One of the most obvious problems of deficiency in the diet was in the fat group. Fat intake was less than 40 percent overall and significantly less for some specific fats. While it is recommended to monitor our fat intake, the diet that was analyzed was far too low for good health. In addition, this was in conjunction with a high carbohydrate intake that exceeded 100 percent on all 3 days. According to Teresa Gallagher (n.d.), "A diet high in complex carbohydrates and low in fat can lead to chronic hypoglycemia, and a person can develop "insulin resistance" where insulin no longer seems to work as well as it used to, and finally diabetes, in which the pancreas ceases to release insulin at all". While we may revere low fat foods and avoid many of them, taking it to extremes, such as in this diet, can lead to long term chronic health problems which may not be reversible.
Another, and more subtle problem, in the diet was the low ratio of potassium to sodium, known as the K factor. The ratio was less than .70 on all 3 days, well below the recommended level. According to Dr. Richard Moore, professor emeritus at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh, a level of less than 1 or 2 produces hypertension and metabolic changes that result in "more than 10 diseases, including osteoporosis, asthma, kidney disease, kidney stones, mental decline, stomach cancer, ulcers and others" (Passwater, 2001). In addition, Chang et al. (2006) reported that increasing the K factor, "reduced cardiovascular mortality, improved longevity, and cut down medical expenditures for CVD-related inpatient care in a group of elderly men in northern Taiwan" (p.1295). Adding potassium to this diet could avert these serious health issues.
The diet was also consistently low in fiber. Eastwood and Kretchevsky (2005) report that, "The principle actions of fiber are to alter the nature of the contents of the gastrointestinal tract and to modify the absorption of other nutrients and chemicals" (p.6). Without an adequate supply of daily fiber, the nutrition that we do intake may not be useable to its greatest benefit.
While there were some significant shortcomings in the diet, it also has some strong points. It was generally consistently high in the area of B vitamins. This is important in that the B vitamins are water soluble and are excreted from the body quickly (Obikoya, 2006). Obikoya (2006) further reports that, "Vitamins B6 and B12 are extremely helpful at protecting the heart and nerves" and the B vitamin family "are important for the proper formation of every cell in your body, particularly nerve cells". Maintaining the B vitamin levels, such as in this diet is essential to good health.
Another strength of this diet is the proper intake of protein. While the levels may be slightly high in proportion to the calorie intake, they were within an acceptable range for a healthy, active person. Adequate protein contributes to muscle mass and the formation of tissue. This helps to stave off injury, strengthens the body, and gives us physical endurance. A recent study at Vanderbilt University reported that protein enhances the immune system and prevents infections (Immune system protein, 2008). Protein greatly enhances our ability to remain healthy.
Another significant strength in the diet was the noticeable absence of alcohol. The benefits of a low alcohol intake are in the health risks it carries when consumed. It can cause