DANGEROUS DIETING

The Whole 30 diet by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig (Yellow Kite, £18.99), cuts out all traces of sugar, alcohol, grains, dairy and legumes for 30 days. While I have used similar protocols in some extreme situations in my clinic, this type of diet makes me more than a little uneasy when it’s recommended en masse. While you can create some healthy, delicious meals with the foods you’re allowed, in my view this very restrictive diet isn’t healthy for most people, nutritionally or psychologically. It requires a degree of professional management that’s not widely available.

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And I’m not the only one who thinks The Whole 30 is a diet to be careful about – the experts who rank diets every year at US News and World Report have placed it 37 out of 40 in the ‘best diet overall’ category for 2018, while calling out its extreme and restrictive nature and claims that can’t be delivered. While it’s possible to improve metabolism through diet and lifestyle change, or improve gut health, which in turn boosts immunity, those changes need more support than this diet delivers. However, what’s put this diet firmly in the sin bin for me is that if you make even the smallest slip, you have to go back to the beginning and the authors make you feel bad for failing. My advice? Don’t cut out lots of whole food groups – a healthy diet needs wholegrains and pulses.

Is wholemeal bread always better for my blood sugar?

A It’s generally said that wholegrains are better for blood sugar (they raise it less dramatically and produce smaller insulin spikes) than white carbs, but some types of white bread – white sourdough in particular – seem not to raise blood sugar any more quickly than wholemeal. This may be down to how fine the flour is ground and not whether it’s wholegrain – so a finely textured wholemeal bread may be digested quickly, but if a bread has whole seeds and intact grains in it, these slow the blood-sugar rise. A recent study in Cell Metabolism also found that how a person’s blood sugar rises after they eat white and wholegrain bread can vary and may be down to differences in gut flora. However, a higher-fibre option is always better health wise.

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