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Growing interest in the subject of nutrition results in the emergence of numerous dietary trends that attract our attention. Some of them have a proven he alth-promoting effect, others we choose for ethical, financial or environmental reasons. It is worth being aware that some dietary trends are the result of marketing activities and do not serve our he alth in any way. Find out about the most interesting dietary trends in recent years and find out which of them are worth following.

In the modern world, food is no longer just a means of satisfying physiological needs. More and more people are convinced that proper nutrition is one of the conditions for achieving full physical and mental well-being. In order to improve the quality of our life, we increasingly focus on conscious, balanced nutrition. For this reason, many trends in dietetics have arisen. Here are the most important of them.

Immunity Building Diet - Pandemic Nutrition

A diet that supports the functions of the immune system is one of the hottest nutritional trends during a pandemic. In order to protect themselves against coronavirus infection, many people began to pay attention to the contents of their plate.

And rightly so, because properly balanced nutrition is essential for the proper functioning of the immune system. In order to support immunity, we should ensure the correct proportions of macronutrients, supplement nutritional deficiencies and supplement selected microelements.

Macronutrients, i.e. carbohydrates, fats and proteins are the basis of our diet. Especially the last of them - proteins - play a huge role in the immune system. The appropriate level of protein is necessary, among others for the production of antibodies.

To support the immune system, we should consume at least 0.8 g of protein per kilogram of body weight daily . Unlike proteins, fats don't always serve our immune system.

A high-fat diet is pro-inflammatory. Consuming "good", plant-based unsaturated fatty acids (including omega-3) reduces inflammation.

The main component of our diet, carbohydrates, should provide 50-60% of the caloric requirement. It is worth limiting simple sugars (mainly sweets, white flour and sugar) in favor of carbohydratescomplex (groats, rice, whole grains).

Micronutrients, i.e. vitamins and minerals, support the immune system by reducing oxidative stress and having an anti-inflammatory effect.

A he althy, well-balanced diet rich in fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains and legumes ensures their sufficient levels.

Vitamins B, C, D and E, as well as iron and zinc play the most important role for the immune system. Deficiencies of these ingredients impair the body's defenses. During a pandemic, many people decide to supplement their immunity to strengthen their immunity.

It is worth remembering, however, that micronutrients in the most digestible form are found in natural products. Excessive supplementation with anti-inflammatory compounds can paradoxically inhibit the body's defense response necessary to fight microbes.

It is also worth being aware of the side effects of unlimited supplementation of certain substances. For example, high doses of vitamin C may promote kidney stones. A maximum of 1000 mg of vitamin C is considered a safe daily dose.

What products should be added to the diet to protect against infections?It is best to focus on natural sources of antioxidants and bactericidal substances. Garlic, onion and turmeric contain numerous antimicrobial substances. Echinacea preparations also have a healing effect, which strengthens immunity and prevents colds.

It is also worth taking care of the intestinal microflora, which is responsible for the immune function of the intestines. To support its functions, it is worth including fermented products (yoghurt, kefir, buttermilk) and silage in the diet.

Intermittent fasting, i.e. periodic fasting

Intermittent fasting is one of the contemporary dietary trends aimed at weight loss. Contrary to traditional dietary methods based on reducing the number of consumed calories, the basis of the intermittent fasting strategy is time breaks in eating meals. The intermittent fasting model consists of alternating periods of fasting and eating without restrictions.

There are many variants of the diet, assuming specific eating windows throughout the day. For example, the 16/8 model means a 16-hour fast followed by an 8-hour window during which you can eat as much as you want.

Another variant of the diet is the planning of the period of fasting and eating during the week. This is called ADF ( alternate day fasting) model, assuming alternating 24-hour fasting and the followingafter them, days of eating without limits.

As the intermittent fasting model is a recent invention, there is no reliable scientific data on the long-term effects of its use. The available scientific studies show the effectiveness of intermittent fasting in terms of weight loss, however this is comparable to a standard calorie-restricted diet.

The intermittent fasting diet is of interest to some athletes as a method of optimizing body composition (fat loss without affecting muscle tissue).

The research to date does not allow, however, to clearly confirm this thesis. Nutritionists also point out that intermittent fasting is associated with an intense feeling of hunger, which can lead to binge eating during the eating windows.

