Rank the Diets for 2020!

January 06, 2020

ReferencesUS and News and World ReportDASH DietFlexitarian DietKeto DietOrnish DietFast Mimicking Diet,

It's the new year and you are 10 pounds overweight, or worse? Want a ranking of the diets from top to bottom? Good old US News and World Report does it for you. And they get it mostly right, but not quite. Here is why.

The rank the "Mediterranean Diet" as the best because of " balance, maintainability, palatability, family-friendliness, sustainability, along with healthfulness". Ok, those are good reasons. The problem is the Mediterranean has some 25 different diets from 25 different countries. Israeli food is different than French foods, than Libyan or Greek or Turkish. They do have some things in common. Lots of olive oil. Lots of vegetables. Lots of fish. Less meat. More legumes. Ok. that's pretty good. And they have lots of recipes. That's better. I would add that those countries have more walking and bicycles with fewer cars, more Vitamin D and more A2 milk. And they are poorer than northern European countries. Where there is great longevity, there are pockets of folks who are "economically less well off". They are poorer, and they routinely skimp on food when the money runs out. Big issues that are not controlled for. 

Diet #2 is the DASH Diet which is "Dietary Approaches to Limit Hypertension". Actually, that's cool. High blood pressure is a clear indication of "annoyed and inflamed arteries" and eating less sodium, more potassium in a Mediterranean type diet should come in close. If it lowers your blood pressure the best, it's doing its job. 
The #3 ranking goes to the Flexitarian Diet which is mostly vegetables with an occasional bit of meat. The Mediterranean pushed a bit to more veges. Less fat. More vegetables results in more potassium. DASHing!

The WORST DIET? Keto. As defined by being over 80% fat and very low carbs. That's because it is so based on animal fat. All the bacon and steak you want. Men will lose weight on it. Women, not so much. But the inconvenient truth is that men with the highest consumption of animal protein and fat have the most heart disease. Come on! We just can't do that diet. 

What's missing? If you read this column you know. It's all about the effect of food on insulin. Green vegetables are turned into a short-chain fatty acid called beta-hydroxybutyrate in your gut. That has no effect on insulin. It counts as a fat. The real, effective, life saving "Keto Diet" is a vegan diet. The Ornish Diet, #9 on the list, has been proven to reverse heart disease. It's vegan and NO FAT. That means no friends and no eating out. It's too hard to do. Esselstyn, from the Cleveland Clinic, has proven it reverses heart disease. The proof is there.

When you lower your insulin, your fat cells get out of storage mode and start sharing their calories. That is what weight loss is. Losing your extra fat and stopping the storage of it. Carbs turn on insulin. Sugar turns on insulin. Sweet turns on insulin. Fruit turns on insulin. Large amounts of animal protein turns on insulin. To lose weight, you have to turn off insulin. And when you do, you don't feel starving hungry. Insulin is your storage hormone, not your blood sugar controlling hormone.

But all these points miss the most important diet of all. The Fast Mimicking Diet turns on STEM CELLS. If you want to live longer, you have to build resiliency and reverse the inevitable decline in stem cells that keep your organs functioning. 

The Fast Mimicking Diet is essentially the Mediterranean Diet combined with daily 12-14 hour intermittent fasting with a monthly - quarterly 5-day episode of 800 vegan calories that includes 50% fat. You will get to a ketosis of 0.7 - 1.2 on a 12 hour fast. But with Fast Mimicking, you will get to levels of 3.0 in three days and sustain it for three days if you do the 5-day schedule.

The untested hypothesis remains. Are all the diets that encourage more vegetables also making you more alkaline, and is that the key? Stay tuned.

WWW: What will work for me. I believe Longo's work about stem cells. His data shows that you add 20 years to your life when you turn on stem cells with the regular practice of the fast mimicking diet. All of modern medicine adds 8 years to your life. But losing weight is the first and most important step. How much to lose? Until your blood pressure is 115/70 without meds. Until your blood sugar is below 85 fasting. Until your insulin is below 5. Until your Hemoglobin A1c is below 5.5.

Pop Quiz

  1. The common theme in all the ranked diets is what? Answer: Losing weight with programs that have palatable food, community, support, and more vegetables along the lines of the so-called Mediterranean diet.
  2. What is the hormone you have to turn off to lose weight? Answer: Insulin. Insulin is your storage hormone, your get fat hormone, your "winter is coming, it's time to put on weight" hormone so we can make it through winter.
  3. What form of "Keto diet" is actually ok? Answer: The ones that get their ketones from green vegetables that make beta-hydroxybutyrate in the gut, that counts as a fat or a ketone.
  4. What's the problem with animal fat? Answer: We die from it. At least the saturated form made by animals that eat corn and beans. Animals that eat pure green plant diets may not make the same vascular disease problems.
  5. And what is missing from all the popular diets? Answer: The unbelievable power of fasting. Fast mimicking appears to span that gap by making it possible to do it without being too impossible. And reproduces the diet-induced by poverty in Southern Mediterranean Europe where there are so many 100 year old, who fast mimick all the time whether they like it or not.