Nutrition: Food Facts and Fiction (cont.)
The problems: First of all many of these diets don't focus on behavior and lifestyle changes. Some of my favorite fad diets I've heard about are the grapefruit diet, eating by your blood type, or eating by your astrological sign. All of these catch people's attention, but over the long run, think about if it's a diet that includes foods from all of the food groups -- fruits, vegetables, dairy products, etc.
The other question is in terms of analyzing the diets is are they requiring you to purchase a lot of their products and specialized foods? That's something to keep in mind.
One more thing to add that's very important with these low-carb diets: We don't have long-term data or evidence that suggests that these are healthy over the long-term. What we do know, however, is that they can cause some problems, especially if they're restricting specific types of foods, and low-carb diets can cause ketosis, which, over the short-term and long-term, can be problematic, including development of kidney stones or gout.
For example, the low-carb diets tend to be high in protein and fat, which can increase your risk over the long-term of heart disease and even sometimes cancer. So the bottom line is, look between the lines. Read carefully and just because it has a physician's name attached to it doesn't necessarily mean it's right for you. You need to weigh the benefits and the potential risks, and if you have questions you can talk to a dietician.
I think terms such as natural and organic are becoming more and more prevalent. Many food companies are trying to promote the healthful benefits of their food products. As more of these terms are used, there's more consumer demand to define them.
In addition, when health claims are made in relation to certain foods or terms, for example if a food is labeled "to reduce the risk of cancer or heart disease or osteoporosis," then that must be approved by the federal government. In other words, specific health claims cannot be made without approval of the government. So the Food and Drug Administration is one of the organizations at the federal level that works to define these terms for the public.
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