There are so many different diet camps these days proclaiming that their diet is the healthiest to help you achieve your health and fitness goals. From paleo to vegan. If you were to listen to all of these diet camps and food dogma, your diet would probably look something like this:
However, little do you know that all of these diets have two things in common? The first is that they all push people to eat more whole, unprocessed food. Secondly, those who follow these diets are likely to be more conscious about their diet choices.
Focusing on these two habits can make a huge difference to anyone’s health and help them reach their goals. People who eat mostly whole foods and are conscious about their diet choices, tend to be healthier than those who don’t.
I’m sure you have heard it before where people tell you the immediate difference they felt after going on a certain diet like a juice cleanse. This happens because when switching from a really crappy diet that is high in processed foods to any of these diet camps, the person will automatically begin to eat healthier, more nutrient dense food and eat less of the other crap. However, after a while these people can run into issues, because the diet is too restrictive, therefore they miss out on certain food groups to gain important nutrients.
Research shows that individuals who eat and adhere to a diet that mostly consists of whole, minimally processed, nutrient rich foods such as meats, fish, eggs, dairy, seafood, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, whole grains, fruit, vegetables and healthy fats like coconut oil, butter, animals fats, olive oil and nut oils, tend to be healthier than those who don’t.
Humans have always eaten a wide variety of foods depending on where they lived in the world. This means we are adapted to eat all kinds of foods. This is clearly demonstrated by examining the traditional diets of various tribes and ethnic groups throughout the world. For example, the Arctic Inuit and African Masai ate traditional diets that were very high in fat and animal products with very few vegetables. Conversely, the Kitavans in the South Pacific ate traditional diets that are low in fat but very high in vegetables and starchy carbs. Crazy differences here, yet all of these traditional cultures were relatively healthy people with minimal incidences of cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity etc.
This is only possible because the human body is amazingly adaptable to a host of different dietary conditions. What all these traditional diets have in common is that they are based around minimally processed, whole, nutrient dense foods.
So although the different diet camps (e.g. paleo or vegan) may focus on different macronutrients ratios, they all encourage the eating of more whole foods. And that may be one of the most important nutrition interventions of all, regardless of the protein, carb, and fat breakdowns.
This however does not mean you should sit in a diet camp. Because a lot of the time they are very restrictive and demonise other healthy/whole-food groups, which I believe is not helpful, even harmful. A prime example is the demonisation of meat by vegans. Red meat is a nutrient dense food in the context of a good diet. As I have mentioned, the goal is to eat more quality types of food and to eat a wide variety, rather than sticking to restrictions such as low carb, low fat or vegetarian. This will ensue you get a wide variety of benefits from various types of foods.
Obviously, certain macronutrient ratios can be tailored to help people achieve certain goals (e.g. athletes), however for the general person, they should focus on eating lots of whole foods in the form of both plant and animal sources.
To sum it all up, just focus on eating as much whole, minimally processed foods as possible and I am sure you will see a huge change in your health.