Transcript EP 317 – Dr. Taz’s Take on Top-Ranked Diets
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Dr. Taz: Welcome back, everyone. Welcome back to another episode of Super Woman Wellness, where you know I’m determined to bring you back to your superpowered self. Well, happy New Year. It’s a brand new year. You’ve probably brought out that journal, jotting down all kinds of New Year’s resolutions, trying to find the right diet for you. I don’t blame you. I love a new year and I love a clean slate, and really taking the time to evaluate what we need to do for our health and wellness. Hey, there couldn’t be a better or more opportune time to do so. But, when it comes to diet, diet confusion is real. Over and over again, everyone keeps asking, what really is the healthiest diet?
Well, recently US News and World Report came out with their rankings of top diets. In fact, they ranked the top five overall diets for health and wellness. Fascinating to see their breakdown of all of it. I’m going to share that with you over the next few minutes, and then tell you what I think. Of course you’re going to get some editorial comments from yours truly. Okay, so drum roll please, the top five diets that are ranked by US News and World Reports in 2023 include, number one, the Mediterranean diet. We’re going to talk about that one in a second. Number two is the DASH diet, which actually tied with number three, the Flexitarian diet. Number four is the MIND diet, and number five was actually new to me, the TLC diet. Okay, let’s break them all down.
The Mediterranean diet I’ve been talking about for a really long time. It sort of coincides with what we refer to as an anti-inflammatory diet. This is the diet straight from the Mediterranean where many people live long, have very low incidence of heart disease or cholesterol issues, and also have better rates of cognitive decline. What is the Mediterranean diet and how does it work? Well, it’s all about choosing a majority of plant-based foods. Filling your plate with, first of all, food diversity, so eating something different all the time, choosing more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, legumes, olive oils, and herbs and spices on a daily basis. It also includes bringing fish and seafood in at least twice a week for those omega-3 fats. In fact, one of the hallmarks of the Mediterranean diet that was so groundbreaking was understanding that this particular diet provided more omega-3 fats than many of the others.
Poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt were all okay, but in moderation, while red meat and sweets were served as occasional treats. Maybe every now and then, but definitely not a part of your daily, maybe even not a part of your weekly regimen. Red wine was acceptable and a part of the Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean diet would watch fats, but is not necessarily a low fat diet. It focused more on bringing the healthy fats in. I think that was the ringing bell for the Mediterranean diet, the understanding that we did need good fats, we need omega-3 fats, we need omega nine fats, many of these fats for us to stay healthy, to have good brain function, good blood sugar regulation, and so much more. It’s probably my favorite diet, to be a hundred percent honest, because I really do think it checks the boxes on many of the issues that we have today.
All right, number two, the DASH diet. I don’t know if you guys have heard of this one, but this is a diet specific to preventing or treating hypertension, or high blood pressure. What they found is that with this particular diet, many people were able to lower their blood pressure significantly, and at times, maybe even avoid medication. Now, this diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, low fat dairy, and blood pressure lowering nutrients like potassium, calcium, magnesium, and lots of fiber. How do you get there? Well here are some of the things. You’ll fill up on vegetables, fruits, and whole grain. You can have meat and dairy, but in very small amounts. Then foods high in saturated fats like fatty meats or full fat dairy, definitely restricted. Number two was the DASH diet.
All right, let’s move on to the Flexitarian diet. The Flexitarian diet was sort of the meat eater’s way of being vegetarian, if that makes sense. The Flexitarian diet was all about saying, hey, there are days where it’s okay to eat meat, but the majority of your diet should be plant-based, choosing primarily whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and a lot of plant-based foods. Not processed plant-based foods, but plant-based foods. Getting down to the tacticals, focusing on non-meat proteins. These include beans, peas, or eggs, including lots of fruits and veggies and whole grains, along with occasional dairy and seasoning. Reducing meat down to maybe two to three days a week. Then, occasionally using a plant-based meat alternative, but not often. We think those are overly processed. Best of all with the Flexitarian diet, you get to decide. You get to decide if you want a meat day or a non-meet day, but basically, you’re moving through those recommendations.
