Diet is a component of a healthy lifestyle that has equal, if not more importance than physical activity. The diet and food industries are absurdly complex and often market hyperbolic, at times contradictory claims – it’s often that you’ll hear doing two things that are polar opposites will give you the same health benefit.
The great self-help website Lifehacker recently published a fantastic piece debunking some popular diets, and providing some scientific evidence to either completely refute or at least add nuance to many of the claims that have been made. The diets investigated include
- Alkaline Diets: Books like “The Alkaline Cure” claim that you can regulate your body’s ph by eating foods that are less acidic, and in turn stave off ills like cancer and bone loss. Turns out though that your kidneys regulate your ph – diet has little to do with it. While there may be some benefits to the diet, these are mostly derived from the fact that “alkaline” foods happen to just be healthy in general.
- Raw Foods: Many proponents of raw food diets claim that cooked foods build up toxins in your body that can only be “cleansed” by eating raw. The problem here is two-fold – one, your body has organs that do a fine job of detoxing on their own, the liver and kidneys, and two, the nutritional content of some vegetables is actually more easily digested by your body when they’re cooked (tomatoes, for instance)
- Juice Cleanses: As with raw foods, proponents of juice cleanses often tout that they’ll “cleanse” your body of toxins. Once again: your body already does that. Also, while juice cleanses aren’t out and out bad for you, juices do contain a great deal of sugar, and sometimes the servings of certain fruits and vegetables in juices are so large that consumed in large enough quantities over time, they can have adverse health effects.
Eating healthy can certainly be a more complex and daunting task than it seems, so it’s understandable how fad diets can take hold – they’re simple, clearly delineated regiments that lay out what appear to be substantial (though poorly supported) benefits. However, it’s important to take a skeptical eye to all of these and ensure that what you’re putting into your body will truly benefit you in the way you want it to.