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To Your Health: Be wary of diet fads

Janel C. Hayden is registered dietitian with Outpatient NutritiServices Advocate Christ Medical Center.

Janel C. Hayden is a registered dietitian with Outpatient Nutrition Services at Advocate Christ Medical Center.

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Updated: January 20, 2013 6:19AM



From detox diets to super foods, here is information about the hot nutrition topics of 2012:

Detox diets have been hotter and trendier than ever this year, promoting quick weight loss, flushing toxic chemicals from our bodies and suggesting an increase in our metabolism.

However, these are wrong, unnecessary, and have not been scientifically proven.

One of the many great things about the human body is that it automatically removes toxins that may be ingested. Our kidneys, and colon do an excellent job of efficiently and effectively ridding our bodies of toxins. You don’t need detox diets, pills, drinks or potions to help your body do its job.

There is no credible science to claim that there is a need for detoxification or frequent bowel cleansing. There are no studies available to document the benefits; instead, most claims are based on testimonials.

So instead of trying the detox diet and if you’re still looking to “cleanse” your body, choose a diet with more fruits and vegetables providing at least 1,200 to 1,500 calories per day including whole grains, low-fat dairy, lean protein, beans, healthy fats and plenty of fluids, along with regular activity.

Fad Diet: The Red Flags

There is no quick fix, magic plan or pill that will miraculously burn fat and melt away the pounds. Steer clear of any diet plans, pills or products that make those claims.

Weight loss should be gradual to ensure the weight remains off. The ideal weight loss recommendation is ½ pound to 1 pound per week. The plans that promote 3 or more pounds per week of weight loss are not realistic, too fast and not maintainable.

Quick weight loss indicates that you may have lost muscle, bone mass and water weight, which is not the goal. When this type of weight loss program is utilized you are more likely to regain all or more of the weight back.

Limiting food choices and following rigid plans are overwhelming, distasteful and not practical.

You should ask yourself, “Can I eat this way for the rest of my life?” If you don’t think you can, then the plan is not for you.

By eliminating food groups from your diet, you eliminate essential vitamins and minerals, which sometimes can’t be compensated by your multivitamin. It is best to get all of your nutrients from a variety of foods.

No Need to Exercise

It does not matter how great your diet is, physical activity is essential for optimal health and weight management.

The key to success is to find activities that you enjoy and then aim for 30 to 60 minutes of activity most days of the week.

Prebiotics and Probiotics

Bacteria has a reputation of causing disease, but in the case of prebiotics and probiotics this bacteria is good for you.

Prebiotics are nutrients which stimulate the growth of the naturally occurring microorganisms in the digestive tract. Prebiotics are the food source for probiotics. Pre and probiotics work as a team to keep your gut functioning at its best.

Prebiotics occur naturally in a variety of food such as, fruits (berries/bananas), vegetables (artichoke/leafy greens/onions) and grains (barley/oatmeal/wheat).

Probiotics are live bacteria cultures that help create the bacteria in the intestine. You are purchasing live, active bacteria when you purchase yogurt at the store that contains Lactobacilli and bifid bacteria. Other fermented foods such as Kefir (drinkable yogurt) contain the same cultures.

Research has shown that consuming probiotic cultures may help keep the immune system healthy by maintaining the “good” bacteria in your gut and also help with digestion.

Try eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains and yogurt or other fermented dairy products containing pre and probiotics.

Super Foods

Recently super foods have been the hot topic for Americans as the focus is improving the healthiness of our diet.

Super foods are defined as having high amounts of nutrients, vitamins, antioxidants and beneficial components in one serving.

However there is no one specific super food that takes the spotlight. To get the most benefits from super foods, choose a variety of super foods in various combinations. All foods should be consumed in moderation.

Instead of focusing on eating just one or two super foods, try eating a “Super Diet.”

For more information on healthy eating and nutrition contact the Advocate Christ Medical Center’s registered dietitian at (708) 684-1029.

Janel C. Hayden is a registered dietitian with Outpatient Nutrition Services at Advocate Christ Medical Center.



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