Dietitian Minal Gada is an Expert with Spark.Live and provides customized nutrition programs. During an interview, she shared her knowledge and views about some of the common diet fads that have gripped the world and the causality between dieting and immunity.
Social media has changed the way we all view our bodies. Due to the ease of Photoshop and a variety of filters and specific angles, it is possible to portray yourself in an incorrect manner. Similarly, it is possible to curate an image of your life, daily routine, exercise habits, and diet which may be far from the truth.
A recent fad that has gripped the world is the plant-based diet. As the name suggests, this diet involves consuming foods derived from plant sources. This can be especially helpful in managing your blood glucose levels, keeping your cholesterol levels in check, and even help you lose weight!
This is possible as animal-derived foods are high on saturated fats and are often highly processed for preservation. On the other hand, plant-based foods are high in fiber and other nutrients such as potassium, magnesium, Vitamin C, etc., all of which have many proven health benefits.
To avail these benefits, one must ensure that the diet consists of fruits, vegetables, pulses, dals, lentils, nuts, seeds, soybeans, and other plant-based fats in proper proportions. A dietitian can help you figure out your required daily nutrition levels and help customize a diet plan for the same. Similarly, they can also ensure that switching to a plant-based diet does not lead to any nutritional deficiencies and that certain nutrients, such as Vitamin B12, can be accessed through dietary supplements.
Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to undertake an unhealthy plant-based diet, especially if said diet includes packaged or processed foods containing refined flours, sugar, etc.
Another commonly used health and nutrition pattern is intermittent fasting. Unlike most other fads, this is more of an eating pattern rather than a strict diet. Essentially, one divides their day or week according to ‘eating’ periods and ‘fasting’ periods, leading to a reduction fo consumed calories.
This automatic reduction leads to weight loss, and the period of fasting allows your body to convert the available calories into energy. Research has shown that this method may also support your body’s internal clock or circadian rhythm and allow you to sleep better.
One of the most common methods of intermittent fasting is allied 16/8. In this method, you would fast for 16 hours and restrict your ‘eating’ period to 8 hours a day. During the 16 ‘fasting’ hours, one can consume a variety of liquids such as water, black coffee, green tea, black tea, and zero-calorie beverages.
Dieting and Immunity
One of the most common misconceptions about crash diets is that they do not cause any harm. People believe that since these diets are only followed for a limited time, the body is able to adapt to sudden changes and restriction without any lasting side-effects.
However, crash diets are notorious for their restrictiveness and can often cause more harm than good. The strict nature of these diets can lead you to eliminate a lot of food groups and very dramatically. While cutting down on your calorie intake is a surefire way of losing weight, this has to be done in a systematic and controlled manner.
Not doing so can lead to a host of health problems in the short and long run. Sudden, drastic changes in your regular diet can lead to lethargy, lack of energy, sleep problems, symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress, and even irritability. Furthermore, the lack of nutrients can lead to deficiencies and a weak immune system, leaving you vulnerable to diseases and infections.
Due to this, dietitians do not recommend following fad diets without proper research and expert consultation. A qualified dietitian will always prepare a diet plan that is reasonable, reliable, and realistic.