Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS ● Nutritional Periodontist
February 26, 2018
Fads come and go – especially dieting fads. It’s always the “next best thing” that replaces the previous “next best thing”. These diets seem to work to some extent until they don’t. Or, the fad diet you’re on makes you sick. What do you do? Move onto the “next best thing”?
Some of these diets are based on facts. Most of them are based on hype and anecdotal justifications. When a celebrity endorses a new fad diet, the masses rush in to become a part of the “next best thing”.
This style of dieting sets you up for one experiment after another. The Real Diet, which I’ll discuss near the end of this article, should complement your body’s requirements to survive and thrive. It should be a lifestyle diet and not a “next best thing” diet.
Timeline of Diets
Rene Lynch wrote an excellent article, which sets up a timeline of major diet crazes. There are many diets that have gone in and out of favor over the decades. I’ve summarized some of the earliest ones as well as some of the more bizarre ones below:
1830: One of the first “diet crazes” was created by Reverend Sylvester Graham. He emphasized a high-fiber diet based on whole grain breads. His work inspired the manufacturing of graham flour and graham crackers.
1863: William Banting was an Englishman who was obese. To improve his own health and lose weight, he developed a low-carb diet and wrote about it in “Letter on Corpulence”. He was the first to popularize a weight-loss program based on limiting carbohydrates, especially starchy and sugary foods.
1925: Of all things, there was The Cigarette Diet. Lucky Strike, a brand of cigarette, created an advertising campaign with the slogan, “Reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet”.
1928: The Inuit Diet became popular with the publication of “Studies on the Metabolism of Eskimos” by Peter Heinsbecker. His book emphasized eating meat, raw fish, and whale blubber.
1930: The Grapefruit Diet was a 12-day crash diet. It required eating a grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice at each meal.
1934: The Banana and Milk Diet was created by a medical doctor at Johns Hopkins University for his patients with diabetes. The diet consisted of eating four to six bananas and drinking three to four glasses of milk every day for two weeks. Then, for the next two weeks, patients would eat only meat, fish, eggs and vegetables, avoiding other fats or carbohydrates.
1950: The Cabbage Soup Diet is still popular today. It’s a 7-day diet that consists mainly of fat free cabbage soup, eaten two to three times a day. Other specific foods are allowed as the diet progresses over the course of 7 days.
1962: The Drinking Man’s Diet was published by Robert Cameron. He suggested dieters should count carbs and not calories. He stated that his diet, “… would let you have two martinis before lunch, and a thick steak generously spread with Sauce Béarnaise, so that you could make your sale in a relaxed atmosphere and go back to the office without worrying about having gained so much as an ounce.”
1975: The Cookie Diet was the baby of Dr. Sanford Siegal, a physician who specialized in treating overweight patients. He created a low-calorie cookie made with his secret “hunger-controlling” formula. These cookies were touted to keep appetite down and calorie-count low. There was a scheduled plan for eating Dr. Siegal’s cookies during the day along with a low-calorie meal for dinner.
1976: The Sleeping Beauty Diet suggested that being sedated is necessary to help people lose weight. It recommended taking sedatives when hungry to avoid eating too much. In essence, a person would sleep instead of eating.
1981: Judy Mazel created The Beverly Hills Diet to help her lose weight. It was based on the actions of enzymes on various foods as they were being digested. The diet detailed when specific foods could be eaten and in what combinations they should be eaten.
The Real Diet
Enter The Real Diet.
It’s not a fad at all; it’s a lifestyle. It’s my “slogan” for what humans have been eating over the course of evolution – different foods based on different locations throughout the world.
For the last 200,000 years or so, modern humans – our primal ancestors – have learned to survive and thrive on the foods that were endemic to the areas of the world where these people lived. The DNA of our ancestors slowly evolved to become the blueprint, which guides our lives today. Our gut microbiome, which is continuously evolving more rapidly than our human cells, plays one of the most important roles in our overall health. Our human cells and our gut microbiome require specific foods to provide the nutrients for us to survive and thrive, just as was true for our primal ancestors.
There is enormous variation in the foods that can provide our body with everything it needs. However, over-processed foods, ingested chemicals and medicines, and an overly-antiseptic lifestyle have caused our cells and our microbiome to malfunction.
Fad diets are not the answer. The “next best thing” should be The Real Diet. We need to return to a nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory way of eating supported by a lifestyle embedded with efficient exercise, restorative sleep, and reduction in all forms of stresses on the body.