Vegetarian? Vegan? Low carb? Low fat? Ketogenic? Paleolithic?
There are arguments for each of these being the healthiest diet, and proponents of each will be quick to point them out. But who is right? Which diet is truly the best?
Unfortunately, the answer to this question is "it depends". My patients hate hearing it, my friends hate hearing it, and I assume you hate hearing it. This is the closest thing to the truth we have in the diet and nutrition world. How healthy a diet is completely depends on the person. For instance, one person may do well on a diet that includes whole grains, fish, and red meat while the next may feel terrible eating these same things. It depends on each person's metabolism.
With that caveat out of the way, I am going to propose Dr. Harrison Oake’s Best Diet in the WorldTM.
1) No Processed Foods
Go back to the list of eating styles above and think of what each of them have in common: first, they limit - or completely eliminate - processed foods. Processed foods are bad - just ask anyone who works in the healthcare system. Processed foods are bad for a myriad of reasons, starting with their ingredients. Salt, for instance, has been vilified for a long time and over-consumption of it has been associated with increased mortality. And guess what? High sodium levels is a marker for high processed foods intake (it's not necessarily the salt that's bad though).
2) Caloric Restriction
There’s lots of research that shows the majority of us consume more calories than we need. So cutting calories should be a major part of any healthy diet. It alone can lead to weight loss, which although not the only marker for health, it's one of the big ones. Caloric restriction has also been shown to increase lifespan in animal studies.
One thing low carb, low fat, ketogenic, and Weight Watchers, all have in common? Caloric restriction.
3) Eat More Plants
Even if you think you're eating enough vegetables and fruit, eat more. Organic, non-organic, whatever - just eat more of them. I don't think I need to go into the specifics as to why, since we've been told by grandmothers for generations to eat our greens.
4) Enjoy Your Food
Finally, and potentially the most important, enjoy your food. If you love cheesecake, have some every once in a while. If you love chocolate, by all means have some. (Just take it easy with these things). Lots of people will set unrealistic goals for their diets. These people are prone to fall off the wagon in short order. Eat what you love. Just don’t overdo it.
There you have it, Dr. Harrison Oake’s Best Diet in the WorldTM. Eat this way and you're sure to feel better and live longer. You’re welcome.