Plant-Based / Flexitarianism
Unlike many fad diets, which generally focus on what you can’t eat, the plant-based way of eating is centred around what you can eat. This means making plants the fundamental ingredient, such as filling your plate with predominantly veggies, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, unsaturated oils, and whole grains like rolled oats which are a source of protein.
Plant-based doesn’t mean that you are vegetarian or vegan. Rather, you are proportionately choosing more of your foods from plant-based sources allowing people the flexibility they can adapt to their lifestyle, social life or health conditions (aka Flexitarianism).
As for improved health-outcomes, the research to date is pretty promising. A recent systematic review showed beneficial effects of plant-based diets versus conventional diets on weight status, energy metabolism and systemic inflammation in healthy participants, obese and type-2 diabetes patients.
Verdict: Fad until proven long-term
Although fasting bypasses all the debate about what nutrients and foods you can or cannot include, intermittent fasting is characterised by how often you should be eating. Research, however, is still in its infancy and there is not enough evidence to prove intermittent fasting as a viable way to treat many health conditions. As with most diets, the severe energy restriction and associated hunger can make it hard to stick with long-term.
Low-Carb / Keto
A ketogenic eating pattern is a style of eating centred around protein and fats, along with a strict reduction in carbohydrates, which some health experts label as risky. Low-carb intakes forces the body to release ketones – a source of energy that the body uses when it’s burning fat.
Limiting certain carbs means missing many important nutrients, namely fibre from fruit, certain vegetables, legumes and whole grains. Fibre is not only linked to heart health but integral to optimal digestive balance. On average, Australians eat only half the recommended daily amounts of at least 25g of fibre for women and 30g for men – and being on a ketogenic diet will make it harder to meet these targets. In order to avoid some of these risks, a ketogenic diet needs to be well planned to ensure you’re hitting all of your nutritional bases.
Probiotics / Fermented Foods
Probiotics are “friendly bacteria” found naturally in the body, as well as in certain foods and supplements. These micro-organisms can play a key role in keeping the gut healthy and happy.
Probiotics can easily be included in our diets by eating probiotic-rich foods, such as yoghurts with live cultures and fermented foods (i.e. kimchi, fermented drinks, miso and sauerkraut).
To help nourish the friendly bacteria in your gut, it’s important to feed them prebiotic fibre – a type of fermentable fibre that can be used as a metabolic fuel source and can be crucial in building and maintaining a diverse and healthy gut flora. Prebiotic fibre can be found in many plant-based foods including wholegrains, artichoke, legumes, leeks, onion, garlic, and bananas.
Mindfulness has been around for centuries. When linked to eating, mindfulness means listening to your body and tuning into your natural hunger and fullness signals. It’s not a diet (in fact it’s the complete opposite!), rather it’s about paying full attention to what you’re eating and how you’re eating it, encouraging you to bring awareness to your eating, make better food choices and foster a healthy relationship with food.