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6 Things the World’s Most Successful Diets Have in Common
By Kris Gunnars
Many diets have stood the test of time. They became popular a long time ago, but people are still doing them and still getting results. This includes, but is not limited to:
Photo credit: Shutterstock
People tend to focus on (and argue about) what sets these diets apart.
So far, this “debate" has not been productive. Not by a long shot.
Perhaps, instead of arguing, we should be focusing on all the things these diets have in common.
Chances are that these are universal laws that work across the board, and can deliver results no matter what the rest of your diet is composed of.
The truth is, all the diets (or “ways of eating") mentioned above, and all diets shown to be compatible with long-term health, do have a few important commonalities.
Here are 6 things that all successful “diets" have in common.
1. They Are Low in Added Sugar
Sugar is also “empty" calories, because it supplies a large amount of energy with literally no essential nutrients.
Bottom Line: There is almost universal agreement that a lot of added sugar is unhealthy, and most successful diets recommend limiting it.
2. They Eliminate Refined Carbohydrates
Another ingredient that people agree is unhealthy, is refined carbs.
Refined carbohydrates are usually grains that have had all the beneficial stuff removed.
The most common one is refined wheat flour, which is consumed in massive amounts in Western countries.
Refined grains are made by pulverizing whole grains and removing the bran and endosperm, which are the fibrous and nutritious parts.
For this reason, refined grains contain little more than starch, chains of glucose molecules.
Refined starch provides lots of energy, with almost no essential nutrients (empty calories).
Without the fiber found in the whole grain, starch can cause rapid spikes in blood sugar levels, which leads to cravings and overeating a few hours later when blood sugar comes crashing down (12, 13).
Although some diets (like paleo and low-carb) take things a step further and eliminate grains altogether, all successful diets at least emphasize limiting refined grains and replacing them with their whole, healthier counterparts.
Bottom Line: All successful diets eliminate refined grains like wheat flour, which is very unhealthy. However, some diets take things a step further and eliminate grains altogether.
3. They Eliminate Industrial Vegetable Oils
Industrial vegetable oils entered the human diet only recently.
Until about a 100 years ago, we simply didn't have the technology to process them.
This includes soybean oil, canola oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil and a few others.
Whether they actually cause or protect from heart disease is controversial. Some observational studies show them to be protective, but many controlled trials suggest that they may be harmful (27, 28, 29, 30).
Also, the way these oils are manufactured is highly disgusting, and pretty much all of the beneficial nutrients are removed from the oils. Therefore, just like added sugars and refined grains, vegetable oils classify as “empty" calories.
Out of all the diets and dietary patterns shown to be compatible with long-term health, none of them included industrial vegetable oils.
Bottom Line: Industrial vegetable oils are incredibly harmful and contribute to numerous problems at the cellular level. No diet shown to be compatible with long-term health includes vegetable oils.
4. They Eliminate Artificial Trans Fats
Pretty much everyone agrees that artificial trans fats are unhealthy.
Trans fats are usually made by “hydrogenating" vegetable oils, which makes them solid at room temperature and increases shelf life (35).
Trans fats are toxic, unnatural and there is absolutely nothing beneficial about them.
Bottom Line: Trans fats are highly toxic, made by hydrogenating vegetable oils. Many studies show a link to inflammation and diseases like heart disease.
5. They Are High in Vegetables and Fiber
The different diets eliminate all sorts of different foods.
Plant-based diets minimize (or eliminate) animal foods, while low-carb and paleo diets eliminate grains, for example.
However, one of the things that all diets include is vegetables.
Most diets also include fruit. Even low-carb diets allow for berries and small amounts of fruit (a low-carb diet is NOT a no-carb).
Bottom Line: All successful diets emphasize eating plenty of vegetables, and in most cases fruit as well. These foods are high in antioxidants and healthy prebiotic fibers.
6. They Focus on Foods Instead of Calories
One interesting thing that all of these diets have in common, is that none of them emphasize calorie restriction.
Instead, they put the emphasis on eating whole, single ingredient, healthy foods.
Although calories are obviously important for weight management, simply restricting calories without regard to the foods you eat is rarely effective in the long-term.
Most successful diets emphasize a lifestyle change that includes whole foods, and let weight loss follow as a natural side effect.
This article was reposted from our media associate Authority Nutrition.
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By Julia Conley
Climate campaigners on Friday expressed hope that policymakers who are stalling on taking decisive climate action would reconsider their stance in light of new warnings from an unlikely source: two economists at J.P. Morgan Chase.
Tensions are continuing to rise in Canada over a controversial pipeline project as protesters enter their 12th day blockading railways, demonstrating on streets and highways, and paralyzing the nation's rail system
Colorado River Has Lost 1.5 Billion Tons of Water to the Climate Crisis, 'Severe Water Shortages' May Follow
California is headed toward drought conditions as February, typically the state's wettest month, passes without a drop of rain. The lack of rainfall could lead to early fire conditions. With no rain predicted for the next week, it looks as if this month will be only the second time in 170 years that San Francisco has not had a drop of rain in February, according to The Weather Channel.
The last time San Francisco did not record a drop of rain in February was in 1864 as the Civil War raged.
"This hasn't happened in 150 years or more," said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability to The Guardian. "There have even been a couple [of] wildfires – which is definitely not something you typically hear about in the middle of winter."
While the Pacific Northwest has flooded from heavy rains, the southern part of the West Coast has seen one storm after another pass by. Last week, the U.S. Drought Monitor said more Californians are in drought conditions than at any time during 2019, as The Weather Channel reported.
The dry winter has included areas that have seen devastating fires recently, including Sonoma, Napa, Lake and Mendocino counties. If the dry conditions continue, those areas will once again have dangerously high fire conditions, according to The Mercury News.
"Given what we've seen so far this year and the forecast for the next few weeks, I do think it's pretty likely we'll end up in some degree of drought by this summer," said Swain, as The Mercury News reported.
Another alarming sign of an impending drought is the decreased snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. The National Weather Service posted to Twitter a side-by-side comparison of snowpack from February 2019 and from this year, illustrating the puny snowpack this year. The snow accumulated in the Sierra Nevadas provides water to roughly 30 percent of the state, according to NBC Los Angeles.
Right now, the snowpack is at 53 percent of its normal volume after two warm and dry months to start the year. It is a remarkable decline, considering that the snowpack started 2020 at 90 percent of its historical average, as The Guardian reported.
"Those numbers are going to continue to go down," said Swain. "I would guess that the 1 March number is going to be less than 50 percent."
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center forecast that the drier-than-average conditions may last through April.
NOAA said Northern California will continue deeper into drought through the end of April, citing that the "persistent high pressure over the North Pacific Ocean is expected to continue, diverting storm systems to the north and south and away from California and parts of the Southwest," as The Weather Channel reported.
As the climate crisis escalates and the world continues to heat up, California should expect to see water drawn out of its ecosystem, making the state warmer and drier. Increased heat will lead to further loss of snow, both as less falls and as more of it melts quickly, according to The Guardian.
"We aren't going to necessarily see less rain, it's just that that rain goes less far. That's a future where the flood risk extends, with bigger wetter storms in a warming world," said Swain, as The Guardian reported.
The Guardian noted that while California's reservoirs are currently near capacity, the more immediate impact of the warm, dry winter will be how it raises the fire danger as trees and grasslands dry out.
"The plants and the forests don't benefit from the water storage reservoirs," said Swain, as The Mercury News reported. "If conditions remain very dry heading into summer, the landscape and vegetation is definitely going to feel it this year. From a wildfire perspective, the dry years do tend to be the bad fire years, especially in Northern California."
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