Examining New Dietary Trends

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Examining New Dietary Trends

New Dietary Trends

What Diet Do I Choose For 2015?

By: Dr. Melissa Lee ND

New Year’s Day is often an exciting moment. It is an opportunity for a new start. A new start for career goals, a new perspective on life, or a new start to a self-care routine. One of the most common health trends we see is the emergence of diet fads. I often get two questions:

  1. “What is the best cleanse or detoxification program/product I can use?”
  2. “What is the best diet that I can follow to optimize my health and lose weight?”

In relation to the first question, the best cleanse can be addressed in a past article I wrote entitled “The Art of Detoxification.”

The second question is a little more complex. To just follow one “protocol” may not be the best idea. We are complex and unique human beings from our genetics, physiology, and biochemistry to our mental, emotional and physical state. With all these variations in ourselves, we have to ask “is there only one best diet for me?”

Historically, there are have been a lot of diet fads as shown below:

  • 1960: 1st study on Mediterrean Diet
  • 1963: Weight Watchers is born
  • 1972 Atkins publishes on the concept of a low carb diet
  • 1983: Jenny Craig anyone?
  • 1995: Its bikini season with the South Beach Diet
  • 1997; Blood Type Diet
  • 2000: Princess Kate is all Dukan Diet
  • 2010: Paleo starts to gain popularity amongst the CrossFit community
  • 2012 Gluten Free Diet
  • End of 2014:
  • Paleo
  • Paleo/Vegan
  • Veganism
  • Gluten Free has exploded
  • Dairy Free
  • Ketogenic Diet
  • More studies established on mediterrean diet
  • Given this timeline we can conclude two things:
  1. There have been a lot of diet trends in the past.
  2. We ended 2014 with a lot of diet trends: Gluten Free, Paleo, Dairy Free, Vegan, Mediterranean or some combination of the above.

Some of these diet fads or combination of them will continue into 2015. So… what diet do we choose?

It can be difficult to pick the right diet for you, especially since each routine can become restrictive or regimented. Scientific research has also validated the positive benefits of the 2014 diets in relation to optimizing health, minimizing the risk of chronic disease, treating chronic disease, or promoting weight loss, if done properly.

Let’s take a look at the latest diet trends and examine what it entails, its benefits, and possible problems that can arise.


Gluten Free/Dairy Free

A gluten-free diet is a diet that excludes the protein gluten.


  • Amaranth
  • Brown rice
  • Buckwheat
  • Millet
  • Quinoa
  • Teff
  • Wild rice
  • Oats (if certified gluten free)


Gluten containing grains:

  • Wheat
  • Spelt
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Kamut
  • Oats (due to cross contamination)
  • All dairy products

Initially prescribed for people who have gluten and dairy intolerances: ex. Celiac disease or lactose intolerance.

Benefit if done right:

Shown to decrease inflammatory load in patients who are effected by all types of chronic disease, specifically Celiac Disease.


Gluten free food has come a long way, and what has evolved is the creation of gluten free processed/ refined foods. The problem is Gluten Free Food is still stereotyped as being “healthy.” So the general population has replaced conventional processed foods with gluten free processed foods with the perception they are improving their health.

The reality is a cupcake is still a cupcake (even if it is gluten free).



Follow a nutritional plan based on the eating habits of our ancestors in the Paleolithic period, between 2.5 million and 10,000 years ago as hunter- gatherers.


  • Grass-produced meats
  • Fish/seafood
  • Fresh fruits and veggies
  • Eggs
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Healthy fats (Olive, walnut, flaxseed, macadamia, avocado, coconut)


  • Cereal grains
  • Legumes
  • Dairy
  • Refined sugars
  • Potatoes
  • Processed foods
  • Salt
  • Refined vegetable oils

Popularized amongst cross-fit athletes and done for weight loss

Benefit if done right:

Shown to decrease inflammatory load in patients who are effected by all types of chronic disease.


What defines paleo? There were many different populations that consumed very different diets due to their location in the world. How do we prescribe “one” paleo diet?

We now know that humans have evolved not to subsist on a single, Paleolithic diet but to be flexible eaters.


Pegan is a kind of hybrid diet based on being Paleo and Vegetarian with emphasis on a low GI diet.


  • More protein and fats.
  • Eat mostly plants: 75% of plate/diet
  • Focus on nuts and seeds.
  • Gluten free whole grains
  • Meat/animal products as a “condiment”


  • Beans
  • Sugar- all forms


  • Dairy
  • Gluten
  • Beans
  • Refined sugars
  • Processed foods

Popularized by Dr. Mark Hyman.

Done for improving overall health.

Benefit if done right:

No research has been done on the “Pegan diet,” but aspects of the diet has been shown to decrease inflammation and optimize health.


If an individual starts this and isn’t fully educated of what they can or cannot eat, it can become quite restrictive. The result is not being able to consume enough calories or nutrients. Also, because it can be a restrictive diet, it can lead to social isolation, stress or orthorexia.



