Does it seem like the advice on how and what to eat swings from one extreme to another? One perspective says avoid fat, the other says fat won’t hurt you. A headline warns about the dangers of red meat and another says you need more protein. Unfortunately, this confusing barrage is likely to continue, and we are left to decipher what is best for us. How do you make decisions amidst all the conflicting information?
The first question I ask is – where is the common ground? For instance, if you are comparing keto-style eating to vegetarian, both approaches proclaim the benefits of consuming non-starchy vegetables. Plants are the clear peacemakers when it comes to dietary conflict; they are considered good for you in most approaches except a strict carnivorous diet.
Secondly, there is no debate that keeping blood sugar stable is the way to reduce inflammation and disease. Whichever dietary approach you would like to try, it is always important to eat a “low-glycemic” diet – in other words, choosing or combining foods that pair fat and fiber with higher-starch foods, helping to lower insulin and inflammation. Another tactic that supports stable blood sugar is to start your meal with your vegetables – this coats your digestive tract with a cellulose layer that slows the absorption of starch in the later part of the meal.
Another question to ask yourself is whether the diet you are considering is high in whole foods and low in processed foods. In all the perspectives about diet, there is no question that processed foods are harmful to our health. So, no matter what you choose, whole foods are clearly best.
The next test is to consider the source. Is the entity pushing a certain product or dietary approach going to benefit financially from your decision? The principles of healthy eating do not depend on you buying the latest, greatest pill to counteract a food you eat. If you don’t tolerate lactose, you should avoid it and only use a pill for the occasional accidental ingestion. If you want to eat beans, pressure cook them or eat them from a BPA-free can – then you don’t need to take an anti-lectin supplement.
When choosing whether to eat high-or-low fat, gluten or not, meat or plant-based, Mediterranean or Keto, you will want to take your own health condition into consideration. For most people lowering processed foods, increasing fruit and vegetable consumption, choosing the highest quality of dairy or meat options and keeping starchy foods in balance with higher protein or fiber at a meal, will lead to better health. For further specifics, it is wise to discuss your plans with a trusted health expert.
I have been honored to share my health journey and perspectives about the evolution of medicine with you. This column will be my last for a while as I focus on new health initiatives from my practice at XO Health and the Braincare Performance Center. Thank you for your readership and I wish you extra-ordinary health!
Dr. Brossfield is the founding physician of XO Health and medical director of Brain Performance Center and can be reached at (760) 573.2761.