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Diet Therapy


Denise Millstine

, MD, Mayo Clinic

Last full review/revision Feb 2019| Content last modified Feb 2019
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  • Treat or prevent a specific disease (such as cancer or cardiovascular disorders)

  • Generally promote wellness

  • Detoxify the body (by neutralizing or eliminating toxins from the body)

Some diets (such as the Mediterranean diet) are widely accepted and encouraged in traditional Western medicine.

When beginning a therapeutic diet that involves a dramatically different way of eating, people should ask an expert to advise them so that they can avoid nutritional deficiencies. Dietary science and understanding is constantly evolving and should be revisited frequently with a healthcare or nutrition professional.

Macrobiotic diet

The macrobiotic diet consists of largely vegetables, whole grains, fruits, and cereals. Some people following a macrobiotic diet have reported improvements in cancer and its symptoms, but well-designed studies have not shown this.

Risks of a macrobiotic diet include unintended weight loss and sometimes inadequate intake of certain nutrients.

Paleo diet

The Paleo diet consists of types of food allegedly consumed in the distant past during the Paleolithic (Stone Age) era, when food was hunted or gathered. That is, it consists of foods made from animals and wild plants. Thus, the diet results in the following:

Foods thought not to be available during the Paleolithic era (such as dairy products, grains, legumes, processed oils, refined sugar, salt, and coffee) are avoided. Proponents claim that people cannot process (metabolize) many of these foods. However, knowledge of what was eaten in the Paleolithic era is limited, and some evidence suggests that in the Paleolithic era, the diet was not as limited as the modern Paleo diet.

Proponents of the Paleo diet claim that it reduces the risk of coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes, and many chronic conditions. They also claim it promotes weight loss, improves athletic performance, enhances sleep, and improves mental function. However, evidence that this diet has any of these effects remains inconsistent.

Risks of the Paleo diet include inadequate intake of certain nutrients (due to decreased consumption of whole grains and dairy products) and possibly an increased risk of coronary artery disease (due to increased consumption of fat and protein).

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Ayurveda is the traditional medical system of India. Its practices are distinctly different from those used in Western medicine. Which of the following is NOT typically used in Ayurvedic treatment? 
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