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All right, what’s the MIND diet? With the escalation of cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s and dementia that we’re seeing, the MIND diet sounds tempting. Honestly, at the end of the day, it’s just a blend of the DASH diet and the Mediterranean diet. Any differences are around the amount of greens and leafy vegetables that come in. The MIND diet recommends about seven one cup servings of leafy green vegetables weekly, about five half cup servings of berries every week, plus a whole grains, a daily glass of wine, snacking on nuts to get those healthy fats in, having fish at least weekly, and then really lowering sugar by bringing down sweets and pastries to just under five per week. It does allow for two single out servings, a full fat cheese per week as well.
The MIND diet is merely bringing in more of the healthy fat component of many of these diets, stressing that, while also really stressing the importance of antioxidants, which help the brain. We’re getting those from those leafy greens and from berries. Remember, leafy greens and berries are an amazing source of glutathione. Glutathione is that antioxidant that reverses aging, really helps the brain and your muscles function well. No surprise there that the MIND diet is being touted as key for dementia and one of the top five diets out today.
All right, the TLC Diet, I didn’t know this one. This is the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes diet, very fixated on lowering lipids, lowering metabolic markers like cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, really focusing on that and cardiovascular disease. This diet really is centered around lowering saturated fats and focuses most of its energy around that particular recommendation.
In doing so, it keeps meat consumption down to under five ounces a day, really advising to skin chicken and turkey, eating two to three servings a day of a low fat or nonfat dairy, four servings of fruits and three to five servings of vegetables, and then getting 11 servings per day of bread, cereal, rice, pasta, or grains, focusing on whole grains. Not sure how I feel about that. But, the TLC diet has been found to lower cholesterol by about eight to 10% after six weeks, and if it doesn’t, adding in something called stanols, plant stanols that are cholesterol light compounds and adding in soluble fiber, about 10 to 25 grams, is the next step.
All right, so that’s the download on those five diets. We have the Mediterranean, the DASH, the Flexitarian, the MIND, and the TLC diet. I still vote for the Mediterranean as the best bet. If you were listening as I was speaking, there’s not a ton of differences between all of those diets. They’re all really talking about getting lots of plant-based foods, whole plant-based foods. Your leafy greens, your berries, your nuts, your seeds, getting more of those into our diet, watching the consumption of meat, and watching the consumption of red meat and sugar in particular. I think that’s universal across all of those diets.
Then, allowing for some meat. This is interesting, right, because with the movement towards veganism, it’s very interesting to me that the top five diets don’t advocate being a vegan. They actually advocate reduction in meat, but having some days when you need meat. That is very important because we know that meat and fish provide some healthy fat, provide the protein that’s often needed to keep blood sugar stable, because the variable with metabolic health, remember, is blood sugar instability. If we’re seeing a lot of rising and falling blood sugar because we don’t have the protein or the healthy fat to suppress blood sugar, then we are going to have many cases of inflammation, cardiovascular disease, weight gain, neurodegenerative diseases, and so much more.
We see this, for example, in my community, in the Indian community where many people are vegetarian, but because those vegetables are often overcooked and because they often don’t get the protein that they need, they’re essentially consuming a very high carbohydrate load that at the end of the day is leading to inflammation and poor cardiometabolic health. Between these diets, what are the universal rules? Let’s focus on getting five to seven servings of fruits and vegetables in on a given day, adding in your healthy fats in the form of nuts and seeds and fish, limiting meat consumption to five to six ounces per day, and then making sure we’re staying hydrated.
The wine, I think it depends on the quality of the wine. Wine at the end of the day is sugar. If it’s fermented, if it’s super high quality, maybe it’s contributing and actually helping. But, the majority of wines processed, at least here in the United States, don’t meet those criteria, and we know that there’s a difference there. Wine essentially becomes another contributor to sugar, just like our breads often do because they’re not being fermented long enough. I hope that’s helpful information and teasing through the different diets, understanding what diet might be best for you. But again, sticking to the general principles that we see are universal to all five of these diets when it comes to your health and your longevity.
All right, that’s the diet breakdown. If you’ve got a diet story you’d like to share, if you just want to share your personal story of health and healing with me, feel free to email me. It’s firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll put you on air and we’ll talk about it; what worked for you, what didn’t work for you, so that you can be an inspiration and agent of change for someone else. All right, thank you for watching and listening to this episode of Superwoman Wellness. Don’t forget to rate and review it and share it with your friends, and I will see you guys next time.