The Effects of Fad Diets on the Body

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People are always interested in attempting new trends, especially trends that can assist in improving personal appearance. The promise of using a temporary diet for spectacular results is the main reason “Fad Diets” are thriving with the population of our country. Since they provide the results countless people desire, nobody stops to think if they are actually beneficial for our bodies and of the health risks people might face. The most popular diets presently are the Mediterranean, Keto and Paleo; which we researched to see the benefits and downfalls to our bodies and health.

Mediterranean Diet

Mediterranean diet has been around for centuries and is consists of foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, fish, poultry and a minimal amount of red meat. Other sources such as healthy fats like olive oil and even a moderate amount of red wine are included. All of these food products are incredibly healthy and beneficial for the body and can be considered a well-rounded nutritious diet due to it containing all of the food groups.

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Scientific research has found it can reduce cardiovascular disease as well as assisting with weight loss, lowering cholesterol, improving rheumatoid arthritis, lowering the risks of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and various cancers. To further enforce how beneficial this diet is to anyone wanting to attempt it, a study was performed in Northern Italy on an elderly population. According to the Journal of the American College of Nutrition (2018), “Our results show that the MD is associated with a lower prevalence of cognitive impairment in an Italian elderly population. The overall dietary pattern, with a synergic intake of protective key foods (i.e, typical single components of the MD pattern), may lead to a delay in the onset of cognitive impairment” (p. 498). The key factors are said to be that the foods included have nutrients with assorted functions such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B and E; which have anti-oxidant and inflammatory effects that can prevent multiple chronic diseases.

Research has not shown many risks in adopting this diet but have discovered that people tend to forget that exercise is equally as important to obtain the full benefits and can turn the benefits into health risks.

Ketogenic Diet

This diet has generated an intense and popular following primarily due to the amazing weight loss effects that can result from it yet is actually a surprisingly old diet, 100 years old. The main target for this diet was to treat child epilepsy. It consists of a high fat, low carbohydrate (less than 20-50 grams a day) and regular protein intake. The foods recommended for this diet are meat, fish and seafood, eggs, natural fat and high fat sauces, high fat diary, nuts, vegetables growing above ground and berries. Supplements to avoid are sugar, starch, beer, fruit and margarine.

The way it functions is by using ketone bodies, which are released by the liver from stored fat, as energy rather than utilizing sugar from the carbohydrates. The procedure into getting the body into ketosis; the proper term of the action in which the ketones released from the liver are used as energy; is meticulous. The person must first deprive themselves from a large quantity of carbohydrates daily, eating protein in ample amounts can disrupt the ketosis process and it typically takes several days for the body to reach that state. Therefore it is rather difficult to maintain this diet for an extended time frame and it is actually suggested to utilize for a brief time.

The benefits seen with this diet apart from child epilepsy and weight loss are diabetes management which can help reduce the need for medication and heart health such as decreasing triglycerides, increasing HDL and decreasing blood pressure. There are many health risks associated with this diet and are as follows: increased level of LDL if not eating enough healthy fats, deficiency in nutrient intake if not eating a wide variety of vegetables, liver problems, kidney problems may arise or worsen if already a preexisting condition, constipation due to low intake of legumes and grains, impaired thinking and mood swings from the sugar withdrawal.

Paleo Diet

The Paleo diet is based on the natural diet that our ancestors (cavemen) had available to them during the Paleolithic era about 2.5 million to 10,000 years ago. The Paleo diet goes by many names such as the Peleolithic diet, Stone Age diet, Hunter-gatherer diet and the Caveman diet. This diet is based on lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Essentially all food eaten is what was hunted or gathered therefore no foods that were considered farmed or used the farming process were consumed. Foods such as dairy products, legumes, and grains were not included in the diet.

The purpose of the Paleo diet is for people to return to the diet of early humans. It is believed that the human body is genetically mismatched to our modern diet due to the introduction of farming. This is known as the “discordance hypothesis.” This hypothesis claims that the body was not able to adapt fast enough to accommodate to the foods that farming brought. Due to the inability to adapt, the body now sees an abundance of diseases like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease and continues to rise today.

As previously stated this diet is comprised of mostly lean meats that are grass fed or wild and fish like salmon, mackerel, and albacore tuna as well as fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Oils from nuts like olive oil or walnut oil is encouraged. The foods that are not approved are as follows: grains such as wheat, oats, and barley; legumes which are beans, lentils, peanuts and peas; dairy products, refined sugar, salt, potatoes, and highly processed foods. It also emphasizes plenty of daily physical activity and drinking water. The demographic that would benefit from this diet are those who would like to lose weight or maintain a healthy body weight as well as those that need assistance planning meals. While beneficial this diet can also be very expensive since it emphasizes on grass-fed meat, wild game and organic foods.

The results in clinical trials on following the Paleo diet include more weight loss, lower triglycerides, better appetite management, improved glucose tolerance, and improved blood pressure. The leading concern is that there are no long-term studies to establish enough benefits and risks of the diet. Other concerns for the Paleo diet include not getting enough fiber, vitamins, nutrients and calcium since whole grains, legumes, and dairy is absent from the diet.

Conclusion

It was enlightening to discover all the technicalities of each diet and how each affect our bodies when followed correctly and incorrectly. Yet the personal favorite is the Mediterranean diet due to having the most positive outcomes and benefits for long term usage with almost no risks. The information gathered on these most popular “Fad Diets” has given plenty of insight on how a person should research before initiating anything in regards to something as important as our health.

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