It should also be emphasized that nutrition in the intermittent fasting model is absolutely contraindicated in pregnant and lactating women, people with diabetes, children and adolescents and chronically ill people.

Plant-based diet and its varieties

According to the latest research, in recent years up to 60% of Poles declare a reduction in the amount of meat they eat.

The plant-based diet is booming - vegetarianism and veganism are one of the hottest dietary trends. The decision to give up eating animal products may be motivated by he alth reasons, but also ethical or ecological reasons.

People for whom a purely plant-based diet is too much sacrifice are increasingly opting for flexitarianism. This model of nutrition is "flexible vegetarianism" - a diet based on plant foods, but allowing the occasional consumption of meat.

Can plant-based nutrition be wholesome? According to the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, plant-based diets are safe at every stage of a person's life. Experts emphasize that a plant-based diet can be used by children and adolescents, athletes and pregnant women.

The basic condition that must be met after excluding meat or animal products from the diet is the proper balance of meals. If you want to switch to a vegetarian or vegan diet, it is worth consulting a dietitian to learn the rules of composing meals and supplementing the necessary nutrients.

A properly conducted plant-based diet ensures a high concentration of fiber, carotenoids, vitamins C and E and essential fatty acids (EFAs). However, it is worth knowing that the dietvegetarian and vegan do not provide adequate concentrations of vitamin B12, which is mainly present in animal products.

In addition to the need for vitamin B12 supplementation, people on a plant-based diet should supplement vitamin D and include products containing zinc and calcium in their diet. When preparing meals, you should also remember about the sources of protein - for example, legumes (beans, chickpeas, lentils).

A properly balanced plant-based diet does not lead to nutritional deficiencies. On the contrary, numerous studies confirm its benefits in relation to many diseases. A plant-based diet helps to reduce body weight, reduces the risk of ischemic heart disease, has a positive effect on lipid metabolism, and reduces the risk of hypertension and diabetes. It has also been proven that people who do not eat meat have a lower risk of developing colorectal cancer.

Paleo - the diet of our ancestors

The paleo diet is a model of nutrition referring to the traditions of prehistoric hunter-gatherer tribes. The basis of the paleo diet is unprocessed food - meat, fish, fruit, vegetables and seeds.

People on the paleo diet exclude grains, processed dairy, milk, sugar and sweets from their menu. Supporters of the paleo diet emphasize that this model of nutrition is closest to the natural, original way of life of our ancestors.

The unquestionable advantage of the paleo diet is the abundance of fiber, vitamins and minerals that come from fresh fruit and vegetables. By limiting the consumption of sugar and starch products, the paleo diet reduces the caloric content of the menu, thus promoting weight reduction.

The paleo diet is associated with high meat consumption, making it a high-protein diet. Excess protein may burden the liver and kidneys, therefore the paleo diet is contraindicated in chronically ill people.

Other disadvantages of the paleo diet are its high cholesterol content, the lack of he althy grain products, and a calcium deficiency that can lead to osteoporosis. So far, there is a lack of reliable scientific data on the efficacy and safety of the long-term use of the paleo diet.

Mindful eating - techniques of conscious eating

Can food affect our well-being? Supporters of the mindful eating trend argue that the way of eating them is as important as the composition of meals. The techniques of conscious eating are derived from the mindfulness trend and are the opposite of hurried, stressed and unreasonable eating. BasicMindful eating assumptions are conscious food choices, paying attention to the nutritional value of meals and full concentration while eating.

Conscious eating excludes eating while using the phone, watching TV or reading the newspaper. Full concentration on "here and now" allows you to focus on the sensations flowing from the body. Thanks to mindful eating, we have a chance to better recognize signals coming from the hunger and satiety center.

Conscious eating can improve our relationship with food - it reduces the risk of unreasonable overeating and promotes the choice of he althier, more nutritious meals.

A lot of scientific research is currently being conducted to check the effectiveness of mindful eating in reducing body weight and treating eating disorders.

Climatarianism, or a diet for the climate

Climatarianism is a movement promoting the reduction of consumption of products, the production of which causes adverse climate change. More and more often it is also said about a "planetary diet", i.e. a friendly planet.

Both trends are part of the constantly increasing environmental awareness of consumers and the growing threat of a climate catastrophe.

Behind the choice of climatarianism is not necessarily he alth reasons - the main motivation for this diet is concern for the natural environment. Can we really help our planet by changing our diet?

