As an entrepreneur, you might not pay too much attention to diet fads, but some trends may be worth following. These four popular diets each have something to offer busy entrepreneurs looking to improve energy, reduce risk of heart disease and chronic diseases such as diabetes and improve overall well-being. Just remember to consult with your physician before making any major dietary changes.
Spaghetti Squash 'Pesto Un-Pasta' image credit: Hullabaloo Homestead
Praised for aiding weight loss, digestion and preventing disease, a diet that was once only for celiac sufferers and individuals with gluten sensitivity, eating gluten-free has become a popular dietary choice. Supermarket shelves are lined with gluten-free options. "Gluten is mainly found in barley, rye and wheat and many processed foods," explains Los Angeles-based registered dietician Ashley Koff co-author of Mom Energy (Hay House, 2011).
Since many processed foods contain a lot of gluten, reducing these from your diet and replacing them with fruits and vegetables increases your nutrient intake and promotes better digestion which will improve energy levels. A gluten-free diet also eliminates unhealthy oils and carbohydrates commonly found in bread products such as donuts and pastries, resulting in lower cholesterol levels. Replacing crackers with cucumbers or a bed of lettuce to replace a hamburger bun are things anyone can do, even those who don't have a medical reason to eat less gluten.
Paleo Tuna Cakes image credit: Raf's Kitchen
The Paleo diet has also been called the "caveman diet." Followers eat foods that mimic the diet of our ancestors from the pre-agricultural, pre-processed foods era. Founded by Loren Cordain, a scientist who specializes in nutrition, the basis of the diet claims that the prevalence of obesity and type II diabetes is a result of our bodies' inability to handle modern-day diets which are typically full of sugar and processed foods. The diet focuses on eating only fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, eggs, fish and grass-produced meats.
One of the benefits of a diet that reduces added sugars and refined carbohydrates such as flour is that the digestive system becomes less burdened. This is good news for your immune system. Since 75 percent of your immune system is located in your gut, good digestion helps your body fight off disease. If you're going to follow this diet, however, Koff advises examining what nutrients are excluded by removing dairy and grains from your diet and replacing those nutrients with other food sources.
Juice image credit: GoodnessDirect Blog
Juicing has been a health remedy for thousands of years, but has now gained popularity in North America as a convenient way to increase fruit and vegetable intake. Koff says getting nutrients in liquid form can be a good option when you don't have time to sit down and enjoy a meal. "When something is in liquid form, the body processes it really quickly," says Koff. Drinking a juice over the course of an hour long conference rather than scarfing down a quick five minute meal before picking up the phone can also help stabilize blood sugar, keeping you away from spikes and crashes in energy. Although juice detox diets may be popular, Koff says juicing should be an addition to a healthy balanced diet if it helps keep up your daily intake of fruits and vegetables. She cautions that smoothies don't pack a ton of calories and aren't meant to be a meal replacement.
A Mediterranean Dish image credit: Alternative Medicine
Koff says this diet has entrepreneurs written all over it. The Mediterranean diet is full of nutrients that reduce inflammation and improve brain health and focus. The diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, olive oil, flavorful herbs and spices and healthy fats such as omega 3 fatty acids from fish and nuts, finished off with a splash of red wine. There's also emphasis on enjoying food, flavour, texture and taste, which can force you to slow down and reflect during your busy day. "All of these things can really nurture an entrepreneur, because we want to celebrate our creativity," says Koff.
Corrections & Amplifications: A previous version of this article recommended substituting dried fruits for carbohydrates for followers of the Paleo diet. However, Koff doesn't advise that substitution.