The Truth About Diets: Scientific Research and Expert Opinions

2024-02-12 15:33:58

Do these practices help us improve our health, lose weight, lower blood sugar levels or get back in shape? What does scientific research tell us about all these diets? Some answers with our experts. A show in partnership with the Doctissimo site.

Small reminder: for any health problem, the attending physician is really the first point of contact. For questions of weight or diet, there are professionals: diabetologist, endocrinologist, hepatitis doctor, gastroenterologist and dietitian nutritionists who are also health professionals.

A widespread phenomenon

The epidemiology researcher at CRESS-EREN (INRAE, Inserm, Université Sorbonne Paris Nord, Université Paris Cité), and coordinator of the NACRe Network (Nutrition Physical Activity Cancer Research) Bernard Srour noted that “The practice of fasting is quite common. One in ten patients say they have used this type of practice, and two thirds of these patients expect to benefit. But patients, for example suffering from cancer, throw themselves headlong into this type of dietary restriction, sometimes abandoning their treatment. While research shows that these practices in cases of oncological disease have no benefit, and they can even be very dangerous and increase the risk of mortality from malnutrition or other causes.”

Why do people adhere to miracle cures?

How can we explain the success of these practices and the self-proclaimed gurus of detox, intermittent fasting, ketogenic diets (slimming diet which is based on the almost complete elimination of sugars and starches (carbohydrates) from the diet and the increased consumption of raw materials? fats (lipids)) and other practices? For Doctor Adrian Chaboche, it’s because “it sells dreams, and gives the idea that it would be easy to lose weight. We take advantage of people who are suffering. These people are looking for someone to listen to them. Those who frequent these gurus will look for someone who can welcome them and give them general truths. There is a very important psychological factor behind all this. People want to be reassured, but we can be reassured by telling crazy stories!”

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Are these fasts useful?

Would these cures or diets be absolutely not useful? Marie-Christine Boutron-Ruault, first-class research director at Inserm, internist and hepato-gastroenterologist at the Institut Mutualiste Montsouris in Paris distinguishes the patients: A person who overindulged at Christmas and rebalances their meals by eating foods that are easier to digest, such as fruit, can detoxify fairly quickly. Our body is something magnificent which has the capacity to detoxify a certain number of exogenous products from contaminants, for example from the atmosphere or food contaminants, or endogenous products, for example from eggs, pieces of bacteria , etc. But a person who is undergoing bariatric surgery cannot get by with intermittent fasting.”

A mono-diet cure?

What about eating only apples for two or three days, or drinking lemon or artichoke juice? Marie-Christine Boutron-Ruault explains that “If it lasts two or three days, the body is able to handle a lot. But if we do it out of guilt, because we have overindulged and we buy ourselves a good conscience by doing something extreme to the contrary, we will generate a form of stress that is bad for the body. . And severe restrictions are not recommended for patients who have had weight problems. This will lead to the yo-yo effect: they will lose and then gain a little more.”

Adrian Chaboche n’a pas “fear of detox cures from the moment they are “common” products like lemon juice. But by focusing on this type of technique, we put aside what is really necessary and really useful to the body: a long-term life balance. So if you want to do a detox cure to take care of yourself at certain times, why not… But it shouldn’t replace what’s essential.”

Rely on the microbiota to find balance

Marie-Christine Boutron-Ruault advises relying on the microbiota: “The intestinal microbiota, this symbiont of billions of bacteria, wants us well. It has been shown that when the liver is fatty, and even inflammatory, apple pectin will improve the microbiota and liver function. We will never be reminded: a diet rich enough in fruits, vegetables, legumes, almonds, hazelnuts and whole grains is the key.”

Strongly limit alcohol and ultra-processed products

Adrian Chaboche: “Alcohol is for pleasurenot for health. And it’s a maximum of two glasses per day and not every day. “. And Marie-Christine Boutron-Ruault adds: “We can also stop ultra-processed industrial foods in which components will unnecessarily overload our body, but which, in reality, do not provide us with anything nutritionally and instead favor a diet based on good quality plants. Dietary rebalancing must be done with common sense, and quality food. It is in our interest to stick to the adage: “Breakfast for kings, lunch for princes, dinner for beggars.” “It is better that the intake is greater at the start of the day than at the end of the day.”

The rest on diet and cancer, on the effects of intermittent fasting is worth listening to….

With :

  • Boris Hansel, endocrinologist and nutritionist at Bichat hospital (AP-HP, Paris) where he heads the Nutrition-Prevention unit. He teaches medicine at Paris Cité University. He coordinates the YouTube channel PuMS (For better health) and also broadcasts videos on nutrition themes on the Dr BH channel.
    Author of No fat or sugarco-written with Benoît Molin, Flammarion 2018.
  • Dr Bernard Srour, researcher in epidemiology at CRESS-EREN (INRAE, Inserm, Université Sorbonne Paris Nord, Université Paris Cité), and coordinator of the NACRe Network (Nutrition Physical Activity Cancer Research).
  • Marie-Christine Boutron-Ruault, first-class research director at Inserm, internist and hepato-gastroenterologist at the Institut Mutualiste Montsouris in Paris.
  • Gerald Kierzek, emergency doctor and medical columnist (notably on France 5 in the health magazine). Since this summer he has been writing a column on France Bleu. Author of Deyrolle: Anatomy Lessons at Albin Michel – 2023
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