With rates of diabetes and obesity exploding across the Western world, something needs to change.
Unfortunately, most people are hooked on the standard Western diet which is terrible for health.
Junk food predominates; packaged food is everywhere, and almost everything is made from three ingredients: vegetable oils, flours, and sugars.
But what healthier options are out there if people want to make a change?
For those that need a guideline template to follow, there are several natural diets out there that emphasize real food.
This article will take a look at five of them.
#1. Low Carb, High Fat
The low-carb diet has been popular for some years in various shapes and forms.
The core values of the low carb diet involve ditching refined foods and emphasizing naturally occurring food high in natural fats.
In other words; no vegetable oils, no grains, no sugars, and limiting foods that are high in digestible carbohydrate.
Following this diet in the right way has some truly impressive impacts on health. In brief, these include reduced blood sugar levels, a better cholesterol profile, and almost effortless weight loss.
While some people fear dietary fat, there is absolutely nothing wrong with naturally occurring fat.
- Animal fats
- Cold-pressed oils (avocado, coconut, olive)
- Dairy (preferably raw and unpasteurized)
- Fatty fish
Fats to Avoid
- Industrial vegetable oils (canola, corn, soybean, rice bran, sunflower, safflower,
In addition to healthy fats, the diet also encourages moderate protein consumption and nutrient-dense, fibrous carbohydrates.
#2. Ketogenic Diet
The ketogenic diet isn’t too dissimilar from the low-carb diet.
However, it is much stricter; ketogenic dieters aim to restrict carbohydrate levels to less than 30g per day.
As a result of following this plan, people receive benefits similar to the low-carb diet, but much more pronounced.
On the negative side, there are also a few drawbacks.
For one thing, many people starting the diet for the first time experience ‘keto flu’ for a week or so. Although it’s not real flu, people can feel very weak and ill as their body adapts to burning fat rather than glucose.
To conform with the ketogenic diet, think about the foods and drinks you can eat:
- Low-sugar fruits (berries, avocado)
- Very dark chocolate
As shown above, the ketogenic diet is a good choice for people wanting to follow a whole food, natural diet.
For one thing, it emphasizes incredibly nutrient-dense, natural foods. There is no space for any processed or packaged foods. If we think back to the lives of people thousands of years ago, there’s a good chance many of our ancestors were eating like this.
#3. The Paleo Diet
Unlike the previous two diets, the paleo diet doesn’t restrict carbohydrate.
In brief, here are the allowable foods on the paleo diet:
- Fish and seafood
- Grass-fed meats
- Healthy fats (see the ketogenic diet section)
- Natural sugars
- Non-gluten grains
For the most part, paleo is one of the most natural diets and focuses on nutrient-dense whole foods.
However, due to the vast popularity of the diet, it has unfortunately become quite commercialized.
As a result, there are lots of ‘paleo approved’ products on the market, which usually consist of flours, sugars, and oils.
For instance, a cake containing 50g of coconut sugar is not too different to a cake using table sugar. Yet the first one is ‘paleo approved’ and the second is not.
Despite this, all sugars break down into glucose and have the same effect once in the body.
But the paleo diet does do many things right, and it’s a definite improvement on the daily diet most of us are eating.
#4. The Wild Diet
Ever since appearing on the TV show ‘My Diet is Better Than Yours,’ the Wild Diet has been one of the hottest diets around.
In truth, it is virtually identical to the paleo diet with only two differences.
- Dairy is allowed
- Occasional ‘cheat’ days are possible – and on these days you can eat anything.
Dairy is a controversial food in the nutrition world and one which many people disagree on. Personally, I believe that it’s perfectly healthy – for some people.
While many people have difficulties digesting dairy, that’s no real reason to say that nobody should eat it. Especially raw, unpasteurized cheese is one of the tastiest, most natural and nutritious foods available.
Sadly it’s difficult to find many raw kinds of cheese at present. But with interest in ancestral and traditional foods continuing to rise, hopefully, this will change.
Cheat days are also controversial, particularly for people who have food or sugar addiction problems.
One day of eating sweet, sugary food can often change into a week and then a month for these people. And food addiction is also a much under-recognized problem nowadays.
Overall, the Wild Diet does many things right; it encourages lots of healthy food, but it isn’t too restrictive.
For some people, this is vital as the idea of restricting certain foods (however unhealthy) scares them away.
#5. The Weston A. Price Foundation Diet (WAPF)
The WAPF diet is also very similar to the paleo diet, with a few key differences;
- The WAPF diet allows grains and legumes.
- According to the WAPF, raw milk/dairy is one of the healthiest food groups.
- The WAPF has more focus on eating higher amounts of fatty meats, organs and gelatin.
Despite the Weston A. Price Foundation encouraging grains, that doesn’t mean the diet promotes eating pasta and sandwiches.
WAPF advise that they allow grains providing they have been soaked and sprouted.
In other words, they recommend grain-consumption providing they are traditionally prepared in the same way our ancestors used to.
As a result, this preparation removes some of the anti-nutrients, which can cause inflammation and block mineral absorption in the body.
No matter which of these natural diets you try, they are all much better than the ultra-processed Western diet.
Real food is so important to our overall health. While a poor diet probably won’t affect you now, who knows the hidden, progressive damage inside?
As the saying goes, prevention is always better than cure.
About the Author
Michael Joseph is a nutrition educator who believes in health optimization through real food. He writes regularly at http://nutritionadvance.com