Along the lines of biohacking, aka manipulating aspects of your life to yield desired results in terms of your productivity, appearance and more, many trendy diets have popped up promising unending benefits. From the keto diet, to the paleo diet, to the alkaline diet and more, there are a myriad of ways to fuel your body and “optimize” your health. Read on to discover the histories of these diets, their purported benefits, what current research says about them, and how chocho can fit into each.
The keto diet is a diet extremely high in fat and low in carbs (fewer than 20-50 grams of carbs per day). This combo forces the body into a state of ketosis, when molecules called ketones (three water soluble compounds- acetone, β-hydroxybutyrate and acetoacetate) build up in the bloodstream. The consumption of little to no carbohydrates causes blood sugar levels to drop, and because carbs are our bodies’ go-to source for fuel, without them our body begins to breakdown fat to use as energy in the form of the ketones which are produced by the liver from stored fat. It takes time to go into ketosis and eating too much protein can interfere with the state of ketosis, so adhering strictly to the diet is important (cite). The diet was originally created to help manage epilepsy, but has gained popularity in recent years for a variety of reasons.
One reason that the keto diet has grown in popularity is because of its ability to aid in rapid weight loss. However, it is important to note that this rapid weight loss is not because of a loss of fat (which is what most people desire) but is actually just a loss in water weight. When you limit your carbohydrate intake, glycogen stores in your muscles go down. Glycogen is responsible for water retention, so when levels of glycogen fall so do our bodily water levels. This means, when you start eating carbs again, you will just regain the water weight as your glycogen stores replenish themselves. And, you still have to abide by the basic principles of weight loss, the ratio of energy in vs energy out, as the keto diet does not magically speed up your metabolism.
Other benefits of the keto diet include possibly helping people who have Type 2 diabetes, as a low carb diet seems to improve blood sugar levels. A review by the National Lipid Association found that Type 2 diabetics who adhered to a low carb diet were able to use less medication than their high carb counterparts. Adherents of the keto diet also report improved brain function and possibly improved acne symptoms. However, there seem to be many possible negative health impacts, such as possible fatigue, gastrointestinal issues, sleep problems, and health issues associated with consuming too much fat and too few micronutrients.
The paleo diet, aka the stone age/caveman/ancient diet is a diet in which you eat foods that our ancient human ancestors ate during the Paleolithic age. These ancient humans were hunter gatherers and are believed to have consumed lean proteins, eggs, fruits, vegetables, nuts and roots. The diet was created in the 1970s by a gastroenterologist who thought that we could learn how to eat healthy in modernity with knowledge from the ancient past. Part of this thought process is that this diet is what humans were built to eat, it is our natural diet and is what we are biologically built to consume. Today, one might describe the paleo diet to be eating only what you can find at your local farmers market, therefore fresh local produce and meats. This means that the diet avoids and eliminates any processed foods, foods that contain refined sugars, refined grains, refined vegetable oils, trans fatty acids, slat, and added chemicals. According to thepaleodiet.com, the Paleo Diet therefore has a low glycemic load which may help to promote the normalization/stabilization of blood glucose and insulin levels and may help to prevent metabolic syndrome. Additionally, the foods allowed in the paleo diet often contain few anti nutrients such as lectins which may be linked to inflammation and autoimmune diseases.
Research seems to back some of these claims up. The University of Lund found that those who adhered to a paleo diet improved their glucose tolerance and that the paleo diet helped to improve glycemic control and several cardiovascular risk factors as compared to diabetes diet. However, there may also be some risks. For starters, the paleo diet requires eating lots of meat which may lead to an overconsumption of saturated fat and cholesterol. This is in part because although paleo dieters are trying to eat like Paleolithic humans, the meat we have today is not the same; meat now has a different fatty acid composition due to the way we feed and raise livestock. Other concerns include a lack of fiber, vitamins, and minerals (such as iron, zinc, calcium folate, etc.) that come from a diet that includes grains and other foods. Another factor to consider is accessibility, the paleo diet often requires expensive foods and food substitutes, which may make it difficult for many to try.
