Consider this before starting a plant-based diet:
Are you vegan, vegetarian, or maybe pescatarian? Do you prefer raw foodism? So many different labels! These are all types of plant-based diets, made trendy recently – you’ve probably heard of or tried one of these varieties. Many people opt for a plant-based diet to look good, others for environmental conviction, but most do it for their health, to increase protection against chronic diseases and to lose weight. (1)
The truth is that plant-based diets have many health advantages. However, there are details you need to think about, especially if you plan to follow a rigid eating style like vegan or raw. There are certain things to consider to become truly healthy.
Get informed before taking the plunge:
With plant-based diets, there are a few subtleties that make a big difference. (2)
- Vegetarians eliminate animal meat, but still include eggs and dairy in their diet.
- Pescatarians eliminate most meat, focusing on natural food sources like vegetables, fruits, cereals, legumes, nuts, eggs, and dairy, in addition to fish.
- Vegans, however, eliminate ALL foods of animal origin, including eggs, dairy, and even honey. Highly processed foods are also cut out.
- Raw foodists operate the same, consuming only raw foods. This is defined as foods that have not been subjected to any process that involves being heated over 115º F.
Although there is a high consumption of nutrients and antioxidants with plant-based diets, there is also a significant lack of others, those obtained only from animals and animal byproducts. Supplementing these nutrients is essential to remaining healthy.
Beware of nutritional deficiencies:
Balance the intake of vitamin B12, zinc, calcium, and omega 3. (3)
These vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids come from animal sources, such as eggs, dairy, fatty fish, and seafood. It’s imperative to have alternatives you can consume that contain these nutrients (3). A popular source of B12 for vegans is nutritional yeast, which tastes like cheese and is very versatile in cooking. However, B complex supplementation is still highly recommended.
The same goes for calcium. You can get some from foods like chickpeas, spinach, seeds, and nuts, but supplementation is still usually necessary. (2)
Omega-3 fatty acids can be moderately obtained from seeds including chia, flax, and hemp, as well as quinoa and walnuts. It is worth visiting your doctor to see if a supplement is a good option for you, since absorbing the required amounts of omega-3 from vegan options is difficult.
Ensure muscle mass maintenance by consuming protein. Animal protein, especially whey or egg protein, is the easiest absorbed. Vegan diets tend to decrease the amount of protein obtained, so opt for good plant-based sources of protein such as peas, lentils, chickpeas, nuts, and seeds. Another good alternative would be a quality, plant-based protein supplement.
It's also a good idea to add a multivitamin to supplement iron and other minerals that may be too low on a plant-based diet.
Balance is the key
Being vegan doesn't necessarily mean being healthy. If you continue to consume processed foods high in carbohydrates and refined oils, you will not achieve your weight loss goal. For success, you need to focus on a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes, ensuring to receive the right amount of nutrients. Doing a plant-based diet right can help:
- Your body renews itself, helping you feel better than ever.
- You lose weight.
- Improve your digestion and intestinal microbiota.
- You achieve greater protection against oxidative damage.
- Decrease inflammation within the body. (4)
Whole, fresh, and natural
Don't rely on the word ‘vegan’ when shopping at the supermarket. Many processed products labelled vegan contain a lot of preservatives, sugars, trans fats, artificial flavorings, and other negative additives. Eliminate processed foods and focus on fresh.
Include sprouted grains and legumes to increase your chances of proper nutrient absorption.
Our Entalla Plant-Based Plan is an excellent starting point, with healthy choices that include nutrient-rich food choices and supplement products. As always, consult your doctor first before starting any type of diet, especially if you have low energy, hair loss, or other fatigue/weakness.
Going green in all its forms, whether partial or 100%, is always a positive step for both the planet and our bodies. Just make sure to do it responsibly and continue moving towards a better quality of life.
Let's be healthier together.
Your Santo Remedio Team
1.Monica Dinu, Rosanna Abbate, Gian Franco Gensini, Alessandro Casini, Francesco Sofi. Vegetarian, vegan diets and multiple health outcomes: A systematic review with meta-analysis of observational studies. Review it Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2017 Nov 22;57(17):3640-3649. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2016.1138447.
2.Philip J Tuso, MD, Mohamed H Ismail, MD, Benjamin P Ha, MD, Carole Bartolotto, MA, RD. Nutritional Update for Physicians: Plant-Based Diets. Perm J. 2013 Spring; 17(2): 61–66.
3.Winston J Craig. Health effects of vegan diets. Review Am J Clin Nutr
. 2009 May;89(5):1627S-1633S. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.26736N. Epub 2009 Mar 11.
4.Evelyn Medawar, Sebastian Huhn, Arno Villringer, A. Veronica Witte
The effects of plant-based diets on the body and the brain: a systematic review. Transl Psychiatry. 2019; 9: 226.
Published online 2019 Sep 12. doi: 10.1038/s41398-019-0552-0
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