There are many diets to choose from if you want to lose weight, too many to list. But what if you want a good diet that is a way of life, for good health and longevity? There are really only a few credible candidates.
The Mediterranean Diet is one of a few diets that have been discovered by observing the good health and long lives of people from a particular part of the world. Those living around the Mediterranean area of Southern Europe have been found to enjoy such benefits.
The diets of people in this area tend to be abundant in fruits and vegetables. Olive oil is used as the main source of fat. Meat consumption is low. Wine consumption is moderate. One of the paradoxes of this diet is that fat consumption is relatively high but cardiovascular rates are low. Salt consumption is also high but with apparently no ill effects.
Why is this diet so healthy despite these paradoxes? It may be that some of the ingredients in this diet confer a protective effect. Ultimately, scientists, doctors and nutritionists do not fully understand why. Activity is also likely to play a part as Mediterranean populations tend to be more physically active.
If you want to try this diet, don’t just pick and choose the foods that you like. See it as a complete lifestyle to try and adopt. If you are not fully committed to it then you may not enjoy the benefits as you had intended.
In a similar vein to the last diet, people from Okinawa and the Ryukyu Islands of Japan were observed to have one of the highest life expectancies in the world.
Their diet is lower in calories than the typical Japanese diet and is also rich in vegetables (mainly plant based), low in sugar and low in meat. Almost no dairy is consumed.
It is widely regarded that a combination of diet, environment, lifestyle and genetics contributes to the longevity of people from this region. By assuming their diet and lifestyle, you will probably be able to live more healthily than the typical westerner. Whether you can increase your longevity significantly is open to debate.
Animal studies have shown that consuming a reduced amount of calories per day in food can significantly extend lifespan. Research on humans has shown that it can reduce cardiovascular disease and improve memory. Primate studies have shown reduced incidence of diabetes, cancer and other conditions.
Many diets use calorie restriction. For example, the Okinawa Diet is 20% lower in calories compared to the average Japanese diet. The CRON-diet is highly focused on calorie restriction and generally aims to restrict calories by around 20%.
Raw Food Diet
The raw food diet has many forms but the idea behind it is that human biology has not adapted to modern life and that we should be eating like primates i.e. a diet with no meat and rich in fruits and/or vegetables (to varying degrees). Raw foodists (and others) believe that meat is unhealthy and does humans far more harm than good.
There are two main variations in the raw food diet. In the first, most calories are obtained from fat and require eating large amounts of nuts and seeds. The other is to eat a diet high in fruit content (up to 90% of calories). This latter diet is considered to be closer to what most primates eat.
Many people turn to raw foodism when they develop serious health conditions such as Type II diabetes, for example. Many claim to be cured by this diet. Nearly all raw foodists claim huge increases in energy and vitality and many swear to never go back to their old eating habits.
It should be noted that the raw food diet is somewhat incompatible with the eating habits of most of the population. It can be difficult to dine with friends as the restrictions may seem excessive to others. It may also increase your frequency of using the toilet.