Diets. Which is the best to lose weight? Which is the best to reduce pain? Does one diet fit all? How long should you be on a certain diet? Or do you have to be on the diet for life? Bottom line, diets are confusing. Along with how many options are available comes all the opinions of each as well. Fats are good. Fats are bad. Limit carbohydrates. You need carbohydrates. Animal protein is necessary. Everyone should go plant based. And the list goes on. As a naturopathic physician part of my job is education. This includes education around nutrition, and in turn, diets. My goal of this post is to outline some of the most common diets a naturopathic doctor may put you on by discussing general indications, and some pros and cons of each.
Indication: This diet can be used to reduce inflammation, reduce chronic pain, weight loss, auto-immune conditions, improve chronic skin conditions.
Pro: This diet can be sustained long term, as well it is inclusive of variety of foods.
Con: It can be difficult for some patients to find options when eating out or at social events, cutting sugars can be hard for patients initially.
Indication: This diet was historically used just in seizure disorders. It is now also commonly used post concussion, to aid in weight loss, to reduce inflammation, reduce chronic pain, and to reset metabolism.
Pro: This diet can be sustained long term. Many patients also experience weight loss, improved cognition, and a reduction of post-concussive symptoms.
Con: Many patients find it difficult to cut out carbohydrates and sugars initially, especially when eating out or at social events.
Indication: While this diet seems to be popular with Crossfitters, it also has been known to be used for weight loss, to reduce inflammation, to reduce chronic pain, and to aid with auto-immune conditions.
Pro: This diet has become more mainstream making it easier to find food options.
Con: There is conflicting information about what is considered “paleo” and what is not.
Indication: This diet is mainly used for weight loss.
Pro: Patients on this program experience quick weight loss. As well patients tend to experience less hunger than other restricting diets.
Con: This diet requires a prescription (injection or lozenge form) as well as very limited daily caloric intake. This is not a sustainable diet long term.
Plant Based Diet
Indication: Plant based diets can be used for weight loss, to reduce inflammation, to relieve chronic pain, and for ethical reasoning.
Pro: Patients on plant based diets can experience weight loss, improve their cholesterol profile, and possibly have a positive environmental impact.
Con: Patients risk of not getting adequate protein if not combining proper foods, as well there is an increase risk of B12 deficiency. Many patients turn into more of a "carb-atarian" initially as they replace animal protein with carbohydrates, which can lead to weight gain, blood sugar dis-regulation and even hormonal imbalances.
Indication: This diet is based on a combination of blood work as well as symptoms of candida overgrowth.
Pro: This diet and program will reduce candida levels and reduce inflammation. Some patients also experience weight loss. It is generally a short term diet.
Con: It can be very difficult for patients to remove all sugar from their diet. As well there is a potential to experience a candida die off period where symptoms feel worse before they feel better.
Food Sensitivity Diet
Indication: This diet is based on blood work showing which foods you may be sensitive to and should avoid, and which you have no reaction to and can consume at leisure.
Pro: The patient has tangible evidence of which foods are causing them problems and which are not.
Con: This testing isn’t 100% sensitive/specific (i.e. some false positives due to cross reactivity), as well, testing can be costly.
GAPS Diet/SCD Diet
Indication: These diets are used for any chronic GIT (gastrointestinal tract) diseases such as celiac, Crohn’s, or ulcerative colitis. It is also used to reduce overall inflammation, following a GIT infection, or in chronic psychological disorders.
Pro: This diet heals the gut on a cellular level, improves overall digestion, and improves absorption of nutrients.
Con: Daily bone broth can be difficult for many people to consume, as well the initial phase can take a long time for many and can become difficult to stick to.
So after all of that, which diet is best for you? The bottom line is that every diet has different indications, pros, and cons. There isn’t a single diet that every patient should be on. Some are to be adopted as a lifelong lifestyle, whereas others are short term. The best approach is to book an appointment with your naturopathic doctor to determine which is right for you and your health goals. If you are interested in learning more about what diet may be best for you and your nutritional needs book in with Dr. Hennigar by clicking on Book Now.
As always, this post is not designed to diagnose or treat you, but instead to give you something to think about. Please book a consult with a naturopathic doctor prior to changing, starting, or stopping medications or protocols.