Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The Juicy Truth about Fad Diets

21:00 February 27, 2015
By: 2Fik

Fads have been a part of the culinary world for about as long as the word itself has been a part of the English language. Health studies and food-based experiments have helped form the scientific backing to whatever is trending in the diet realm, but questionable evidence supporting these New Age techniques and movements opens the floor for debate. Juicing, once a major go-to remedy for fatigue, stress, quick weight loss and detoxification, has been shoved out of the spotlight by brothing, while cellular and alkaline diet trends seem to have replaced the popular raw food, paleo and macrobiotic regimens. Dieting requires a change of lifestyle, and though most times it is temporary, it appears that 100% commitment is necessary to gain positive results. That said, the easiest and healthiest change to force your body to endure is also the safest.

Mind you, none of these diet alternatives existed in caveman days. There were no gyms, fast-food joints or genetically modified foods then and, because of it, no diseases like hypothyroidism, diabetes or morbid obesity. Hormones play a major role in human biology, so how did Neanderthals of the post-Cretaceous Period evade such ailments? Their Paleolithic diet wasn’t the focus of their daily existence; surviving was. More than a fair amount of exercise was experienced to safely dodge or fend off beastly animals and the macabre darkness. Nuts, edible flora, berries and red meat were staples of the Stone Age, with fish and aqua-veggies, such as watercress and algae, feeding those close to water sources. Food harvest was a necessary chore, and if the mission turned out to be futile, stockpiled plants, nuts, fruits and seeds were likely dinner.

Dr. Al Sears of the Center for Health and Wellness explains: “It’s true that our ancestors had a tough life. They were hunter-gatherers. They couldn’t always predict when their next meal would be. Some days they had very little to eat. Other days they feasted. Hunger didn’t drain their energy. It increased their energy. Bouts of food shortages kicked up the energy production in their cells. It has to do with your mitochondria. More than 95% of your body’s energy depends on tiny ‘organelles’ in your cells. Each of your cells can contain hundreds or even thousands of these little power generators. Over time, our cellular power plants wear out and break down. We feel the energy drain as fatigue, but the newest research reveals you can reverse this decline in your mitochondria and have energy to spare. We can do it through mitochondrial biogenesis, a process activated by numerous different signals during times of cellular stress. For example, hunger.”

The lack of nutrient exchange from food absorption can create an environment for mitochondrial biogenesis, making water intake imperative when detoxing or cleansing. Fact: drinking a glass of water will curb hunger. Hydrating nourished cells helps to nix the cravings for food, which are essentially signals of dehydration sent to the brain that get bullied by the stomach. You should be drinking at least 2 liters of water a day to keep toxins flushed and cells nice and moist. Of the aforementioned diets, juicing is the most successful. A diet of fresh-squeezed fruit and vegetable juices packs high doses of vitamins and minerals and supports toxin flush from the liver and kidneys. “Many people turn to cleanses because they feel off. They’re bloated and sluggish, caffeine and junk food dependent, or suffering unsightly facial and body breakouts,” says Stephanie Middleberg, a New York City–based registered dietitian. “When you eliminate toxins from your system, your entire body feels better and reacts both internally and externally.” She also says, “I advise my clients to limit the juice cleanse to about 3 days, or if choosing a longer program, check in with their physician periodically.”

I did the juice cleanse from Raw Republic. Speaking with an in-shop consultant provides education on the variety of cleanses available, which can be customized to suit your needs and goals. I received juices to promote toxin flush and vitamin absorption that surprisingly satiated my cravings and fulfilled my hunger pangs at mealtime. I tried to resist the coconut juice that is provided to battle the urge for snack attacks, but when I could no longer hold back I ended up chugging the whole damn thing, leaving me no relief for my nibbling urges just before bedtime. Day 2 was tragic, perhaps because of the lack of caffeine alone, but on my third and final day I felt amazing.

Afterwards, reinstating solid foods in my diet was tough because I looked at foods differently. I thought about their nutritional value more than I had before. And as far as the food allergies I’m aware of, my resolution to keep those triggers out of my guts was stronger than ever. I found myself opting for the juice bar at Whole Foods over their well-stocked imported beer and wine coolers, and when friends invited me to lunch I encouraged places like Satsuma that have crafty blends with even craftier names. Soon enough I was making the trek to Beaucoup Juice for a shot of fresh ginger instead of that midday coffee I used to drink like an addict. My yearning for just a bit of sweet led my legs to HoneyDeux on Magazine, where bubble tea was the answer. Antioxidant-packed Green Tea Boba was my usual, and its smoothie-thick freshness did the trick every time. The sugar cravings didn’t cease completely, but when my conscience got the best of me FARE: Food for Health was a no-brainer, with their juice selections and gluten-free baked goods, which also support the alkaline diet.

Dr. Michael Dansinger explains: “The alkaline diet food suggestions just so happen to be wholesome, organic and very good for you. Lots of fruits, vegetables and water. Avoiding gluten, canned items, dairy, eggs and processed foods is imperative based on their acidic value; however, abstaining from sugar, alcohol and processed foods is healthy weight-loss advice to couple with the program. The chemistry of it all: a pH level measures how acidic or alkaline something is. A pH of 0 is totally acidic, while a pH of 14 is completely alkaline. A pH of 7 is neutral. Those levels vary throughout your body. Your blood is slightly alkaline, with a pH between 7.35 and 7.45. Your stomach is very acidic, with a pH of 3.5 or below, so it can break down food. And your urine changes, depending on what you eat—that’s how your body keeps the level in your blood steady. The alkaline diet claims to help your body maintain its blood pH level. Nothing you eat is going to substantially change the pH of your blood, as your body’s state of homeostasis attempts to keep that level constant at all times, but eating the right nutritious foods is never a bad idea.”

So there you have it. Of-the-earth, organic substances made up the early human diet, not refined sugars or their processed syrupy counterparts, reduced-calorie low-fat snack packs, light yogurts or soy-based vegetarian products. Modern eating begets modern consequences, lending support to the old adage that learning from our past encourages a better tomorrow.

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