An Atlanta dietitian shares the facts on four trendy diets

Danielle Lewis, the owner of Atlanta’s DL Dietetics, evaluates the latest fads

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Do fad diets actually work?

Photograph by Getty Images

Danielle Lewis has seen her share of nutrition trends come and go since becoming a registered dietitian. (Anybody remember the Tapeworm Diet? No? Good.) Here, the owner of Atlanta’s DL Dietetics evaluates the latest fads.

Apple Cider Vinegar

The advice: Drink vinegar made from fermented apple juice.

What it claims to do:
Whiter teeth, weight loss, steadier blood sugar, strengthened gut biome

The facts: “Some of the claims may hold true, but it isn’t a magic bullet. Apple cider vinegar is unlikely to contribute to weight loss. There is research to support that ACV may be effective in stabilizing the blood sugar by improving the body’s sensitivity to insulin. But ACV is also very acidic, so it can potentially worsen some GI symptoms, such as acid reflux. This high acid content can also lead to tooth erosion if repeatedly consumed without dilution.”

The MIND Diet

The advice: MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. It is a combination of the Mediterranean diet—based on foods favored in regions around the Mediterranean Sea, including France, Spain, Greece, and Italy, where rates of heart disease are relatively low—and the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). Foods to eat include vegetables, berries, nuts, olive oil, whole grains, fish, beans, poultry, and a bit of wine.

What it claims to do: Reduced risk of dementia, lowered blood pressure, reduced risk of heart disease

The facts: “Both have been heavily researched, and these claims hold true. The combination of these two diets involves a list of 10 foods to include in your diet and five foods to limit. The diet is relatively new, but the research is promising that it does help reduce the risk of dementia and improve brain health.”

Whole30

The advice: Cut out alcohol, sugar, grains, legumes, dairy, and additives for 30 days.

What it claims to do: Reboots eating habits and cravings, reduces food sensitivities, improves skin and digestion, reduces chronic pain

The facts: “There is not much research. However, those who have tried the diet report positive changes. This is likely due to the decrease in processed foods and the increase in fruits, vegetables, and other whole foods. However, the diet is very strict and difficult to maintain, so, at the end of the 30 days, people often go back to their old eating habits—and see their symptoms return. The diet also eliminates many nutrient-dense foods that can be part of a healthy diet such as whole grains, legumes, and dairy.”

Intermittent Fasting

The advice: Eat only during a certain number of hours each day.

What it claims to do: Weight loss, lower blood pressure, stabilized blood sugar, improved brain health

The facts: “The thought is that the fasting window will increase insulin sensitivity to help stabilize blood sugar and aid in weight loss, which will decrease blood pressure and the risk of developing metabolic syndrome [a group of conditions that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes], which is also a potential risk factor for neurological diseases. While this sounds promising, the majority of research on intermittent fasting has been done in animals, so more research is required to confirm the efficacy of this diet in humans.

“However, is it realistic to never eat past 8 p.m. or to always have your first meal at 12 p.m.? Maybe. But probably not. In my opinion, it is important to listen to your hunger and fullness cues for long-term success.”

This article appears in our April 2022 issue.

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