In the Middle Ages, books on dietetics were called Regimen sanitatis (Regimen of health). Now, we often mix up dietetics and diet. Dietetics is the study of food, including knowledge of the nutritive value of food items, whereas diet corresponds to the modification of usual food habits for therapeutical purposes (diabetes, obesity, etc.) or for specific population groups (pregnant women, sports persons, the aged, etc.).
Obesity is a disease of the modern world which is increasing day-by-day. But the obsession with being thin, which began after the Second World War, has developed so much that most of the people have tried to go on a diet at one stage or another of their life.
The multiplication of diet schemes, a veritable business deal, is so rampant that we will content ourselves with only mentioning the ones that are most fashionable in the current scenario.
What is of utmost interest to us in Compare-diet, is the link between these diet schemes and the various dietetics.
Several lines of studies manifest themselves, giving rise to different types of diets:
1 - Food combining diet
the cause of obesity is bad digestion
Food combining diet are diets in which the consumption of a few food groups are separated (dissociated), in order to improve digestion of the foodstuffs. In fact, fruits take less time to digest than proteins. Therefore, in food combining diet, it is recommended to eat fruits outside meals. Proteins require an acidic environment for their digestion which takes 2 to 4 hours, whereas carbohydrates (starchy foods, sugars and fruits) require an alkaline medium and less time, between 30 to 45 minutes. If starchy foods and proteins are consumed together, there won’t be enough acid for digesting the proteins in an efficient manner and there will be too much of acid for continuing the alkaline breakdown of the starches. Complete digestion of both the foods will therefore take longer that when these foods are eaten separately.
2 - Low-carb diets (low on carbohydrates)
the cause of obesity are carbohydrates
Carbohydrates constitute, along with proteins and lipids, the main macro-nutrients. They provide a quickly utilizable energy source. Simple carbohydrates or fast sugars, quickly absorbed by the organism, are found in fruits, jams, candies, pastries, sugar. Foods with complex carbohydrates or slow sugars, gradually provide energy to the body and fibers too. These are found in cereals, pulses, tubers. These foods rich in starch content are also known as starchy food. They provide the staple diet of the poor the world over: rice, bread, pasta, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beans, lentils.
Low-carb diets consider that, in order to slim down, one must control, reduce, or even completely do away with carbohydrate intake.
Opponents of food combining and low-carb diets hold the risks of dietary deficiencies against them and consider that food combinations, in fact, can favour digestion or better assimilation of a few nutrients. And carbohydrates are necessary for avoiding muscular atrophy and physical or psychological fatigue.
3 - Caloric restriction diets
the cause of obesity is excess calories
Eating too much makes one fat. Eat less and your body will grow slimmer. This is the basic principle underlying the majority of slimming diets: to reduce fat, sugar and starch intake.
4 - Geographical or historical diets
In order to live slim and long, one must take up the dietary pattern of a region or a country where people live till a ripe old age and are endowed with good health (Cretan diet, Mediterranean diet, Okinawa diet) or of a time in history, when there was consonance between the dietary pattern and biology (prehistoric diet, blood group diet).
Some dietary programs may combine several theories. For example, the Montignac diet while encouraging intake of foods with a low glycemic index (low carb) considers that present-day food processed by the industry and agriculture is not suited to our organism (prehistoric diet). It also advises against simultaneous intake of fats and carbohydrates (food combining diet).
- Atkins diet (low carbohydrate)
- The Mediterranean and Cretan diets
- Montignac diet (glycemic index)
- Shelton diet (food combining)
- Weight Watchers (caloric restriction)
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