The basic assumption of climatarianism is to reduce the consumption of meat, the production of which is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions. Instead of highly processed foods, the diet is dominated by plant products from local, seasonal crops.

Climatarianism also involves abandoning the consumption of products whose production is unethical and involves exploitation or degradation of the natural environment (palm oil is one such example).

An important aspect of the diet for the climate is the zero waste movement, which promotes the maximum reduction of food waste. The most radical form of protecting food from waste is freeganism. The basis of the freegan diet are products discarded by supermarkets or restaurants that are still suitable for consumption.

It may seem that an individual's food choices will not affect the fate of the planet. However, when ecological nutrition becomes a global trend, the impact on the food industry becomes a reality.

The more consumers are aware of the ethical dimension of nutrition, the more likely they are to make real changes.

Elimination diets - gluten-free, lactose-free,FODMAP

The main assumption of elimination diets is to exclude a specific product (or group of products) from the menu. Most of the elimination diets belong to the so-called medical diets, i.e. recognized methods of treating specific diseases.

The most fashionable of them - a gluten-free diet - is the only effective treatment for celiac disease, i.e. gluten intolerance. Elimination diets are part of the treatment of, among others, food allergies and hypersensitivity.

A lactose-free diet is used in lactose intolerance. Conversely, the FODMAP (reduced content of fermenting saccharides) diet is recommended for some forms of irritable bowel syndrome.

Elimination diets, however, are not only used by patients with gastrointestinal diseases. The gluten-free diet enjoys unwavering popularity, despite the fact that only 1% of the Polish population has a confirmed diagnosis of celiac disease. In some people, the improvement of well-being after excluding gluten from the diet is explained by the existence of the so-called non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

Food hypersensitivity may also be related not to gluten itself, but to other proteins contained in grains. In some people, the use of excluding diets results from a strong belief that certain products are harmful.

The psychological nocebo effect plays a part in this phenomenon - the side effects of consuming gluten or other "harmful" substances are emotional and result from our negative expectations.

What should you remember when deciding on an elimination diet? First of all, about the proper balancing of meals. Properly composed elimination diets are not harmful to he alth, as long as they provide the right amount of macro- and microelements. Therefore, it is worth trying to ensure that the elimination diet is not deficient. Consultation with a dietitian may help in establishing the correct menu.

Superfoods - what is superfood?

The term superfoods literally means superfood, i.e. products with above-average nutritional and pro-he alth values.

Superfoods is not a scientific concept, but rather the result of intense marketing efforts by food producers. The list of superfoods includes many exotic and expensive ingredients, such as goji berries, chia seeds, quinoa, spirulina, pervuia, green barley and acai seeds. And although it is difficult to deny these products a high content of he alth-promoting ingredients, their real "healing" effect on the body in most cases has not been confirmed in scientific studies.

It's worth remembering that the occasional inclusion of superfoods in your diet isno less important than our entire diet. If we do not maintain a he althy, balanced diet on a daily basis, occasional eating of superfoods will not reverse the effects of our usual choices.

Currently, the concept of superfoods, instead of exotic inventions, is increasingly promoting local, fresh and seasonal products.

The so-called Polish superfoods include, among others:

  • strawberries,
  • blueberries,
  • cranberry,
  • aronia,
  • linseed,
  • honey,
  • onion,
  • garlic,
  • silage,
  • kale
  • or millet.

Incorporating these ingredients into your diet is easier, cheaper and more accessible, and their ingredients are just as rich as traditional superfoods.

Chronodiet - to the rhythm of the biological clock

Chronodiet is a diet in which the time of eating meals plays a dominant role. The originators of the chronodiet claim that adjusting me altimes to the biological clock brings numerous he alth benefits.

The secretion of appetite-regulating hormones, juices and digestive enzymes varies throughout the day. Adapting the rhythm of meals to natural metabolic changes is to ensure the optimal way of nourishment. Is it really so?

Chronodiet predicts eating three meals a day. Breakfast, as the most abundant of them (40% of the daily energy requirement) should consist mainly of complex carbohydrates. The other two meals are composed primarily of proteins and fats with the addition of vegetables. Limiting carbohydrate consumption in the second part of the day is designed to activate fat reserves and promote weight reduction.

Compliance with the chronodiet requires a regular, stabilized rhythm of life. Research shows that people who work shifts, including night shifts, are more likely to consume excess calories.

