Following a strict diet can be challenging, so our eating patterns can fluctuate wildly. A new study looks at how these changes could affect cardiovascular health. As we move into 2019, many people will try new diet regimens. For many of us, following a Mediterranean-style diet full of nuts, no burgers, and lots of fish will last only a matter of days before returning to the realms of cheese and cheese boards.
While eating long-term reduces the risk of cardiovascular problems, we know much less about how a fluctuating diet affects our heart health. Because many people choose a diet and then gradually move away from it, researchers are interested in how the yo-yo diet might influence markers of cardiovascular disease.
A team led by Prof. Wayne Campbell of Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN, set out to investigate. The scientists recently published their findings in the journal Nutrients.
Periodically alter eating patterns
To investigate, the scientists inspected data from two previous studies on dietary interventions conducted by the same group of researchers at Purdue University. Participants in these studies followed one of two eating patterns: a Mediterranean diet or a Diet Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet.
Study lead author Lauren O’Connor explains these two eating patterns, saying, “Our DASH-style eating pattern focused on controlling sodium intake, while our Mediterranean-style focused on increasing healthy fats. Both eating patterns were rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
The participants followed their eating pattern for 5 to 6 weeks. After this period, the scientists assessed their cardiovascular risk by measuring a range of parameters. These include blood pressure and the levels of fat, glucose, and insulin in the blood.
After 5 to 6 weeks of dieting, the participants returned to their standard eating patterns for another 4 weeks. Then, after another cardiovascular evaluation, the DASH or Mediterranean diet plans were restarted for an additional 5-6 weeks. Finally, they had one more check-up at the end of this period.
A cardiometabolic ‘roller coaster’
The analysis showed that, as expected, cardiovascular markers improved when the individual stayed on the diet. Then, once they returned to a less healthy eating regimen, the biomarkers became less favorable again. Then once the healthy diets were restarted, the metabolic markers once again improved.
The key message is that just a few weeks of healthy eating can make measurable improvements in cardiovascular health markers, but at the same time, it doesn’t take long before they revert to their unhealthy state once a person finishes their diet. healthy.
“These findings should encourage people to try again if they fail their first attempt to adopt a healthy eating pattern,” says Professor Campbell. “It appears that your body will not become resistant to the health promoting effects of this diet pattern just because you tried it and it was not successful the first time.”
More research will be needed to explore whether yo-yo diets have a long-term health impact. Some studies have shown that losing and gaining weight again in a cycle, or the weight cycle, could put stress on the cardiovascular system. However, the evidence is certainly not overwhelming, and some scientists question whether cycling has any adverse effects.
Overall, the results are bittersweet; show that just a few weeks of dietary change can produce measurable improvements in health markers. On the other hand, after a few weeks after abandoning a new diet, those benefits are lost.
However, if a person restarts their healthy eating plan, the benefits can be recovered in the same amount of time. As such, Professor Campbell’s message is one of stubborn persistence: “The best option is to keep the healthy pattern, but if you make a mistake, try again.”