Watching what you eat is not a new trend, but this idea reached new levels in the past decade. People, looking to lose weight or resolve medical issues, eliminate entire food groups in a quest for success. Gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, soy-free, fat-free, and low-carb are just a few of the popular buzz words, but are there any merits to these elimination diets?
Nutritionists agree that people with food intolerances can relieve symptoms and learn a lot about their bodies by temporarily eliminating some foods, but cutting out food groups for extended periods could lead to nutritional deficiencies and other complications.
Low-carb diets promote weight loss, but they can also lead to decreased energy. Carbohydrates are easier to digest than proteins, so the body uses them as the primary source of fuel. When you diminish this primary fuel source, your metabolism slows down, which is counterproductive to weight loss. Initially, you will lose weight on zero-carb diets, but the weight loss results from loss of fluids and muscles – not fat. Low-carb diets also slow down glycogen production, which is essential for meeting future energy needs.
Gluten-free diets also support weight loss and reduce allergies. However, gluten-free alternatives are expensive, and dieters face an unpleasant consequence: diarrhea. Swapping your usual pasta, breads, and oatmeal for raw vegetables and salads can cause loose stools as you increase your intake of insoluble fiber. Gluten-free foods rarely contain enough roughage to slow down digestive transit.
It’s common for Paleo dieters to suffer from abdominal pain, gas, and constipation as the small intestines absorb all the macronutrients in the proteins and fat and do not transmit waste to the colon. The absence of breads, grains, fruits, and root vegetables from the diet also limits soluble fiber from the diet, which is crucial for healthy bowel movement.
Modern cleansing diets call for the elimination of multiple foods. However, a major side effect of a prolonged detox diet is bloating. Raw vegetables and nuts spend more time in the stomach and can lead to discomfort and bloating. Softer cooked foods balance out the harsh grains and reduce bloating.
5. Weight Loss
Most people welcome weight loss as a pleasant side effect of elimination diets, but what if you’re not trying to lose weight? If you’re eliminating foods for health reasons, consult your nutritionist to find substitutes that will help you maintain your weight.
6. Chronic Inflammation
Limiting fruits and vegetables and increasing your fat and protein intake can lead to chronic inflammation. Protein increases lean muscle fat but it also boosts oxidation stress and disease promoting inflammation. One way to reduce the dangers of a high-protein diet is to up your intake of fruits and vegetables especially avocados, broccoli, arugula, Brussels sprouts and apples.
Diets that restrict fruits and vegetables have been associated with increased risks of cancer. Fruits and vegetables stimulate the production of bicarbonate, which balances acid in the body. When you consume large amounts of proteins and fat, it’s essential that you also eat lots of fruits and vegetables to manage the body’s acid load and reduce your risk of cancer.
8. Nutritional deficiencies
When you eliminate foods from your diet, you could deprive your body of valuable nutrients such as antioxidants, vitamins, proteins, fiber and minerals. Nutritional deficiencies put your body at risk of heart disease, cancer and other disorders.
Carb-free diets lower blood sugar and can lead to mental impairment. When your body’s carb levels decline, it can reduce serotonin production in the brain. Without sufficient serotonin, you might suffer from depression, memory loss, sleep deprivation and other neurological related disorders.
10. Weight gain
The success of any weight loss program depends on the long term results. Many eliminations diets increase the risk of regaining weight if you reintroduce the eliminated foods to your diet. Before you eliminate foods for weight loss, make sure you can maintain your diet for the long haul.
Health is wealth. No diet is worth trying if it might affect your well-being. Listen to your body, make healthy choices and make sure you get enough nutrients on a daily basis. Eating any food in moderation is the best option.