Wednesday, April 7, 2010

In the Jungle of Diets, Part 2

It’s not just about weight!

Although most diets aim at weight reduction or loss, many are also used as therapies. The body may not only be overweight from excess fat, but a profusion of waste materials can accumulate in tissues and organs without causing an increase in weight. To that extent dieting can make sense for rheumatism sufferers or sufferers from cardiovascular disorders and other diseases.

In a rheumatism sufferer for example, such a diet will be low in proteins to avoid an influx of uric acid and urea, which cause inflammation and blockage of the joints. In people with cardiovascular disease the choice is a diet low in fats to reduce cholesterol intake and prevent blood thickening and deposits in the arteries (arteriosclerosis). In cases of eczema acids are to be restricted, in oedema salts, and sweets in acne.
Purpose of dietetic treatment

In contrast to diets, nutritional therapies aim to rectify nutritional deficiencies, that is they aim to replenish vitamins, trace elements, amino acids, and so on, the lack or deficiency of which caused the disease in the first place. Any organism depends on a steady supply of nutrients for its proper function and growth. While temporary shortages are mostly without significant effects, chronic deficiencies can cause considerable damage.

Nutritional therapies are arranged to remedy missing nutrients in the body. Vitamin C deficiency for example is treated with citrus fruits. Mineral deficiency can be helped by vegetables and dairy products, which are foods high in minerals.

But sometimes it is not enough to just use certain foods, one must increase their consumption substantially in order to supply the adequate amount of a certain nutrient. A protein diet, which consists mainly of meat, fish, eggs and dairy products, can be used to remedy protein deficiencies. For osteoporosis a diet rich in dairy products (cheese, cottage cheese, yoghurt and so on) can be recommended, which assists calcium and vitamin D absorption. In certain cases it would be a good idea to add nutritional supplements to the diet and increase the vitamin and mineral intake. So for instance wheat germ is useful to increase supply of vitamin E, brewer’s yeast for the B vitamins, Spirulina for amino acids and linseed or rapeseed oil for vitamin F.

Which diet do I require?

Every diet should have a certain therapeutic goal. It does not any make sense to try a diet simply because it is praised in the media or it was recommended in a book, or because it is in fashion at the time or has helped another person.

The right diet or nutritional therapy should exactly correspond to the needs of the individual. Professional dietary advice is important, because there are manifold interactions in the body, so that what is intended to help may in fact cause harm in the end.

If a diet promises a quick result, without the person having to contribute anything, great caution is called for.

In view of the natural law of equilibrium every “one-sided” diet presents an unbalanced eating habit — when the aim is to eradicate an existing imbalance. Diets and nutritional therapies therefore are not part of the normal lifestyle and should not be maintained for too long. Nor is it beneficial to spend one’s life jumping from one diet to another with the aim of doing as many “healthy” things as possible.

Diets and nutritional therapies are temporary aids. During times when we are not on a special diet, we should strive for healthy eating habits which suit our needs. These requirements will naturally depend on our activities and the change of the seasons. When we always adjust ourselves to these conditions we thereby obey the law of balance – and, literally speaking, nourish ourselves in a balanced way.

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