From keto to vegan, there are a plethora of diets to choose from and proponents of specific diets think their way is the right way for everyone. So, what is the healthiest diet?
Weston A. Price was a dentist in the early 1900s and he went around the world studying the diets of indigenous populations. He wanted to find out why Americans had such narrow jaws, cavities, and required root canals. He found that people who were eating their traditional diets (no processed foods) had wide jaws with plenty of room for wisdom teeth, few if any cavities, and no need for root canals. So, what diet provided these benefits?
This may surprise you, but Price found a wide variety of diets that promoted health, from mostly plant based to mostly animal based. He did not find a one-size-fits-all diet.
Here are some tips to finding the diet that works best for you:
- Listen to your body – this is key! Stop paying attention to what everyone is saying and start paying attention to how you feel. Do you have energy? Do you sleep well? Do you feel bloated? Do you have digestive issues like acid reflux? Do you have a bowel movement every day? Any skin issues, like acne or eczema? Get in touch with how you feel and what is going on with your body.
- Eat real food – Price did not find any healthy populations eating processed foods. Whatever diet you choose, whether keto, vegan or something in between, you need to eat real food, not fake, processed foods.
- Enjoyment – do you enjoy the foods you are eating or do you dread the diet you are on? Life is stressful enough without having to add to it with a diet you don’t enjoy.
- Can you stick to it for life? – this is important if you don’t want to keep going on and off diets. A diet should be nourishing, taste good, and support your lifestyle, otherwise you won’t stick to it.
What’s more important than what you eat is what you don’t eat:
- Avoid fats that did not exist before 1850, like canola, soybean, corn, and cottonseed oils, margarine, and Crisco.
- Limit sugar and flours.
- Avoid GMOs, pesticides, and herbicides. Go to ewg.org and print out the dirty dozen and the clean 15 lists to see which fruits and vegetables are best organic. If you eat anything with soy, corn, cotton, or canola, make sure it is organic.
- Eat animals that are humanely raised, eat their traditional diets, and are not loaded with antibiotics and hormones.
So, what’s the best diet? The diet that makes you feel good, you enjoy, and you can stick to for life.
Annette Presley RD, LD, is a functional nutritionist, author, speaker, and entrepreneur. She enjoys helping people live their lives well so they can stay out of hospitals and spend more time with their families and doing the things they love.