THE ALKALINE DIET//
The alkaline diet is based on the idea that you can manipulate your body's pH level, and that there is an optimum pH for your body to function at. The diet is based on the theory that some foods, like meat, wheat, refined sugar, and processed foods cause your body to produce acid which is bad for you. Therefore, eating foods that can help to make your body more alkaline (aka basic) can protect against the acidification of your body. The idea is that by trying to make your body more alkaline, you can lose weight, avoid problems like arthritis and cancer, and can help to protect against other health conditions.
However, science and chemistry indicate that this diet might be flawed as your body's pH varies depending on body parts. For example, your blood is slightly alkaline, with a pH between 7.35 and 7.45. Your stomach on the other hand is very acidic, with a pH of 3.5 or below. The pH in your urine is ever changing, which is how your body is able to keep the pH of your blood stable (by excreting excess acid to keep the blood alkaline). The alkaline diet claims that eating certain foods can help your body maintain its pH levels, but in reality your body regulates its pH regardless of foods you eat as your urine serves to balance it out.
Although there may be benefits to the alkaline diet, they do not come from your bodies pH levels. Rather, they come from the health of the foods that are allowed. On the diet, you're meant to consume lots of fruits and vegetables, water, soybeans/tofu, some nuts, seeds, and legumes. All of these foods are possibly related to positive health outcomes, and a diet rich in these foods may help to prevent conditions like kidney stones and osteoporosis and may help to improve heart health and brain function. So, although the alkaline diet may not help your blood pH, consuming a whole food plant based diet is linked to health benefits.
Although there are notable differences between these two diets, we grouped them together because they share one thing in common-- they limit the consumption of animals and animal products to varying degrees. Vegetarian diets do not consume meat, but do consume animal products such as milk and eggs. Vegan diets on the other hand do not even consume animal products, swearing off milk, eggs, cheese, and any other animal related product. Some do not consider veganism a diet, but rather a lifestyle as it can extend into areas of life beyond food. For example, vegans may opt to use products (like beauty products or hygiene products) that have not been tested on animals. Vegans may also choose to not wear or purchase items made of animal skins.
There are many health benefits associated with following a vegan/vegetarian diet. For example, these diets can be rich in micronutrients, can aid in weight loss, can possibly help to lower blood sugar and improve kidney function, may help to reduce risk of heart disease, and can help to prevent certain cancers. However, it is important to note that not all vegan/vegetarian diets are the same. Since these diets do not have strict guidelines beyond limiting animal products, and because the meat and dairy alternatives market is booming, these diets may not be as healthy as one thinks they are. However, it is important to remember that mental health and physical health are equally important, so the fact that these diets allow for indulging in delicious alternatives may make them more sustainable for many in the long term.
PLANT BASED/ RAW VEGAN
Where vegan/vegetarian diets may fail to always prioritize healthy food, the plant based diet and raw vegan diets fill in the gaps. Rather than focusing on not consuming animal products, these diets focus on eating mostly plants and plant based foods. Diets such as these may help people to maximize the purported health benefits from eating vegan. However, there are important differences between the two ways of eating. Plant based eaters consume mostly plants but may occasionally consume meats or animal products. Plant based eaters may choose to eat seasonally, consuming warmer foods in colder months and eating more raw in warmer months. Raw vegans on the other hand are vegans who only eat raw foods, foods not heated above 104-118 ° Fahrenheit. The raw vegan diet may have some beneficial effects, such as maximizing nutrient bioavailability of foods that are most nutritious when consumed in a raw state. However, it may also be nutritionally unbalanced resulting in reproductive issues and muscle building issues. Like many other diets though, this depends on what is consumed within the parameters.
