Nowadays, nearly everything you can purchase you can customize. From your phone to your mattress, whatever feature you think is best for you–you can have it. It’s the beauty of consumer freedom.
So why isn’t the same true of what you eat? It seems as though people are quicker to pick apart what’s on your plate than they are to choose what to eat themselves.
According to author Gary Taubes’ recent essay in The Wall Street Journal, there is no good reason. In his essay, Taubes dives into the keto diet, a typically meat-heavy diet that has increased in popularity even while plant-based eating has become more mainstream. Startups making plant-based meat alternatives have raised billions of dollars in recent years and market the message that plants are healthier than animal products.
But Taubes argues that research shows the keto diet can actually be quite healthy. For example, the keto diet may be great for diabetics because it keeps blood sugar levels consistently low due to the fact that the keto diet is based in part on restricting consumption of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates often spike blood sugar levels. Keto diets also help reduce body fat, a major risk factor for those who have type 2 diabetes or those who are prediabetic. Before insulin’s discovery, animal diets, which are high in animal-sourced proteins and fats and low in carbohydrates, were “the standard of care for diabetes.”
As Taubes points out, not all calories affect the body equally. Some may have different effects on your metabolism and fat storage. Ever since the U.S. Senate’s 1977’s “Dietary Goals for the United States,” a healthy diet has been defined by limiting animal product consumption.
In years since, those guidelines have been reinforced by problematic studies analyzing only what people recall eating weeks or sometimes months in the past–not controlled studies that take into account the plethora of other factors that affect an individual’s health.
New diets have popped up left and right for decades, tempting consumers with promises of getting trim and healthy in a matter of months. America’s obsession with weight loss and dieting has created a $72 billion-a-year industry.
If you ask evangelists of any diet, they will tell you it is the One True Diet. It’s helpful to be skeptical. Everybody is different. If you have a healthy diet that works for you, keep it.