Showing where the British people have priorities, Michael Wolff’s book on Donald Trump has only reach #2 on the bestsellers in UK (made it to #1 on NYT). It has been pipped to the post by a diet/recipe book ?! by Tom Kerridge.
Kerridge seems to generally advocate a lower carb, lower calorie but still tasty set of foods and recipes.
I’ve been writing a long post on diets and touch upon the diets of some of the long-lived humans of the world in this post on longevity. (Lots of vegetables, don’t over eat, avoid processed foods – so not too different from Kerridge).
I wanted to contrast low carb, super low carb, ketogenic, Mediterranean type diets and point out that much of the data and science was confounded. But after I started writing about it, I realized this meta-study review by Katz and Meller (2014) did a more thorough and expert job – so I put the abstract and link here:
"Diet is established among the most important influences on health in modern societies. Injudicious diet figures among the leading causes of premature death and chronic disease. Optimal eating is associated with increased life expectancy, dramatic reduction in lifetime risk of all chronic disease, and amelioration of gene expression. In this context, claims abound for the competitive merits of various diets relative to one another. Whereas such claims, particularly when attached to commercial interests, emphasize distinctions, the fundamentals of virtually all eating patterns associated with meaningful evidence of health benefit overlap substantially. There have been no rigorous, long-term studies comparing contenders for best diet laurels using methodology that precludes bias and confounding, and for many reasons such studies are unlikely. In the absence of such direct comparisons, claims for the established superiority of any one specific diet over others are exaggerated. The weight of evidence strongly supports a theme of healthful eating while allowing for variations on that theme. A diet of minimally processed foods close to nature, predominantly plants, is decisively associated with health promotion and disease prevention and is consistent with the salient components of seemingly distinct dietary approaches. Efforts to improve public health through diet are forestalled not for want of knowledge about the optimal feeding of Homo sapiens but for distractions associated with exaggerated claims, and our failure to convert what we reliably know into what we routinely do. Knowledge in this case is not, as of yet, power; would that it were so."
One aspect – mentioned in the review but not in detail - I would point out is that many people can not sustain a keto diet long term, and that unsustainable diets are problematic. Also that part of why keto diets might work for some is that fats have high satiety effects, such that some people on super low carb or keto diets are also on calorie restricted diets at the same time.
Further as a technical point we thought keto diets might have brain effects due to ketones, but it might be due to fatty acid chains instead. There are limited long term studies on keto (though some data from epileptics). As a separate point, there are limited studies on fasting too, or intermittent fasting which have interesting short term data but long-term might be hard. Those looking for more esoteric case studies then Tim Ferris has some interesting thoughts, while not as rigorously tested, he has tested extensively on himself (though at its core his diet is slow-carb mostly, he goes through a lot of other systems which might suit you).
Those interested can look at a few more links below.
In sum, avoid too many processed foods, don’t over-eat (nudge yourself behavioural to achieve this eg fill a plate up 80% and put extra food out of sight) and eat lots of vegetables.
The science on epigenetics and microbiome are also advancing, and I’d be interested to see how that continues to develop.
Studies on keto and low-carb:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29290352 a meta-review suggesting “There is convincing evidence of beneficial effects of controlled trials implementing high-fat, low-carbohydrate diets in both sedentary and obese individuals”, but also advocating longer trial durations needed.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29269890 (2017) another meta review looking at low-carb for diabetes it concludes low carb may be effective but also shows that there’s limited standardization on what low carb means – it also highlights the super low carb (<50g/day) is not realistic, but the low-card (<130g/day) might be OK for compliance. Looking at 18 studies, 15 were considered at high risk of bias.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29263011 a debate on keto, on what the mechanism of action might be in neuro disorders. Traditionally it was thought to be the ketone effect, but some now think it might be a medium-chain fatty acid effect.
Studies on Mediterranean diet:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4179172/ meta-stduy suggesting lower cardio-diabetic risk
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21947643 Athens study on med diet, suggesting benefit on metabolic syndrome
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29259973 An overview, with some thoughts on epigenetics and microbiome
Studies on intermittent fasting
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29199853 a review suggesting good evidence in animals, but limited human research, some small trials suggesting benefit but nothing longer-term or gold standard.
This https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26135345 meta- review similar “
Intermittent fasting, alternate-day fasting, and other forms of periodic caloric desistance are gaining popularity in the lay press and among animal research scientists. Whether clinical evidence exists for or is strong enough to support the use of such dietary regimens as health interventions is unclear.” And “Clinical research studies of fasting with robust designs and high levels of clinical evidence are sparse in the literature. Whereas the few randomized controlled trials and observational clinical outcomes studies support the existence of a health benefit from fasting, substantial further research in humans is needed before the use of fasting as a health intervention can be recommended.” Could only look at 3 small trials.
If you'd like to feel inspired by commencement addresses and life lessons try: Neil Gaiman on making wonderful, fabulous, brilliant mistakes; or Nassim Taleb's commencement address; or JK Rowling on the benefits of failure. Or Charlie Munger on always inverting; Sheryl Sandberg on grief, resilience and gratitude or investor Ray Dalio on on Principles.