5 Popular but surprisingly unhealthy diets

The promises of the most popular diets - how true and justified are they? What are the health risks associated with following these diets?

One of the most common problems with weight loss is - that the results achieved do not correspond to the efforts made to achieve them.

This usually happens when following the "celebrity diet". If you also had a personal chef and nutritionist whose only concern would be to preserve your beauty, perhaps these diets could help you too.

Unfortunately, we don't have it all.

And media accounts of diets tend to be very simplistic and focus only on pounds lost (which are often regained within months) while glossing over the health risks associated with dieting.

Here are 5 currently popular diets in the world, each of which is "healthier" than the other.

 

1 Acid Alkaline or pH diet

The diet is based on the premise that the food we eat affects the pH balance of our blood.

The Acid Alkaline diet classifies foods by how much acid they produce when digested.

People who adhere to this diet believe that replacing acid-forming foods with alkali-forming foods can improve their health.

Therefore:

  • It is necessary to avoid foods that supposedly "acidify" the body, such as meat, dairy products, fish, eggs, cereals, and alcohol;
  • It is necessary to consume a lot of products that create an alkaline environment, for example – fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes. However, not all fruits, vegetables, and nuts are "good" since some of them can still "acidify" your body;
  • Products that create a neutral environment, such as starch, sugar, and natural fats, should be limited.
 

Accordingly – the purpose of the acid-base diet is to maintain an ideal pH balance – and so that the body does not become too "acidic" (which can cause metabolic or respiratory acidosis), meat, sugar, and processed foods should be excluded, and more "alkaline" foods such as fruits, vegetables, tofu should be eaten, nuts, seeds, and legumes.

Following this diet promises weight loss as well as a reduced risk of arthritis and cancer.

Sound promising?

Or not?

The positive effects of the diet are largely due to:

  • Plant-based products (vegetables and fruits), which are usually too little in the modern human diet;
  • Refusal of ultra-processed foods, the proportion of which in our menu is too high
 

That is, a positive effect occurs due to an increase in the proportion of vegetables and fruits in the diet and a decrease in the proportion of ultra-processed foods. This has nothing to do with "improving" blood pH.

 

There is no serious research on the effectiveness and impact of an Acid Alkaline diet on our health, but cutting out whole food groups is a bad idea, to say the least, as it significantly increases the risk of various nutrient deficiencies.

In addition, the idea that by excluding certain foods from the diet, it is possible to regulate the pH level of our blood is quite strange, because:

  • The pH level varies significantly in different parts of the body. For example, in the stomach, the pH is from 2 to 3.5, which is a very acidic environment, and this acidity is necessary for the breakdown of food;
  • Human blood is always slightly alkaline, with a pH in the range of 7.36 to 7.44, and if your blood pH drops below that, the result can be fatal. However, such changes in blood pH levels only occur in certain diseases, such as ketoacidosis, which can be caused by the keto diet, diabetes, starvation, or excessive alcohol consumption;
  • There are studies that confirm that food can affect the pH level of urine (with which the body removes what it does not need), but there are no studies confirming that we can in any way influence the pH level of blood with food.
 

That is, our body itself regulates the pH level well both in the blood and in other parts of our body.

 

2 Paleo diet

Based on the premise that we are not genetically suited to the modern diet, Paleo encourages us to eat the way our hunter-gatherer ancestors did 2.6 million years ago.

The Paleo Diet recommends:

  • Eat meat, fish, root vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds;
  • Eliminate grains, legumes, dairy products, oils, and all processed foods from your diet.
 

Read more about the Paleo diet HERE.

 

Although the Paleo diet shares some of the hallmarks of a healthy diet (such as cutting out ultra-processed foods), the diet, like most fad diets, cuts out whole food groups, meaning a high risk of some nutrient deficiencies. And if the body does not get everything it needs - it can no longer function properly and various health problems begin (including skin, hair, and nail health problems).

It is also not clear how the authors of the diet know exactly how our ancestors ate. Especially when we consider that living conditions and dietary habits were and still are drastically different in different parts of the world.

Also, our lifestyle, genetics, and intestinal microflora are drastically different from our ancestors in the Paleolithic period, so even if the Paleo diet authors' assumptions about the eating habits of our ancestors were correct and you managed to avoid nutrient deficiencies, the diet would probably do more harm than good.

 

3 Whole 30

The Whole 30 diet is a very restrictive 30-day diet that many follow to lose weight. Some to identify food intolerances or ease digestive problems.

