in omega 6 oils and avoiding omega 6 oils too, share a very low intake of omega 6 oils with the Mediterranean diet.

These 3 diets also tend to stress eating vegetables, fruit, and beans even more than the Mediterranean diet.

Clearly any of these four diets that adds or uses extra virgin olive oil and raw nuts for those not allergic will get great health results.  And eating a Mediterranean diet that adds even more vegetables, fruit, and beans as those 3 diets do, will get great health results.  (The people in Crete who once had one of the lowest rates of heart disease ever found in fact, ate that version of the Mediterranean diet.)

But, those 4 diets can do even better in several ways.

Dr Canfield notes one.  She points out that boosting the intake of omega 3 oils is proven to be health protective.  (I’ve posted that combining boosting omega 3 oils with removing hydrogenated oils and omega 6 oils slashes excess chronic inflammation and the diseases it helps cause.)

Eating wild caught fish not high in mercury, eating other seafood not polluted and sustainably harvested, and taking omega 3 and DHA supplements combined with one of those 4 upgraded diets begins to create close to the world’s most healthful diets.

But there are two things that tend to cause excess fat that are still in all of these diets. 

1.  They tend to include some to a lot of whole grain foods.  These foods are very high in glycemic index and are often made from GMO grains and very commonly use wheat or whole wheat which turns out to be extra fattening for other reasons.

So one upgrade they all need is to make even whole grain foods occasional rather than daily foods and wheat even whole wheat as a very occasional food.

2.  One of the surest ways to lower hunger effectively and lose fat by building muscle and preventing its loss is to eat a diet a bit higher in protein than these ways to eat suggest.  That’s most true for the Ornish and Pritikin diets.

The critical thing is to eat a bit more beans and for those not allergic to eat more raw, unsalted, nuts than are in the 3 lowfat diets. 

It’s nice that eating wild caught fish not high in mercury and eating other seafood not polluted and sustainably harvested is also a very health supporting source of good quality protein.  Except for the Mediterranean diet, the lowfat diets don’t stress this enough.  (Farmed fish are very heavily polluted and the fish are usually fed grains high in omega 6 oils.  They are NOT safe to eat at all in my judgment.)

And, eating eggs from chickens fed on pasture only and beef and lamb from animals fed only grass or hay or sprouts is also far better than eating these foods from animals that are grain fed.

What if you can only afford or have access to eggs and chicken and beef and lamb from factory farmed animals fed grains?

Only the DASH II diet includes them.  And, it teaches to get lean cuts and remove visible fat and cook in ways that remove even more fat.  All of the diets suggest eating less of them than most people do.

That approach is sound, not optimal but sound.

Eat more fish and seafood and beans and nuts and eat those less often and do your very best to de-fat the meat from animals fed grain.  (You can add back extra virgin olive oil to make them taste better or use a mechanical tenderizer before cooking or cook them in a slow cooker. 

These steps also work with the leaner meat from naturally fed animals but removing their fat is not necessary.

So what is the world’s most healthful diet.

It’s a way of eating that combines the best of the diets and approaches that YOU actually find enjoyable and practical to eat.

Do be sure to eat a lot of nonstarchy vegetables and health OK protein foods, and beans and lentil AND use only extra virgin olive oil.

But beyond that experiment within these guidelines to see what works best for you!

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