“The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition.” – Thomas Edison
With the ever-widening advent of food fads and health trends hitting the grocery and the bookstore shelves we’re breaking down – or digesting, if you will – what all the fuss is about with some of the most “buzzworthy” terms in nutrition.
Within the last year the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a new regulation that defines the term “gluten-free” for food labeling. Approximately 3 million Americans have celiac disease according to the FDA, which is a disorder in which gluten causes a reaction leading to damage of the lining within the small intestine, preventing it from absorbing nutrients. This could eventually lead to deficiency and disorders such as osteoporosis and intestinal cancer.
Going ‘gluten-free’ means excluding the protein gluten from your diet. Gluten is mainly found in grains including wheat, rye and barley and foods that contain these grains such as Pasta, Breads, Baked Goods, Cereals, Beer and Oats to name a few. Those with celiac disease and gluten intolerance can help manage their symptoms and prevent complications by eating a gluten-free diet.
Plant sterols are natural compounds that can prevent the absorption of cholesterol by the digestive tract and it has been shown in clinical trials that sterols can be effective in reducing blood cholesterol levels. Adding ‘2 to 3 g of sterols a day reduces LDL by 10 to 15 per cent,’ according to the National Heart Foundation.
Food that is high in sterols can contain amounts of dietary fiber as well as vitamins and minerals. Foods with a significant amount of plant sterols include vegetable oils, whole wheat, wheat germ, bran, brown rice, legumes, peanuts, almonds, walnuts, pecans as well as sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds. As for fruits and vegetables that contain a good amount of plant sterols, you can feast on broccoli, blueberries, avocado, cauliflower, apples and Brussel sprouts to name a few.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations defines “probiotics” as “live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.”
Along with yogurt, foods that are rich in probiotics and gut-friendly bacteria can include fermented soft cheeses, Kombucha tea, as well as sauerkraut and kimchi. Probiotics promote healthy digestion by helping to regulate the movement of food through the digestive system and can even improve immune system function as a barrier against infection.
Probiotics can also relieve symptoms of lactose intolerance, a condition in which people cannot digest the lactose found in most milk and dairy products, according to the American Gastroenterological Association.
The Paleo diet is based on the eating habits of those living in the Paleolithic age when it is said that humans began fishing, hunting and scavenging for plants and wild animals. The diet mainly consists of high-protein, low-carbohydrate natural foods such as grass-fed meats, fish and seafood, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds as well as natural oils such as olive oil and nuts oils (walnut, macadamia, etc.)
Attributed with stories of successful weight loss and even helping to relieve digestive disorders, the Paleo diet excludes the eating of processed and refined foods such as dairy, sugars, cereal/grains, candy and junk food.
A detox, or cleanse, can involve everything from removing certain items from your diet to doing a complete diet overhaul. From juice-only to raw-only diets and cutting out artificial or processed foods whether it be alcohol, caffeine, sugars or gluten, the aim of taking on a detox is to rid the body of toxins and to encourage healthy body functioning.
Detoxes are claimed to help everything from weight loss to treating skin conditions such as acne, and allowing organs to function as they should, boosting lymphatic system processes, strengthening the immune system as well as helping to clear blood leading to better circulation. Cleansing of the colon is important as it allows the body to better absorb nutrients and ensures that toxins leave the body after digestion.