By Barbara Radin Fox for The Island Connection
So many of us in the U.S. are “on a diet” or, “off and on a diet.” Usually that means we are trying to lose weight, seemingly the ever present problem with the majority of people here in our country. Some of us are also trying to be on a healthy diet, even though we get a lot of conflicting information and incorrect information on the packaging on food products.
What’s the right answer when we’re wondering about dietary issues?
Well, first of all, the word diet doesn’t necessarily mean losing weight. The word diet is simple: it means what food and drink are we putting in our body. There are low salt, low or no sugar, no lactose, no gluten, vegetarian, vegan, no grain, no cooked food, whole grain, plant-based diets and many other types of diets for losing weight, such as the grapefruit diet.
It’s enough to boggle the mind. There are registered dieticians, nutritionists and health and wellness coaches, and on occasion medical doctors who dispense dietary advice. Whom should we believe?
What we can believe is this:
- We would be dead if we didn’t eat.
- We would probably get sick and maybe hasten our death if we don’t eat the “right” food, i.e. enough protein, dairy, fruits and vegetables and carbohydrates throughout the day. (Many of my patients who have anxiety and depression find that many if not all of these symptoms disappear when they eat a lot more protein throughout the day and get rid of most alcohol, caffeine and sugar.)
- Each person’s diet needs to be individualized, depending on his or her own unique physiology.
Sometimes we can get answers by visiting one of the professionals mentioned. There are medical tests that can uncover medical conditions that are caused by a certain type of food.
Sometimes we can determine what foods bother us through our experience. For example, if a person drinking cow’s milk or milk products, suffers from bloating, gas or other gastrointestinal problems, then that person may be lactose intolerant and could switch to almond, soy or flax milk products. If a person has gastrointestinal or other symptoms that have proven difficult to diagnose, he or she may be sensitive to gluten or actually have celiac sprue disease, which can be diagnosed by a blood test or a biopsy of the small intestine.
Persistence to find a diagnosis will pay off, even though you may have to consult with a few health professionals.
Unless someone has an allergy, sensitivity or disease, moderation usually is the healthy approach to diet. There is a lot of evidence, though, that the healthiest diets are ones that emphasize plant-based, whole grain foods and have shown that these foods seem to prevent as well as treat many conditions, including heart problems, diabetes, cancer and more.
Email any general health related question to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail it to 2045 Maybank Hwy, Charleston 29412. The Seabrook Island Professionals Group is for active or retired health professionals who live on Seabrook Island. Please contact Barbara Fox at email@example.com if you would like more information.