Eating most of your energy needs in the first half of the day and avoiding overeating in the evening seems to be in line with your body's internal rhythm. So far, it has not been unequivocally proven whether the weight loss effect in the chronodiet is the result of eating meals at certain times or simply a reduction in the number of calories consumed.

Ketogenic diet

The ketogenic diet is one of the most radical nutritional models. Its main assumption is the maximum reduction in the consumption of carbohydrates, which are mainly the energy fuel of our body.

The ketogenic diet produces a state similar tofasting, in which fats become the basic metabolic substrate. Cells deprived of glucose begin to burn fatty acids, and the products of these changes are the so-called ketone bodies. A high concentration of ketones in the blood is called ketosis, which is why the ketogenic diet is named.

The effectiveness of the ketogenic diet in reducing body weight, improving athletic performance or treating various diseases is the subject of many scientific studies. So far, the proven recommendation for a ketogenic diet applies to only one condition: drug-resistant epilepsy.

By switching the nerve cells to burn ketones, there are changes in transmission in the nervous system that can reduce the frequency of seizures.

High hopes are placed on the studies on the effectiveness of the ketogenic diet in the treatment of cancer. Starving cancer cells by depriving them of glucose supply seems to be a promising idea for cancer therapies. Unfortunately, the effectiveness and safety of such a method of treatment have not yet been clearly confirmed.

The ketogenic diet is a radical model of nutrition that should be used only under strict indications and under the supervision of a physician. The "fashion" for a ketogenic diet without he alth indications is not only unjustified, but it can be harmful.

As a high-fat diet, it carries the risk of causing lipid disorders, overloading the liver and cardiovascular diseases. The ketogenic diet is grain-free, fruit-free and vegetable-free, which carries the risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

Mediterranean diet - the queen of he althy diets

The Mediterranean diet is considered to be one of the he althiest nutrition models. Its unwavering popularity is due to, inter alia, from the positive opinions of numerous scientific societies and the growing number of studies that confirm its effectiveness in the prevention and treatment of diseases.

In this year's Best Diets 2022 ranking published by the U.S. News & World Report, the Mediterranean diet ranked first as the he althiest and most effective way to eat.

The eating habits of the Mediterranean people should be a source of inspiration when planning a menu, regardless of where you live.

What are the characteristics of the Mediterranean diet?

Eating fresh fruit and vegetables daily, eating little animal fats and replacing them with olive oil, eating fish and lean dairy products instead of red meat - these are the basic featuresthis diet. In addition, moderate consumption of red wine and regular physical activity are part of the Mediterranean lifestyle.

What are the benefits of the Mediterranean diet?

First of all, it protects us against cardiovascular diseases - ischemic heart disease, hypertension and atherosclerosis. Additionally, the Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of developing diabetes, dementia and cancer.

Heart disease risk has been shown to drop by up to 30% with the Mediterranean diet. Importantly, this model of nutrition has no side effects and can be safely used over the long term.

DASH diet - an effective weapon in the fight against hypertension

The DASH diet is another example of a pro-he alth diet with proven scientific effects. The acronym DASH comes from the English name of the scientific study that evaluated its effectiveness.

Dietary Approches to Stop Hypertension is a medical experiment that in the late 1990s showed that blood pressure could only be lowered through diet.

In addition to the proven antihypertensive effect, the DASH diet also prevents other cardiovascular diseases, including atherosclerosis and diabetes.

The basis of the DASH diet is patient education about the benefits and risks of consuming certain products. Many of the principles of the DASH diet coincide with those of the Mediterranean diet.

The DASH diet is based on reducing fats (especially of animal origin), low meat consumption and a significant increase in the consumption of vegetables, fruits, nuts and lean dairy products.

The basic source of energy is whole grain cereal products. It is also recommended that you avoid sodium-rich foods such as table s alt, processed meat and fish products, canned food, and s alty snacks.

Importantly, the DASH diet is recommended not only for people diagnosed with arterial hypertension, but also as a preventive method in people with the so-called high normal blood pressure (blood pressure is normal but higher than optimal).

Krzysztof BialaziteA medical student at Collegium Medicum in Krakow, slowly entering the world of constant challenges of the doctor's work. She is particularly interested in gynecology and obstetrics, paediatrics and lifestyle medicine. A lover of foreign languages, travel and mountain hiking.

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