Dairy has never been a staple of my diet. I eat cheese only occasionally, and I don’t really crave it like many people do. Low-fat dairy plays a central role in reaping South Beach Diet results, and I was game to try out eating it for two weeks, but it just cemented for me that yogurt is bland and horrible—and in no way filling or satisfying. But what I really couldn’t get down with were the cheese swaps.
At this point, you probably already know that the Mediterranean diet is good for your health. Research proves over and over again that people who put an emphasis on produce, fish, whole grains, and healthy fats not only weigh less, but also have a decreased risk for heart disease, depression, and dementia. So what are you waiting for? Here are the basics: Shop the market perimeter, eat seasonally, and break (whole-grain) bread with people who make you smile. Now for the nitty-gritty.
Similarly, the small “EcoAtkins” weight loss trial compared a low-fat, high-carbohydrate vegetarian diet to a low-carbohydrate vegan diet that was high in vegetable protein and fat. While weight loss was similar on the two diets, study subjects who followed the low-carbohydrate “EcoAtkins” diet saw improvements in blood lipids and blood pressure. (36)
Even if you’re seeing improvement with regular exercise, do not change your prescribed insulin regimen without consulting your doctor. Test prior to, during, and after exercise if you are on insulin and adding or making changes to your exercise program. This is true even if you think the insulin is causing you to gain weight. Changing your insulin plan could have a dangerous effect on your blood sugar levels. These changes could cause life-threatening complications.
There is some evidence that the Mediterranean diet lowers the risk of heart disease and early death. Olive oil may be the main health-promoting component of the diet. There is preliminary evidence that regular consumption of olive oil may lower all-cause mortality and the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurodegeneration, and several chronic diseases.
Based on the evidence that well planned vegan diets can be lower in unhealthy processed foods than the standard American diet, some studies have investigated vegan interventions as a possible treatment for Type 2 Diabetes. These studies have shown that a vegan diet may be effective in managing type 2 diabetes. Plant-based diets tend to be higher in fiber, which slows the rate sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream. Additionally, simple carboydrates, abundant in processed foods, which are often not vegan, have the potential to elevate HbA1c levels more than other healthier foods. In multiple clinical trials, participants who were placed on a vegan diet experienced a greater reduction in their Hemoglobin A1c levels than those who followed the diet recommended by the ADA.
Trying to devise an ideal diet by studying contemporary hunter-gatherers is difficult because of the great disparities that exist; for example, the animal-derived calorie percentage ranges from 25% for the Gwi people of southern Africa to 99% for the Alaskan Nunamiut. Descendants of populations with different diets have different genetic adaptations to those diets, such as the ability to digest sugars from starchy foods. Modern hunter-gatherers tend to exercise considerably more than modern office workers, protecting them from heart disease and diabetes, though highly processed modern foods also contribute to diabetes when those populations move into cities.
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