Paleo, Ketogenic, Vegan, Vegetarian, Pescatarian.
Many patients will remark on how I don’t spend as much time on Diet and food choices as many Doctors in the current holistic health model do.
For something that is at the very core of what functional/holistic practitioners do, you would think I would be dedicating more time to enumerating all of the data around diet and food choices, right?
I have to say, in my opinion, most of the dietary argument is already settled. That may seem outrageous to many, so let me explain VERY briefly.
I believe, science has most, if not all of the research it would ever need on making the best dietary food choices simple for most people.
And that choice is...
EAT REAL FOOD.
No really, it is that simple, however, over time I believe, we will learn more about the superiority of one vegetable or fruit over another, not in comparison to each other but qualified by the status of one's current health, genetics, or stage of life.
Scientific diet knowledge will soon be crossing the threshold of group dietary recommendations and will adapt to the needs of an individual diet over the course of one's lifetime. With all of the new research data coming out about mindset, meditation, microbiome, genetics, water, breathing, and lifestyle, food will clearly NOT be the end-all-be-all in terms of human nourishment, health, longevity, and performance.
I am not saying food choices are not important - they are extremely important, what I'm saying is that we are spending inordinate amounts of time trying to delineate exactly the best diet for everyone and in my opinion, we already know the answer to this, which includes:
1. Eat less than we currently do (volume)
2. Eat more plants than anything else
3. Eat real foods over anything processed.
So, for simplicity and clarity, my general stance on diet is predominantly a plant-based perspective of REAL FOOD. This does not mean consumption of animal products is not permissible.
It means that if the diet is predominantly plant-based then some animal fats and proteins will provide nutrients that are hard to get on an exclusively plant-based diet. This can help reduce the negative effects of a typical western diet of animal-based foods that can be inflammatory and mortality-risk-heavy.
In my clinic, most of the patients that I consult with already follow one of the main fields of thought on diet at the moment, veganism, vegetarianism, paleo, or ketogenic. They are ALL predominantly plant-based at the core. These diets are historically clean from a western perspective. Meaning, they encourage people to EAT REAL FOOD. That means eating zero to minimally processed ANYTHING!
There is nothing magical about any of these diets other than being considered a way for the average person getting back to a more natural diet.
I am not advocating any particular diet outside of the guidelines in my clinic unless it is specifically warranted, which are predominantly in order of volume...
5. Natural fats and oils from food or cold pressed (minimally processed i.e. olive, coconut, etc.)
6. Moderate amounts of beans/grains (not much on the grains myself)
7. Animal products (a few to several times per week - includes dairy and fish)
That means REAL FOOD that is not processed, to minimally processed. You will make mistakes - don't worry about it, it's what you eat most of the time that matters most!
Even now, the research on real food is LOUD and UNREMITTING, processed foods of all types are mostly to blame for the current predicament of western health.
The "diet wars" that are going on currently are primarily based on the disparity between the idea of animal byproducts in the diet versus an entirely plant-based diet. It simply boils down to that! There is science-based evidence on both sides. But primarily, with the entire body of research that now exists, it is safe to say that animal byproducts need to be kept to a minimum in the human diet. This includes commercial hot dogs, hamburgers, sandwich meats, etc. and yes even seafood and dairy. Additionally, many still consider VEGAN cheeses, hot dogs, doughnuts, cookies, and other manufactured foods as real food - they are not!
The same goes for Paleo/Ketogenic diets where many followers believe that processed or highly processed animal products are permissible but which are not part of the original concept of the diet and of course, are not real foods.
As it pertains to health span, longevity, and performance - processed foods ARE the true offenders. In my opinion, the liberal consumption of vegetables and fruit overcomes many of the issues that can be raised with even a very moderate amount of animal by-products that are NOT commercially processed.
So what if you already eat this way and are still having problems?
You are not alone. Under certain circumstances, the BEST diet, DOES NOT ALWAYS work for everyone. Moreover, foods that are supposed to be healthy for everyone may cause severe problems for certain individuals.
In my clinic, when someone is on one of these diets and having a failure to thrive, if it is warranted I will order tests for food antibodies or antibody tests as broad autoimmune markers. This helps us narrow down exactly which foods or system processes that may be causing a problem and can be dealt with clinically.
Every time I get review labs from someone on the "perfect diet" and we see the foods they are having issues with, they say, "BUT I EAT THAT ALL THE TIME!"
Rest assured that the remedy is not too complicated and you just need to right tools to thrive. You are still on a better diet than most who are on a highly processed animal-based diet.
The war is over, results are in, EAT REAL FOOD and shortcomings of all the individual diet plans will not be something of concern for the majority of people.
Dr. Lorn Allison D.N.
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