Published: 06:00, 29 January 2020
| Updated: 07:45, 29 January 2020
Conflicting advice about healthy eating means many of us are as confused as we've ever been about what's the best way to feed ourselves and our families, which could explain a surge in the popularity of unusual diets spreading online.
But with some of the latest dietary trends branded "extreme" we rounded up some Kent-based experts give their views on seven that have been trending on social media.
GP warns of 'drastic dieting' on KMTV
The Paleo diet, also known as the Caveman diet, focuses on eating food that humans survived on around 40,000 years ago.
The theory is our bodies aren't evolutionary designed to cope with the large amount of sugar and processed food we now eat and therefore followers seek to replicate a diet similar to that of our ancestors.
This essentially means living off lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, and nuts and seeds, replicating what would have been obtained in times of hunting and gathering.
The diet, which also restricts people to drinking water, has benefits such as weight loss, better appetite management, and aiding the control of blood pressure.
The Keto diet involves consuming high amounts of fat and reducing carbohydrates to as low as 25g per day.
This means eliminating traditional favourites such as bread, pasta, and potatoes, in favour of fatty cuts of meat and oily fish, and foregoing chocolate and cakes in favour of nuts and seeds.
Fruit - apart from berries - is also generally off the menu, although followers are can add copious amounts of butter, cream, and olive oil to liven up their meals.
Reported benefits include helping to reverse type 2 diabetes, assisting those undergoing cancer treatment and battling obesity, treating epilepsy in children, and preventing Alzheimer's.
The Carnivore diet, followed in its purest form, involves essentially eating nothing but meat and drinking only water.
This means even staying away sauces - although you can get away with using salt and pepper!
It is zero carbohydrate and the aim is to eliminate nutrients your body may not be able to process optimally. Supporters have reported losing weight, reduced digestive problems, and an end to food cravings.
Followers of the diet also report an increase in focus and mental clarity.
The rise in popularity of vegetarianism has also led to the spin-off Flexitarian diet, for those who mainly eat plant-based foods, but don't want to give up meat completely.
It generally includes large amounts of such as lentils, beans, nuts, and seeds, and is said to be not only healthy but is a way for followers to reduce their carbon footprint by cutting meat consumption.
They do this by eating the least processed, most natural form of foods, which is said to aid weight loss and reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes.
A devoted following has also grown around the Pescatarian diet, where people abstain from eating meat, but are allowed to consume fish.
It is traditionally followed by people concerned about animal welfare, who feel it is more suitable based on the premise fish don't feel pain, and that eating livestock contributes to global warming.
By default, they generally consume large amounts of vegetables and other plant-based foods, and the diet is said to reduce a person's risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases, along with some types of cancer.
Instead of focusing on calories or nutrients, the Chinese medicine diet places importance on the energetic properties of food to help keep the body "neutral".
To do this food is divided into five natures - cold, cool, neutral, warm, and hot - and the impact of how each will affect a person's body is considered.
A large emphasis is placed on eating according to the seasons, as our bodies are said to be influenced by changes in the climate and followers aim to consume fresh food that is free from chemicals, preservatives, and over-processing.
They believe there is an intrinsic link between what we eat and our health and learning how their body may be "out of balance" and taking steps to change this can have a profound impact on their health.
The Dukan diet is high-protein, low carbohydrate and low-fat plan that is primarily aimed at weight loss and has four phases - attack, cruise, consolidation, and stabilisation.
The first two to 10 days typically involve eating only protein such as fish, poultry, lean beef, and egg whites.
That is followed by the cruise phase of consuming protein and non-starchy vegetables daily until the person's weight loss target is achieved.
Consolidation involves slowly adding in previously banned foods such as fruit, cheese, and bread.
Finally, in the stabilisation phase followers can eat anything they want for six days out of seven and only protein on the other.
It is said to lead to rapid weight loss without the feeling of constant hunger.
But as people try to stick to their New Year's resolutions, England's most senior doctor has warned against trying quick-fix diets and high street remedies that are "too good to be true".
NHS medical director, professor Stephen Powis, urged people to avoid turning to fads including diet pills, 'tea-toxes' and appetite suppressant products, which are at best ineffective and sometimes can be harmful.
Products claiming to help people lose weight quickly while reducing appetite and fatigue can have damaging side effects including diarrhoea, heart problems, and lead to unplanned pregnancies by interfering with oral contraception.
Prof Powis said: "Making New Year goals and shifting a few excess pounds after Christmas can be a good idea but is much easier to maintain when done gradually and safely.
"Alongside cutting-edge treatments and improved access to care, the NHS Long Term Plan is helping people to stay in control of their own health, including the revolutionary Diabetes Prevention Programme which helps people to lose weight safely, while NHS.uk has helpful tips, including a 12-week weight loss plan, alongside recommended apps to help boost fitness."
More by this authorGeoffrey Bew