Tummy troubles are never fun.
Especially when the next step is figuring out what is making you sick in the first place.
Starting in young adulthood, our bodies may reach a limit where they can no longer handle foods that cause inflammation, or that contain dairy or carbohydrates.
Once you pinpoint exactly what your body needs to thrive, you can cut out the unnecessary foods that are not doing your body well.
Three of the most infamous diet plans exist so that your body can thrive in the healthiest possible way while omitting foods that your body does not like.
These diet plans include the Anti-Inflammatory Diet, the Dairy-Free Diet, and the Atkins Diet.
The Anti-Inflammatory Diet
To understand this diet, we will first need to understand inflammation.
Inflammation is the body’s fighting response to harm, such as infections, toxins, or injuries in an attempt to heal itself.
Even pollen can cause inflammation during allergy season.
The elements that best help reduce inflammation are antioxidants, therefore making the anti-inflammatory diet very high in fresh foods that contain antioxidants.
Sadly, inflammation can also occur when there are no triggers present.
This is called chronic inflammation, and although doctors don’t know exactly what causes it, the anti-inflammatory diet can greatly help reduce symptoms of this chronic illness.
What Does the Anti-Inflammatory Diet Look Like?
At its simplest explanation, the anti-inflammatory diet reduces the intake of foods that cause inflammation and increases the consumption of foods that lessen inflammation.
Omega-3 fatty acids in high levels are imperative to the anti-inflammatory diet, as they are consistently linked to reducing inflammation.
Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids are:
- Dark leafy greens
- Cod liver oil
- Flax seeds
- Chia seeds
Andrew Weil founded the anti-inflammatory diet with the Mediterranean diet in mind, which consists of fresh foods, seafood, and avoiding excessive amounts of red meat.
Wheat and gluten are avoided as well.
He proposed following this food intake distribution:
Carbohydrates: 40 to 50%
Protein: 20 to 30%
With these carb, fat, and protein allowances, Weil proposed the following foods to eat and avoid.
- Olive oil
- Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, and collards
- Nuts such as almonds or walnuts
- Fish high in omega-3s like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines
- Fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges
- Fried foods
- Processed foods
- Sugary drinks/food
- Refined carbs
- Processed meat
- Foods containing gluten
As always, talk to your doctor before beginning a new diet.
The anti-inflammatory diet is highly regarded as a healthy, risk-free diet to follow, although it may be hard to follow with 100% accuracy.
The Dairy-Free Diet
The dairy-free diet is exactly as it sounds; all dairy products are omitted from one’s diet.
That does not mean this diet is inherently vegan, although it is a part of taking steps to become vegan.
Many people claim they cannot live without cheese or milk in their lives, which is totally fine.
The dairy-free diet is more about reducing symptoms of lactose intolerance or an allergy to lactose.
Lactose intolerance causes an inability for the stomach to break down lactose, causing some pretty uncomfortable digestive symptoms.
Symptoms of lactose intolerance happen after consuming dairy, including:
- Stomach ache and cramps
If you experience any of these symptoms after consuming dairy products, talk to your doctor.
What Does the Dairy-Free Diet Look Like?
Dairy is often a main source of calcium for healthy adults.
Lactose intolerant folks can transition to dairy-free alternatives, although checking the ingredients list every time is a good idea to ensure there is not hidden lactose in the product.
Some foods to avoid on the dairy-free diet are:
- Whey protein
- Milk powder
- Milk solids
- Milk protein
- Nonfat dry milk
Lactose-free milk is a product that is available to those avoiding dairy.
It is a product that food manufacturers make by taking regular cow’s milk and adding lactase to the product.
Lactase is the naturally-occurring enzyme in our bodies that allows the breakdown of lactose.
Folks with lactose-intolerance have trouble producing lactase on their own.
Even so, many lactose-intolerant people claim that milk with added lactase can still produce the unfavorable symptoms that regular milk does.
Making the switch to nut milk, soy milk, or oat milk and avoiding all other dairy is the best way to tackle the dairy-free diet.
The Atkins Diet
The most popular diet craze to come out of the last century is the Atkins diet.
Beginning in the 1960s, cardiologist Robert C. Atkins developed this diet, which omits carbohydrate intake but does not limit fat or protein.
Similar, but not exact, diets today would include the keto diet.
Atkins proposed that eating minimal carbs will help in losing weight and regulating blood sugar in a person trying to shed some pounds.
This diet does not involve calorie or macro counting.
It is merely a system of counting the intake of carbs in one’s diet.
What Does the Atkins Diet Look Like?
The Atkins diet consists of four phases to lead to successful weight loss.
The four phases of the Atkins diet include:
- Phase 1: Induction
- Phase 2: Balancing
- Phase 3: Pre-Maintenance
- Phase 4: Lifetime Maintenance
During this first phase, dieters are only allowed to eat 20 or fewer grams of carbs per day.
It is the most strict of all phases in this diet plan.
Vegetables, protein, and dairy are consumed for almost every single meal throughout the day.
Most fruits, grains, breads, pastas, nuts, and alcohol are avoided.
The second phase is all about integrating starchier vegetables back into your diet along with berries, nuts, and seeds.
Diets stay in this second phase until their weight loss goals are reached, then they can move onto phase 3.
The third phase of the Atkins diet gradually increases the number of starchy vegetables, fruits, and whole grains one can consume in a day.
You can add about 10 grams of carbs back into your diet each day.
Dieters stay in this phase until they reach their goal weight.
This last phase is the lifetime maintenance phase, which means you keep up this eating plan for the rest of your life.
In theory, this phase should help you maintain your weight loss forever.
Due to the popularity of the Atkins diet, carbohydrates were demonized for many years, as many people thought carbs alone caused weight gain.
We now know that carb intake is very important and essential for everyday function.
Macronutrient intake should always be based on the individual person, as everyone is different.
Healthy individuals do not need to reduce their carb intake – it is more for people with known health issues.
All in all, the Atkins diet is too specific for the general population, as carbs are important for healthy people to stay healthy.
There will always be diet trends out there, but that does not mean healthy people should jump ship to participate.
Diets should be based on the individual person and their health and dietary needs.
For example, people with inflammation should follow a diet that reduces foods that cause inflammation.
Lactose-intolerant folks should follow a diet that omits all dairy products.
Just because a diet becomes wildly popular, like the Atkins diet, does not mean it is the best option for the general public.
Work with your doctor, listen to your body, and eat foods based on what makes you feel good.