The program provides for the exclusion of alcohol, sugar, cereals, legumes, dairy products, and food additives/fortifiers from the diet for 30 days. It is advertised as a complete lifestyle change, not just a diet, for example: "Whole 30 is like a reset button for your health, habits, and attitude to food. For 30 days, you will exclude foods that, according to scientific literature and clinical experience, are problematic for your habits, regulation of hormone and sugar levels, digestion, immune system, and inflammation."

That is, restart your body and life will be beautiful afterward -😊.

Proponents of Whole30 rave about its health and emotional benefits, while critics say it's just another baseless short-term fasting diet.

The basic idea behind Whole30 is simple:

  • For 30 days, you completely exclude food products that could harm your health in any way;
  • After the first 30 days, you gradually start using the excluded products, while controlling their effect on the body.
 

As a food intolerance test, this method is likely to work, although:

  • It is easier to determine the intolerance of the product by excluding some "suspicious" products from your diet for 2-4 weeks, and then starting to use them one at a time again, instead of immediately eliminating all potentially "dangerous" products;
  • Such a strictly restrictive diet will almost certainly lead to at least some nutritional deficiency. And how will you determine whether the positive effect of resuming the use of excluded foods is due to the fact that you have "restarted" your body, or because your body has started to receive the nutrients it needs again - 😊.
 

If you have problems with emotional eating – try to find and eliminate the cause, or if you are unable to do so – seek the help of a psychologist.

The Whole 30 is by no means a sustainable diet program and can lead to serious side effects such as a slowed metabolism, hormonal imbalances, and many digestive issues.

 

4 Ketogenic diet

The basic idea – by significantly reducing the intake of carbohydrates, the body for energy production begins to use ketones (beta-oxybutyric acid, acetic acid, and acetone), which are obtained by breaking down fats, not carbohydrates.

It sounds very nice – "burn fat by eating fat."

But, it is silent that:

  • Some organs can only get energy from carbohydrates;
  • Ketone substances are acidic, and as their concentration increases, the pH level of the blood also changes. Accordingly, the risks of metabolic acidosis, anemia, and oxidative stress are very high;
  • Obtaining energy from ketones chemically occurs in a completely different way than with glucose (carbohydrates) - diet leads to significant changes in the energy metabolism of the body.
 

Sounds pretty scary.

So why don't people on a keto diet usually experience these problems?

The answer is simple — because they only think they are following a keto diet, but in fact, they only take pills and products labeled with the word "keto".

That is, the process of ketosis (fats are used for energy, not glucose) has never started in their body.

In order to activate this "starvation mode", the total amount of carbohydrates taken during the day must be reduced to about 5 to 10 percent (we usually get about 60 % of energy from carbohydrates). It is not easy and comes with many unpleasant side effects.

In any case, if you want to try this diet, then only under the constant supervision of a doctor.

Read more about the Keto diet HERE.

 

5 Detox and Juice Cleanse

Among all the quick slimming solutions, this is probably the most popular.

Moreover, it is one of the most unreasonable and ineffective.

The basic idea is that toxins and many other harmful substances accumulate in the human body, so from time to time the body needs to be cleaned of them.

How to do it?

With Detox diets and Juice Cleanse, because juices are healthy.

 

There is absolutely no serious clinical study confirming that detox diets and the use of juices help to cleanse the body of toxins, etc. to some extent.

But, there are a lot of studies that confirm that our body copes very well with the elimination of harmful substances on its own.

Everything that our body does not need is excreted through the intestines, kidneys, lungs, and skin. This process has been perfected throughout our evolution and worked successfully long before the advent of detox diets.

 

Key takeaways

New "super healthy" and "super effective" diets appear every year. And there are always people who have reduced their excess weight with the help of these diets. Including some celebrities.

But.

If there really were any diet or miracle drug that could be guaranteed to eliminate excess weight, there wouldn't be so many fat people in the world.

Remember that being overweight is the biggest health problem today - therefore it is also a giant business and there are many who want to make money there, often without thinking about the consequences.

So forget about magic diets and fast weight loss without any effort. Yes, it is possible that by following a fad diet, you will really lose weight, but do you need to risk your health for this?

Is it worth it?

And is it really the weight that you want to lose?

Maybe it's better to choose a sustainable strategy – to eat healthy and balanced food that provides everything your body needs?

Eat deliciously and be healthy!

 

Sources:

Acid-Base Homeostasis

Metabolic acidosis: pathophysiology, diagnosis and management

The Question of Acid and Alkali Forming Foods

Potential renal acid load of foods and its influence on urine pH

Diabetic ketoacidosis: evaluation and treatment

Starvation Ketoacidosis as a Cause of Unexplained Metabolic Acidosis in the Perioperative Period

Alcoholic ketoacidosis

Official whole30 program rules

Diet-induced Ketoacidosis in a Non-diabetic

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