6 Dietary Tips Every Patient Needs

In the sea of conflicting diet advice, clinicians often find it challenging to guide patients toward optimal nutrition. However, research consistently emphasises the pivotal role of nutrition in human health. To help cut through the confusion, here are six evidence-based tips that clinicians can share with their patients to promote long-term well-being, written by our Medical Director, Dr David Knight.

  1. Embrace the Rainbow: Encouraging patients to choose a vibrant array of unprocessed foods in their natural state can significantly impact their health. A JAMA study revealed that almost half of cardio-metabolic deaths in the U.S. were linked to suboptimal intakes of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and omega-3 fatty acids. The American Heart Association recommends filling at least half of the plate with fruits and vegetables, emphasising the importance of variety for both colour and taste.
  2. Say No to Processed Foods: Processed foods, including sugary snacks, smoked meats, and white flour, contribute to cardio-metabolic risks. Research indicates that minimising processed foods can positively impact health outcomes. The upcoming FDA dietary guidelines aim to provide clearer information to empower patients to make healthier food choices.
  3. Choose Realistic, Balanced Diets: Tailoring diets to individual preferences and needs is key to success. Diets focusing on increased vegetable and fruit intake, high fibre, whole grains, adequate water, reduced sugar, sufficient protein, and healthy fats promote weight loss and maintenance. Various diets, such as the Mediterranean, DASH, and intermittent fasting, offer flexibility and effectiveness.
  4. Opt for Healthy Oils: Incorporating heart-healthy oils like fish, olive, and avocado can have significant benefits. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oils, are linked to cardiovascular health. Vegetarians can turn to flaxseed, walnut, or chia seed oils. The evidence supports the continued recommendation of omega-3 supplements for those with heart disease.
  5. Limit Red Meat Intake: Research consistently associates red meat consumption with increased risks of cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. Substituting red meat with alternatives like fish, poultry, legumes, nuts, whole grains, and low-fat dairy is linked to a reduction in mortality risk.
  6. Prioritise Gut Health: Consuming probiotics through fermented foods or supplements, coupled with a fibre-rich diet, supports gastrointestinal health. Probiotics contribute to a balanced microbiome, influencing overall well-being. Emerging research suggests connections between gut health and conditions such as diabetes and colon cancer.

While these six tips form a robust foundation for a healthy lifestyle, it’s essential customise dietary recommendations based on preferences and health goals ensures greater adherence and long-term success. Additionally, avoiding excessive alcohol intake and relying on whole foods rather than supplements further enhance the benefits of a balanced diet. As evidence continues to mount, clinicians play a crucial role in empowering patients to make informed dietary choices for a healthier, longer life.