Eliminates all animal product with a focus on a vegetable rich diet


  • All vegetables
  • Sprouts
  • All Nuts and Seeds
  • Cereals
  • Pulses
  • All Fruits


  • Some or All animal products: meats, poultry, fish and seafood
  • Animal products: ex. dairy (eggs, butter, milk, cream)

Popularized by the China Study and animal rights organizations.

Done for health or ethical reasons.

Benefit if done right:

Shown to lower cholesterol, blood pressure, weight, and have benefit on overall health.


Vegetarianism has now become defined as “a person who does not eat meat” rather than a person who is “vegetable focused.”

By focusing on “not eating meat,” one can skew their diet to refined/ processed white carbohydrates. This can look like a diet rich in potatoes, pasta and rice. Prolonged consumption of these refined carbs will lead to nutrient deficiency.



Low carb/high fat diet: consists of a moderate protein intake, and low carbohydrate allowance (reduces carbohydrate intake to about 80-100g of carbohydrates per day).


  • All types of proteins: vegetarian and non- vegetarian
  • Vegetables
  • Healthy fats: coconut oil, olive oil, flaxseed oil, fish oil


  • Carbohydrates: refined or whole grains
  • Fruits
  • Processed foods
  • Refined sugars
  • Unhealthy fats

Prescribed for conditions like epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, ADHD, and weight loss.

Benefit if done right:

Acts as an antiepileptic and neuroprotective in conditions like epilepsy, Alzheimer’s and ADHD.

In obesity, lowers hunger, lowers food intake, stabilizes insulin levels, and assists in weight loss


Most of the confusion around a ketogenic diet/low carb diet is that one can eat more meat proteins, and saturated fats. There is no indication of the importance of:

  1. Grass-fed/ Quality Meats (which have a different nutrient profile then conventionally farmed meats)
  2. Quality fats
  3. The importance of incorporating dark leafy green vegetables in the diet.

If not done right, this diet can negatively impact cardiovascular health.



Incorporates principles of healthy eating: traditional cooking style of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea.


  • Fish
  • Monounsaturated fats: mainly olive oil
  • All fruits
  • All vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Legumes/nuts
  • Moderate alcohol consumption


  • Unhealthy fats
  • Processed foods
  • Refined sugars

General lifestyle of the Mediterranean Region.

Benefit if done right:

Reduces the burden, or prevents cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, depression, colorectal cancer, diabetes, obesity, asthma, erectile dysfunction, and cognitive decline.

Improves symptoms of cardiovascular disease. Decreases inflammation.


No problem here.

The one factor left out is that the Mediterranean diet also incorporates exercise in the daily routine.

So I still haven’t answered your question: “What diet is best for me?” Let me ask you this: What is the common variable in all these diets?

  • A focus on whole foods
  • A focus on Quality protein: grass fed beef, organic meats, fish, nuts and seeds
  • A focus on Quality fats: olive oil, coconut oil, flax oil, hemp oil, fish oils
  • A focus on unlimited vegetables and fruits
  • Removing processed foods
  • Removing refined sugars

Conclusion in: your optimal diet doesn’t have to be regimented and defined. Your optimal diet should be focused on the points above: A diet rich in vegetables and fruits, quality proteins, and complex carbohydrates all with low allergenic potential. New diet trend: going back to the basics of whole foods.

Happy Healthy Eating for 2015!

Dr Melissa LeeMelissa is a dedicated Naturopathic Doctor who is passionate about health.  She focuses on understanding people, illness patterns and disease, allowing her and her patients to identify areas of the body that need support. By actively listening and individualizing treatments, she helps people understand their health and addresses the root cause of a condition. As a regular speaker, Melissa loves engaging the community about various health topics.  From topics of detoxification, food and nutrition/sports nutrition, women’s health, etc., she is keen to share her knowledge and the latest scientific research.

With a special interest in Women’s Health and, Fertility, Melissa has worked closely with leaders in these fields: Conceive Health and the Toronto Centre for Advanced Reproductive Technology (TCART). Melissa welcomes all patients to her family practice. She has a special interest in Family Medicine, Women’s Health, Fertility, Pain Management, Chronic Illness/Autoimmune Conditions and Digestion.

Melissa is a member of the Board of Directors of Drugless Therapies- Naturopathy, the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors and the Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors. She also teaches advanced acupuncture techniques for the Neuromeridian Integrative Acupuncture Program.

Dr. Lee practices at Insight Naturopathic Clinic. Located at 550 Eglinton Ave E., Toronto, ON. T: 416-322-9980. Learn more with Dr. Lee at www.santehealth.ca


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By |January 15th, 2015|Archives, Articles, Features|

About the Author:

Strong Athlete was founded in 2011 by Strength & Conditioning Experts PK Mills and Gaétan Boutin. With over 40+ years of combined experience in sports nutrition, athletics, and fitness, the Strong Athlete team is dedicated to helping athletes achieve their maximum potential through a holistic approach to training, nutrition, and mindset.

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