UAE: Doctors affirm fad diets do not promote healthy living

UAE: Doctors affirm fad diets do not promote healthy living

Experts have pointed out that a majority of fad diets promise unrealistic weight loss, adding that they do not promote health. 

According to Dr Baljinder Singh, head of emergency department at Thumbay University Hospital, most of the such diets may lead to some weight loss, but it is difficult identify if it is fat loss or muscle mass. Furthermore, once the diet is stopped, there is an imminent possibility of weight gain. 

In current circumstances, diet plans like low carb diet, Keto diet, only-juice diet among other have become quite popular, while other people have chosen metabolism-boosting pills or fat burning pills to shed the extra fat. 

Dr Singh explained that a fad diet is a plan that promoting fast weight loss without proper scientific evidence to support its benefits. In the UAE in particular, people are following Keto diet, detox diet, Atkins diet, only-fruit diet, gluten-free diet among others. 

Medics have underlined that such diets are tough to follow in the long run after initial enthusiasm. Juliot Vinolia Rajarathinam, clinical dietitian and consultant nutritionist at Dubai's Medeor Hospital, said that most fad diets can affect overall health and complicate pre-existing medical conditions. At the same time, there is an impact on one’s energy levels and productivity. “These diets lead to loss of muscle mass and slowing down of the metabolism, signalling the body to switch on to fat-storage mode,” added Vinolia.

Vinolia has also highlighted the risk of nutritional deficiency, especially iron, vitamin D and calcium. Vitamins are crucial for hormonal function and general health. Fad diets can result in hypothyroidism, PCOD, gall stones, kidney stones and insulin insensitivity, added Vinolia. 

Dr Singh also underlined that depriving the body of essential nutrients can lead to side effects including dehydration, bad breath, fatigue, hair loss, bowel disturbance, elevated uric acid and kidney-related issues, and specific deficiencies.

Effective Solution

Therefore, specialists have called for following healthy lifestyle instead of following fad diets. A healthy lifestyle can include eating a balanced diet and ensure regular physical activity. 

“The benefit of any short-cut diet plan never lasts and always brings some health risks. The approach should be to consume timely meals — especially early dinner — avoid overeating, and refrain from sugar and processed foods," Dr Singh added.

He also suggested to ensure drinking an adequate amount of water throughout the day with at least 30 minutes of exercise three times a week. 

Experts also underline the need to eating meals at regular intervals as the first step to overcome overeating and achieve improved digestion and health. Dr Singh stressed the need for meal planning for a healthy lifestyle, including planning a grocery list in advance and limiting unhealthy items such as processed foods, soft drinks and sugary or high salt foodstuffs.

Lastly, the doctor advised to limit eating out to maintain weight and stay healthy. 

Meanwhile, Vinolia has revealed three factors impacting our food habits:

1. Brain

Mood swings, stress, and sleep deprivation can impact the level of feel-good chemicals such as serotonin, melatonin, and dopamine in the brain. Therefore, it is important to be mindful of eating sugar as it greatly impact chemical release, making us more addicted to sugar. Doctors advice to avoid bingeing on sugar for stress relief. Instead, people can choose warm herbal teas, unsweetened cocoa, dark chocolates and natural foods like nuts to limit sugar craving. 

2. Gut

People often confuse hunger with thirst and end up snacking. Therefore, people can sip on hot or cold water to avoid unnecessary snacking between meal times.

3. Mind

It is important to have a sound, stress-free mind which is maintained by a work-life balance with adequate sleep, meditation, and exercising. Such healthy habits trigger happiness-boosting hormones and help the brain in better understanding the body signals and maintaining overall wellbeing.

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