Quick, what is Kombucha? The Keto Diet? Have you tried digital detoxing yet? How about walking meditation and intermittent fasting?
Health trends rise and fall quickly in our world of instant gratification, where the next big thing is only a click away. Commentators regularly pack social media channels to share the latest fad, and you may have already heard some health-related buzzwords among friends or seen magazine covers blaring what you should try and when.
But what is the truth behind the terms? Which of these trends actually have health benefits as conversations continue to focus on wellness and preventative health in 2019?
Here are five things along with some perspective from our experts to help you decide if you want to dive in. As always, ask your doctor before starting any kind of new health regimen.
Ketogenic (Keto) Diet
The Ketogenic diet, or Keto (key-toe), remains the movie star of diets in 2019. A food plan that ditches carbohydrates in favor of high-fat content, the diet aims to put you in a state of ketosis, which burns the body’s ketones (derived from fat cells) as energy. Because the Keto diet has minimal carbohydrates, it forces your body to burn fat instead of carbohydrates for energy.
Science shows the Keto diet may help you lose weight, improve brain function and energy levels, reduce inflammation and stomach trouble, and improve sleep. But keep in mind: “going Keto” isn’t something to go the whole hog, even if bacon is a staple of the diet.
Julie Hill, RD, LDN, a registered dietitian with Lee Health, stresses the Keto diet isn’t a fad diet. “Keto is a lifestyle change, a long-term adaptation to your daily life,” Julie says. “Keto should be considered a therapy, like a medication, that needs professional monitoring to ensure proper health and safety.”
What can you expect to eat on the Keto diet? Prepare for lots of lean fat: meat and poultry, eggs, cheese, seafood, yogurt, as well as non-starchy vegetables such as cucumbers, asparagus, and avocados. Say farewell to grains, bread, processed food, milk, pasta, potatoes, soda, and high-carb fruit. Vegetable oils, factory-farmed meat and fish, legumes and soy, and sugar are also off limits.
The basics of Keto – low carbs and sugar – may not sound that different from other diets. Remember that Ketogenic diets are specific, drastic, and take a large group of foods off your table. This can lead to nutritional deficiencies especially because the diet is difficult to follow long-term.
A recent news story says we are living in the age of the “Shroom Boom” – an obsession with the healing properties of mushrooms, which are becoming more and more abundant in drinks and beauty products. In fact, Grand View Research reports that “the mushroom market could hit $50 billion in the coming years.” This concentration and study on mushrooms and their benefits is called mycology.
Why all the fungi fuss?
Well, besides the fact that mushrooms just look cool, they are also known as a superfood because of their nutritional value. They contain no fat or cholesterol, low sodium and calories, and are packed with antioxidants and fiber that have anti-angiotensin properties – a fancy way to say that they decrease blood flow to developing tumors, according to Carrie Bloemers, a registered dietitian with Lee Health. Mushrooms may also help in the fight against heart disease, improve cholesterol, and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
So adding more mushrooms to your diet can definitely be a plus!
You’ve got to trust your gut. Dr. Sal Lacagnina, vice president of health and wellness at Lee Health, says that most of the immune system resides in the GI tract, and that chemicals and hormones that have a direct and indirect influence on the brain are produced there – just another reason to pay attention to your diet.
So don’t ignore what you’re feeling. Do you have recurring gas, bloating, diarrhea, or constipation? You might benefit from a diet low in FODMAPs – an acronym for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. These are long names for carbs and sugars that live inside a lot of our favorite fruits, vegetables, milk, and wheat products.
Many people have found that a diet low in FODMAPs will help their guts feel better. In fact, the IBS Network promotes reducing a high FODMAP diet for four to eight weeks to see if sufferers of irritable bowel syndrome find relief. They recommend a registered dietitian work with directly with an IBS patient to make sure everything is on the right track.
What are you doing this very moment? What are your feeling and thinking? Are you obsessing over the past or worried about tonight’s plans? Take a deep breath. Remember that where you are, right now, is the only true moment you have. Be aware and pay attention, without judgment.
This practice is called being mindful, and it’s much easier said than done.
But Christin Collins, system director of health and wellness at Lee Health, says an increasing amount of community members are asking her and her staff about mindfulness and how it relates to living a more purpose-driven life.
“On our health journey, the mind / body connection is key -- and one that is often overlooked,” Collins says. “We make ourselves sick with worry and sometimes obsess about things we simply cannot control. Learning to let go, and simply be, is critical to our health and well-being. We are not our thoughts and emotions. We are observing our thoughts and emotions, and often reacting to them.
“By practicing mindfulness, we observe and exhale these thoughts and emotions, and simply be present. With practice, this freeing experience leads us to health and happiness.”
Some people find regular meditation difficult to get into since thoughts may wander and actually cause the opposite of relaxation. So instead of sitting and trying to find your inner peace, many people are getting up and meditating while walking.
“Take your walk from mere transportation to complete relaxation,” says Gloria Reilly, certified yoga teacher and health services coordinator at Lee Health. “Try linking your movement with your breath by counting to four with your steps as you inhale, and then counting to four with each step as you exhale. For added focus, to shift your mind away from those wandering thoughts, try pressing the tip of your thumb into each fingertip rhythmically with each step you take. This motion not only provides a distraction to the mind, but it also stimulates areas in your brain that are linked to the nerves in your fingers.”
Gloria says for a simpler approach, practitioners of walking meditation should notice their feet and how they feel when they hit the pavement. Absorb the vibration of the muscles in your legs and observe the way your arms are swinging. Don’t be distracted by music or thoughts from your stressful day—simply stay mindful of the thing you are doing at that very moment: Breathing, walking, and observing as you scan your body for feelings and sensations.
Talk to our Healthy Life Center dietitians, yoga experts, and more at 239-495-4475.