Hemorrhoids, pilesIt’s nothing new to find dozens of diet fads sweeping the country. Look anywhere and  you can find quick fix supplements and drugs including liquid drops, pills, and powders that claim to boost your metabolism, support your immune function and restore overall health–but  we know those aren’t the safest way to a lean, well performing body and mind.

Instead, many of today’s health conscious are turning their attention to new eating habits and ditching the diet mill. You may have heard of them–they go by “clean eating”, “paleo”, “gluten free” and all kinds of other names. Are they right for you? It depends. Are they safe? Thankfully for the most part, yes. Are they easy to follow? Well, not always. Here’s a breakdown of the  most common food trends today–consider them yourself and talk to your doctor if you have questions.

The Clean Eating Diet

Clean eating is a lifestyle approach that focusing on consuming food in it’s most natural (and unprocessed) state. Much of today’s food supply is highly processed and filled with stabilizers, additives and chemicals that change the structure of the food or allow it to sit on store shelves for weeks, months or even years. Clean eating supporters avoid processed white flours including pasta, traditional flour, and white sugar and choose whole grains instead. Items that are fried, or high in sugar are also off the list. What is approved for a clean eating lifestyle? Organic meat, eggs, unprocessed dairy, and fruits and vegetables lower in pesticide exposure–also called the “clean fifteen” by some.

The Paleo Diet

Paleo comes from the word “paleolithic” or caveman diet. Don’t worry, there’s no need to start grunting and carrying a club. It’s just a term that focuses on eating as early man did. Nuts, berries, meats, fish, eggs and healthy oils like walnut, flax seed and coconut are all included.  Dairy, salt, refined oils, and legumes–yes even beans–are off the list. If you couldn’t find it in an open field or growing naturally, then it doesn’t belong on a Paleo diet.

The Gluten Free Diet

While some people choose a gluten free lifestyle by choice, many others must avoid the wheat-based protein for other more serious health reasons. Men, women and children with Celiac disease must avoid gluten altogether to stay healthy. For others, being gluten free makes them feel more energetic, think more clearly, or help your body run more efficiently. Truth be told, avoiding foods that contain gluten (wheat/white flour based breads, pastas, crackers, oats, barley and rye) should make you feel better anyway because you limit the empty carbohydrates and their processed counterparts. Gluten free followers are able to enjoy many wonderful foods today as more and more people get on board. All meats, dairy, fruits, and vegetables are allowed as long as they aren’t contaminated with gluten. This means saying bye-bye to breading or enjoying that fast food french fry that was cooked in the same oil as your partner’s crispy chicken.

Changing your diet can have big benefits when it comes to function and overall health. Of course, you should never start a new diet without talking to your doctor first. Especially if you have other medical conditions like diabetes, or follow a special diet for other reasons. A nutritionist may also be able to help guide you should you decide to try a new healthy eating plan.