• Jamie Sculley, ND

A Quick Overview of 6 Popular Diets to Improve Your Overall Health



Many of us are familiar with what we "should" eat to stay healthy. We know we should get more vegetables and fruit, whole grains, drink more water and eat less sugar. There isn't a one-size-fits-all diet that's good for everyone so I'm going to give an overview of different kinds of diets here.


Mediterranean Diet

A really well studied, balanced and healthy diet is the Mediterranean Diet. It's been found to be especially good for heart health but you can use it as a general guideline for an overall healthy diet. There are also many resources and cookbooks to easily incorporate this way of eating into your lifestyle.


Here's a quick outline of this diet:

  • Eat more: fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, fish & seafood (2x per week), olive oil, spices and herbs

  • Eat moderately: lean protein like poultry, and dairy like cheese, eggs, yogurt (if tolerated)

  • Eat less: red meat

  • Beverages: water, coffee and tea and moderate amounts of wine (about 1 glass per day)

  • Don't eat: sugar, sugar-sweetened beverages, processed foods, refined grains, trans fats

  • Lifestyle: regular exercise and sharing meals


Paleo Diet

This diet is based on what our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate. It consists of whole food options and encourages more protein, fruits and vegetables and less dairy and grains. Benefits include weight loss and reduced risk of chronic lifestyle diseases.


Here's a quick outline of this diet:

  • Eat more: meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, herbs, seeds, spices, healthy fats and oils (olive, avocado, coconut)

  • Don't eat: processed foods, sugar, most dairy, grains, legumes, trans fats, processed oils (soy, sunflower, safflower, corn), artificial sweeteners

  • Beverages: water, tea and coffee (due to antioxidant content)

  • Try to choose grass-fed, pasture-raised meat and eggs

  • Some eat dairy including butter, cheese and full-fat dairy products


Autoimmune Protocol Diet (AIP)

This diet is much like an elimination-style diet and Paleo diet. It restricts foods for a short time and then has you add in foods to see if you react to them or they worsen your symptoms. This diet is done to address leaky gut and reset the immune system, which can be associated with the development of autoimmune diseases. 


Here's a quick outline of this diet:

  • Eat: heavy in meat (grass-fed) and vegetables; also coconut, olive oil, fermented foods, vinegar, herbs, small amounts of honey or maple syrup

  • Fruit: some choose not to eat at all or to eat in moderation (2 pieces/day)

  • Don't eat: nightshades (potatoes, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes), nuts, seeds, eggs, grains, legumes, dairy, processed foods, sugar, vegetable oils, NSAIDS (aspirin and ibuprofen) and alcohol


Keto Diet

This diet is a low-carb and high-fat diet. The goal is to get the body away from using carbs for fuel and turn to fat for energy. The breakdown of fats produces ketones, which your brain can use for energy. This diet may help you lose weight and improve blood sugar and insulin levels.


Here's a quick outline of this diet:

  • Eat: meat, fish, eggs, butter, cream, cheese, nuts, seeds, healthy oils (olive, coconut, avocado), avocados, low-carb veggies, herbs and spices

  • Don't eat: anything high in carbs, sugar, grains, fruit, beans, legumes, root vegetables, low-fat or diet products, condiments that contain sugar, processed oils, alcohol, sugar-free diet foods


Low Carb Diet

This diet restricts foods with carbohydrates in them such as sugary foods, pasta, bread, and grains. It's high in fat and protein and can result in weight loss and improved overall health.


Here's a quick outline of this diet:

  • Eat: meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, high-fat dairy, fats, healthy oils, some tubers and grains, water, coffee, tea, sugar-free beverages

  • Eat in moderation: tubers (potatoes, sweet potatoes), unrefined grains (rice, oats, quinoa), legumes (lentils, beans), wine, dark chocolate

  • Don't eat: sugar, refined grains, starchy vegetables, processed seed oils, trans fats, "diet" and low-fat products, processed foods


Clean Eating Diet

Clean eating is a diet and lifestyle strategy that includes eating foods in their most natural, whole state and reducing consumption of processed foods and sugar. It also includes healthy lifestyle changes like mindfulness, exercise, sleep and developing a healthy relationship with food. Some people take it a step further and take out gluten and dairy.


This diet can have benefits not only for health but also for your finances, mental health and relationships. It can save money because you're eating out less and making more of your own meals at home, increase the amount of nutrient-dense foods in your diet, help you lose weight and change your relationship with food.


Here's a quick outline of this diet:

  • Eat: whole, unprocessed foods, meat, fish, seafood, fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, soy, dairy, water, coffee, tea, unsweetened beverages

  • Don't eat: processed foods, sugar, soda

  • Lifestyle: reading labels, meal prepping, mindful eating, exercise, stress management, restful sleep, supporting local food growers



Summary

There isn't a one-size-fits-all diet that's good for everyone so I'm going to give an overview of different kinds of diets here. A really well studied, balanced and healthy diet is the Mediterranean Diet. It's been found to be especially good for heart health but you can use it as a general guideline for an overall healthy diet. The Paleo diet consists of whole food options and encourages more protein, fruits and vegetables and less dairy and grains. The Autoimmune Protocol diet is much like an elimination-style diet and Paleo diet. It restricts foods for a short time and then has you add in foods to see if you react to them or they worsen your symptoms. The Keto diet is a low-carb and high-fat diet. The goal is to get the body away from using carbs for fuel and turn to fat for energy. The breakdown of fats produces ketones, which your brain can use for energy. The low-carb diet restricts foods with carbohydrates in them such as sugary foods, pasta, bread, and grains. Clean eating is a diet and lifestyle strategy that includes eating foods in their most natural, whole state and reducing consumption of processed foods and sugar. It also includes healthy lifestyle changes.


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In health,

Dr. Jamie





This website is not intended for the purpose of providing medical advice. All information, content, and material of this website is for informational purposes only and are not intended to serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis, and/or medical treatment of a qualified physician or healthcare provider.


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