By Adrian Sparrow
The food we eat has a significant impact on our bodies. Foods that are full of vitamins and minerals help the body repair itself and function well, while processed foods high in fats and empty sugars have a more harmful effect. When you eat healthily, you can reduce your risk for many conditions and diseases.
Because every person has different health needs, everybody also has different dietary needs. One person might have a higher family risk of heart disease, while another may not have to worry about cardiac health but needs to keep prediabetes in check. Here are a few research-backed diets that offer different benefits for different symptoms.
“Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension” (DASH) is a research-supported diet to help treat high blood pressure specifically. DASH is a heart-friendly diet because it limits saturated and trans fats. DASH also increases the intake of nutrients such as potassium and magnesium that can help control blood pressure.
The DASH diet focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk, fish, poultry, beans, and nuts; while limiting sodium, added sugars, and red meat. This diet plan defines a specific serving size and number for each category: for a 2000-calorie diet, this equals 6-8 servings of grains, 4-5 servings each of fruits and vegetables, 4-5 servings of seeds, nuts or beans, 2-3 servings of low-fat dairy, 2-3 servings of fats and oils, and two or fewer servings of meat, poultry or fish.
The Mediterranean diet, based on traditional eating patterns in Mediterranean countries, can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, reduces the risk and symptoms of diabetes, and improves sleep quality in older adults. It also works well for managing weight loss, with its emphasis on fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, and legumes.
A Mediterranean diet is a pattern of eating that’s comprised of a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and healthy fats such as olive oil and nuts; while including moderate amounts of seafood and low amounts of dairy and red meat. Red wine is allowed and even encouraged in moderation.
The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carb diet that can help with weight loss and diabetes and manage symptoms of multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. By lowering blood sugar and insulin, while drastically reducing carb intake, your body enters ketosis, when your body burns fat for energy instead of glucose (which comes from carbs).
The keto diet is based on eating foods like meat, fish, eggs, butter, cheese, nuts, healthy oils, and lots of low-carb vegetables. It’s essential to cut out all sugary foods and drinks, grains, starches, fruits, and legumes that are heavy in carbs.
The Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) aims to reduce inflammation and other symptoms caused by autoimmune diseases, including lupus, IBD, and psoriasis. Autoimmune diseases are caused by various factors, including infection, stress, inflammation, and genetics.
The AIP diet involves two phases: the elimination phase and the reintroduction phase. First, foods and medications that negatively affect the gut are entirely avoided for 1-3 months. This includes grains, legumes, eggs, dairy, alcohol, coffee, food additives, and NSAIDs such as ibuprofen.
Once symptoms are reduced, and health improves, a person can reintroduce foods one at a time based on their tolerance. This allows for a broader diet while carefully avoiding the foods that contribute to symptoms. Reintroducing foods should take 5-7 days to ensure no new symptoms before adding another food.
While food can help reduce the risk of certain diseases, it can’t compensate for other lifestyle or genetic factors that contribute to the disease. Talk with your healthcare provider before making significant changes to your diet so you can stay safe and healthy while managing symptoms.
- Single Care | The best diets for 15 common health conditions
- The NeuLine Clinic | Food for Thought: Healthy Eating Leads to Healthier Lives
- Healthline | Can Food Act as Medicine? All You Need to Know
- Medical News Today | Our guide to the Mediterranean diet
- Harvard School of Public Health | Diet Review: DASH