LOW FAT/ OIL FREE
The low fat and oil free diets are based around the idea that oil is a nutritionally void food. The thought is that oil provides no micronutrients, and since your stomach gets full off of protein and carbs, oil just adds calories without any benefits. However, research shows that this is not entirely true. Although some may feel their best when reducing oil consumption, it should be said that it still serves a purpose. Oil helps one to feel satiated by helping the body produce leptin. Oil also helps to make nutrients in vegetables bioavailable and provides important nutrients like certain fatty acids. It is important to note that not all oils are created equal, and that some highly refined oils such as corn oil or sunflower oil may be linked to inflammation as they cause an imbalance in the omega 3 to omega 6 ratio. But, high quality oil like olive oil is prevalent in the mediterranean diet which is often hailed as the diet of longevity and consuming certain oils in moderation is recommended by health experts.
The Ayurvedic diet is part of Ayurveda, a traditional system of medicine that has been around for over three thousand years. It originates from the South Asian region, and defines health as a state of equilibrium within oneself (mind and body) and posits that the self is inextricably linked to the environment. There are believed to be three doshas, think three types of energy: kapha (earth and water), pitta (fire and water) and vata (air and ether). The ways in which these doshas work together in each of us “is a manifestation of our basic nature and determines our physical constitution” (cite). Each dosha has certain characteristics that display itself in the individual, for example the pitta dosha is associated with intelligence, hard work, and a decisive nature. People who have the pitta dosha tend to have a medium physical build, short tempers, and may suffer from conditions like indigestion, heart disease, or high blood pressure. To maximize health, one must balance the doshas within themselves, and learn how each dosha is manifesting itself inside and outside you. Certain foods can increase the presence of a certain dosha, leading to possible dosha imbalances within the body that are believed to cause health issues. Basically, the Ayurvedic diet is complex and unique to the individual, by finding out your doshas and your imbalances, you can create a diet that will help you balance the doshas and find your optimal health. But, the diet does have some basic principles: focusing on eating whole foods, eating seasonally, and eating mindfully as you must focus on how food makes you feel.
The macrobiotic diet originates from a Japanese philosophy which believed that by eating a simple healthy diet one could live in harmony with nature. The diet goes beyond just what you eat, and also provides guidance on how to cook your food. The diet, like the Ayurvedic diet, may be highly individualized and you may want to consult with a macrobiotic practitioner to help you find what will work best for you. Generally the diet tries to minimize and avoid foods that contain possible toxins, and many macrobiotic dieters follow a completely vegan diet without any dairy or meat products. Some may eat small amounts of organic fish.
The diet is primarily made up of organic whole grains such as brown rice, oats, and buckwheat, locally grown organic fruits and vegetables, and soups made with vegetables, seaweed, legumes, and fermented soy (miso). As you can see, organic options are always favored. Sometimes, you may include small amounts of nuts, seeds, and pickled vegetables. The diet follows principles of intuitive/mindful eating, eating when hungry and chewing your food well. There are certain rules about cooking and storing your food, such as you shouldn't use a microwave.
SUMMARY // CHOCHO’S INNATE INCLUSIVITY
If you are on a health journey and are considering trying out a variety of eating styles to find what works best for you, make sure you do your research first. As discussed above, all of these diets may have their pros and cons but many are lacking in extensive research to back up all of their claims. And, for many of these diets you can follow them in ways that may promote health and in ways that may result in negative health impacts. Also, trying different diets such as these can be an expensive endeavor as you constantly have to buy foods to fit into the new guidelines.
This is why we are so stoked that chocho can fit into most diets- as you discover what works best for your body, you can always rely on chocho. Chocho is high in healthy fat and has 0 net carbs so it is keto friendly. And, although legumes are often banned in the paleo diet due to concerns about lectins our chocho is lectin free meaning you can incorporate it into your paleo diet. Our chocho is gluten free, vegan/vegetarian, plant based and can fit into an alkaline diet and the Ayurvedic diet which are rich in plant based whole foods.
Our chocho is made to maximize bioavailability- it is heated and minimally processed to make it a digestible whole food. Although it is not a raw food, it is important to note that raw chocho can not be eaten because of the anti-nutrients present in its raw state, so our minimal processing is essential. Whatever eating style you find works best for you, chocho can provide you with extra nutrition and protein to keep you feeling strong, energized, and ready to conquer your day!