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Why Fad Diets Can Actually Harm Your Heart Health

Follow these principles instead.

16/06/2017 9:10 AM IST | Updated 16/06/2017 4:01 PM IST
Rimma_Bondarenko via Getty Images

In the present era, most of us are health conscious. It's a good evolution that is taking place in our society—many more people are aiming to get fit and are concerned about their eating and lifestyle habits.

Nonetheless, there is also another group of people who are in a hurry to get instant results, and thus choose to follow fad diet regimes. And while they may indeed see the kilos drop off in the short-term, they are missing the big picture. Fad diets cannot take you towards a healthy and disease-free lifestyle. Indeed, they can actually wreak havoc on your health.

Speedy weight loss can result in cardiac stress and make the metabolism sluggish, leading to future weight gain.

Now, most of us know that unhealthy foods not only increase the percentage of fat in our body but also harm our cardiovascular fitness. Because of this correlation, we tend to think that just dropping the weight will be enough to get rid of cardiovascular diseases. But this is not true.

Speedy weight loss can result in cardiac stress and make the metabolism sluggish, leading to future weight gain. It also cuts off the supply of essential nutrients which indirectly weakens our immune system, dehydrates the body and increases heart palpitations. And the chances of developing heart disease may even increase.

A diet has to be balanced. We need to have different nutrients from different food groups. Carbohydrates, minerals, fat, vitamins, proteins all are equally necessary for our health. We can only get that when we have a diet which is rich in variety. You can't just have food that comes with the "heart-healthy" tag and expect your overall health to benefit. So, unvarying consumption of any particular diet for wellness of the heart won't help to get a satisfactory outcome because there are other organs which are involved in the breakdown as well as absorption of that diet.

If the other organs are taken care equally, they will help to absorb the diet right and it will reach the endocardium cells of the heart. Hence we need variety of nutrients for those different organs too. Besides the stress of following a highly restrictive diet is bad for the body and ultimately does not stave off weight gain. Eating the right kind of food—and enough of it—is necessary.

It's thus not a good idea to fixate on cutting calories alone. Because calories can be either good or bad. For example, 500 calories of a dessert and 500 calories of a salad are qualitatively different. Obviously, we get more nutrition from the salad. Of course, this does not mean that we overeat healthy foods either, but that we focus more on ensuring our body gets the right amount of nutrients and "good fats" that it needs.

You can't JUST have food that comes with the "heart-healthy" tag and expect your overall health to benefit.

It is a good idea to make sure your diet contains foods that are anti-inflammatory because inflammation is often the root cause of heart disease. So, ensure that you eat plenty of items that reduce inflammation, such as garlic, turmeric, raw carrot, raw cucumber, grains, dals, almonds, peanuts, pumpkin seeds etc.

And while you're at it, forget about spot reduction. We have to choose a diet which manages and boosts metabolism so that the body overall burns fat. Cutting down junk and oily foods, especially sugar, will get you there eventually.

And finally a word on the latest fad—detox water. Remember: detoxification is a multi-factorial process. We need to eat healthy foods, we need to exercise, we need to sweat. We can drink as much detox water as we want to but if our stress level is chronically high, there'll be less impact. Also, make sure to pick the right detox water. People who have too much heat in their body will get over-heated from spice detox water, but those who are more acidic will actually benefit from lemon detox water. Therefore detox water should be carefully customised to your needs.

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