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Column: Ditch the diet dogma once and for all

There seem to be just about a million nutrition experts out there these days, each touting a different diet regimen as the cure for all that ails you.

There seem to be just about a million nutrition experts out there these days, each touting a different diet regimen as the cure for all that ails you.

One group of health gurus will tell you that eating meat is sure to cause cardiovascular disease and a spare tire around your mid-section, while another group will convince you that vegetables are bad for you (yeah, that’s a thing).

Yet another group will tell you the natural sugars in fruit are toxic and to steer clear of them, while another will tell you grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes are chocked full of anti-nutrients (plant compounds that inhibit the absorption of vitamins and minerals).

It feels like nowadays, everybody has got it out for one food group or another. Don’t even get me started on dairy – poor dairy has been vilified by almost everyone from vegans to paleolithic dieters.

While I believe there are many truths to the claims mentioned above, it can seem impossible and even anxiety-inducing to determine the right diet when every food group has been criticized by some alleged diet “expert.”

I believe the truth is that any one of these food groups can be bad for you in some context or another. But what is bad for one person might be truly health-restoring to someone else.

Over the last few months, I have been diving deep into the science of nutrition and it has fascinated me. In high school, I excelled in English and social studies class, but math and science just couldn’t hold my attention. I wish I had paid more attention in biology class, though, because I’ve learned the human body is ah-mazing.

From my research, I have discovered the human body has a miraculous ability to heal itself. Once we remove the offending substances (environmental toxins, inflammatory foods, stress, and infection) the body restores itself because that’s what it was made to do.

What I’ve learned is that each bite of food you take can either serve to help you or hurt you.

There is no one-diet plan that will suit everyone. The truth is that it takes some effort to determine what foods work for you.

The obvious place to start would be to cut out foods that are generally inflammatory to everyone, including refined carbohydrates and processed sugars.

These foods aren’t inherently “bad” either. In moderation, they can serve as fuel. But in excess, they can cause inflammation to build and disease to set in.

There are certain foods we should all try to eat less of, and certain food groups that are worth experimenting with, like gluten and dairy.

But at the end of the day, if you are going to be hyper-restrictive with your diet, the stress of doing so might be more detrimental to your health than eating the foods you’re trying to avoid.

What is the solution? Balance.

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