There are plenty of diets out there – some more popular than others. The Paleo Diet has become a rage, with people swearing off carbs in favor of proteins and plants. Then there are the juice cleanses – specifically the lemon-cayenne-maple syrup variety that celebrities flock to – which according to many experts might not be good in the long run. Or the no-sugar, no-carb diets which feel like a punishment after a while, especially when you crave something simple like sweetener in your coffee or a slice of toast.
Another dietary fad that has taken off has to do with our gut microbial – the healthy bacteria that lives in our bellies and turns our food into energy that our bodies can use. Sometimes, this healthy bacteria is overtaken by “bad” bacteria – those microbes which cause inflammation which lead to diseases and complications, due to poor high-fat, low-fiber diets. In order to reverse the effects of bad bacteria, many people are turning to taking probiotic supplements, which essentially add the “good” bacteria back into your body.
Sounds like a good solution, right? But now, a study has surfaced that says over generations, we have lost the good bacteria we should have to efficiently process foods, especially in industrialized nations. We city-dwellers tend to eat foods higher in fat and low in fiber as opposed to those who live in rural areas and small villages, who tend to eat more vegetables and healthier foods. So over the course of time, we might never get back to that ideal gut microbe state – which means more health challenges over time. So while probiotics can help, they might not be as effective as we think. So is this yet another fad diet that we flock to, looking for a miracle cure for our problems?
One researcher provides a sociological explanation for why we look to fad diets, and what our diet crazes say about our culture: "They reflect what people believe, and these beliefs are not insignificant," she said. "They're screenplays by which we live our lives and actually influence the day-to-day decisions that many people live out."
So dieting and what we put in our bodies has a lot to do with our thoughts, perceptions, and overall outlook on life.
While it’s tempting to follow the latest fad diet to see if it will work, a lot of research on the most healthy diets point to moderation. In other words, it’s preferable to add variety to your diet, and to splurge every so often on something that’s not so healthy, in order to keep your body going strong.
Fad diets tend to play into our fears, causing us to take extreme measures to “fix” a problem. But in reality, that isn’t a diet that is going to last for the long-term. Instead, we need to learn how to incorporate foods we love, but in a healthier way. This is the key to success.