Interest in the plant-based diet has increased significantly in recent years, thanks to the uproar caused by recent events such as avian flu, the so-called ” mad cow, “the relationship between red meat and cancer, or repeated episodes of maltreatment of animals in intensive farming. In this article, we will give a complete guide about what is a plant-based diet?
Many people adhere to this dietary model driven by ideological considerations, others only because they consider it a particularly effective and healthy diet. The plant-based diet has very ancient roots. As we have said, the reasons that push a person to adopt it can be numerous (religious, ethical, economic, ecological, health-conscious, etc.).
In this article, we will focus above all on the health aspect, analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of vegetarian diets, and proposing some examples of a correctly balanced plant-based vegetarian menu.
Let’s start by specifying the various types of a plant-based diet.
Types of a plant-based diet
How many types of vegetarian diets are there?
In the common imagination, the plant-based vegetarian diet is often understood as a simple diet without animal origin products. In reality, the concept is much broader, given that different food models can be included in the large family of vegetarianism; let’s see them in detail.
Lacto-Ovo plant-based diet
The lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet allows you to feed on plants, microorganisms ( molds and bacteria ). Foods derived from animals, such as eggs, milk, cheeses, and honey. Instead, it excludes the consumption of meat and fishery products ( including mollusks and crustaceans ). Many dairy companies have adapted to plant-based needs by replacing the rennet of animal origin with a vegetable one.
The Lacto-plant-based diet also excludes eggs, but milk and derivatives are allowed; honey consumption is at the discretion.
The ovo-vegetarian diet also excludes milk and derivatives but not eggs; honey consumption is at the discretion.
The vegan diet forgoes all products that involve animal involvement, including eggs and derivatives, such as dairy products and honey. It represents the plant-based diet “in the strict sense.”
Remember that the vegan philosophy does not allow any animal involvement for the benefit of the human being. This excludes even the use of wool and silk for clothes, drugs obtained through animal testing. Some of the fertilizers used in agriculture (especially flour of blood, the bones and horns, and fish).
Manure’s use is controversial since its suitability depends on its origin (that deriving from farms is to be excluded). Just as some vegans do not allow biological control in cultivation (based on some organisms’ biological antagonism, on traps entomological, etc.).
What is a plant-based diet Types
Raw food diet
It is a vegan diet based only on consuming raw fruit and vegetables or processed at temperatures no higher than 40 ° C.
It is a vegan diet that only allows the consumption of fruits: fleshy ( apple, pear, orange, pepper, tomato, aubergine, courgette, melon, watermelon, pumpkin, etc.), oilseeds ( walnuts, hazelnuts, pine nuts, pistachios, almonds, etc. ) and sprouted seeds (alpha, soy, carrot, barley, peanut, etc.).
It is a vegan diet similar to the traditional ones, but it requires the consumption of only plant foods from organic or bio-dynamic crops.
According to its supporters, the plant-based diet (in all its type cable) alone and without supplement meets all nutrients’ recommendations. As we will see below, this is at least a questionable claim. It can certainly have a positive metabolic impact and, in some ways, favhealththe maintenance. Let’s see how.
Eat healthy with plant foods.
Getting used to basing your diet mainly or exclusively on plant foods is an effective and pleasant way to stay healthy. A balanced vegetarian plant-based diet is achievable simply by eating a wide variety of plant-based, healthy and tasty foods. All vegetarians, by definition, do not eat meat, fish, and poultry. Simultaneously, those vegetarians who exclude these indirect animal products from their diet are properly defined as vegans or total vegetarians. A lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet is beneficial to health. But the vegan diet is the healthiest as it has been shown to reduce the risk of many common chronic diseases.
Vegetarians have much lower blood cholesterol levels than carnivores. Cardiovascular disease is less common among vegetarians. The reasons are not difficult to understand: plant foods are typically low in saturated fats and totally free of cholesterol, which are the dietary factors responsible for increasing blood cholesterol levels. Vegans, in particular, follow a virtually cholesterol-free diet. The type of protein provided by a vegetarian diet is another important health benefit. In fact, it has been shown that the replacement of animal proteins with vegetable proteins can reduce cholesterol levels in the blood. A low-fat, plant-based diet has documented health benefits over other types of diets.
The reduction of blood pressure values
An impressive number of studies, starting in the 1920s, show that vegetarians have lower blood pressure levels than non-vegetarians. The effects of this type of diet are independent and are added to those of reducing the sodium content of the diet. When hypertensive patients adopt a vegetarian plant-based diet, they can often reduce or abandon antihypertensive medications.
Control of diabetes
The most recent diabetes studies show that a diet high in complex carbohydrates (found only in plant foods) and low in fat is the best therapeutic measure to control diabetes. Given that people with diabetes have a high risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The elimination of fat and cholesterol from the diet is the main goal of diabetes diet therapy, and for this reason, the vegetarian plant-based diet is ideal. However, all type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetics are dependent on insulin intake. Plant-based diets may also allow these patients to reduce their insulin requirements.
Plant-based diets can help prevent many types of cancer. Studies conducted on vegetarian populations show that cancer death rates are approximately one-half to three-quarters of the general population. Breast cancer has a dramatically reduced incidence in those countries where diets are typically based on plant foods. When subjects belonging to these populations adopt a Western diet based on animal foods, the incidence of breast cancer skyrockets. Vegetarians also have a lower incidence of colon cancer than carnivores. So why do vegetarian plant-based diets help us defend ourselves against cancer?
Some aspects of cancer protection related to vegetarian diets have not yet been fully clarified. For example, why vegetarians have more white series cells, called “natural killers,” has not yet been fully understood.
What is a plant-based diet: blood pressure values
The football issue
Vegetarians are at reduced risk of kidney and gallbladder stone formation. Furthermore, vegetarians are also at reduced risk of osteoporosis since they eat little or no animal protein. In fact, the high intakes of animal proteins, which acidify the body, promo calcium the loan from the bone. Replacing animal foods with plant foods can reduce the extent of calcium losses in the urine. This would explain why individuals residing in countries where the diet is typically based on plant foods show low rates of osteoporosis, even in the presence of low calcium intakes.
Organize a vegetarian diet
It is easy to organize a vegetarian diet that satisfies the needs of various nutrients without problems. Cereals, legumes, and vegetables are rich in protein and iron. Green leafy vegetables, legumes, dried fruit, and dried fruit (figs, sultanas, apricots, etc.) are excellent calc sourcesium. The body normally produces vitamin Day by the action of sunlight on the skin. Those who regularly expose themselves to the sun do not need to get this vitamin from food. Dark-skinned people and those living in northern latitudes have a harder time producing vitamin D throughout the year. In these cases, it is advisable to take vitamin D starting from food with added ingredients. Some good sources are breakfast cereals and soy and rice milk, while taking supplements should be agreed with a doctor. An alternative source of sunlight, effective for the production of vitamin D, is UVA lamps.
Such as for breakfast cereals and soy products. However, vitamin B12 deficiency is not common. The term “cyanocobalamin,” which is the form of vitamin B12 used by humans, should be sought on the labels.
The benefits of a plant-based diet
In 2020, a very well-conducted study was published, with nearly 50,000 participants, who were followed over the course of their lives for about 18 years. Researchers found an increase in hemorrhagic strokes among vegetarians, including vegans, while increasing heart attacks among those who habitually consumed meat . So does the vegetarian diet increase the risk of stroke? And that omnivorous heart attack? Doing four calculations, strokes in vegetarians would be equivalent to 3 more cases per 1,000 population in about 10 years.
We can, therefore, argue quite firmly that eliminating meat as an adult is a viable option for reducing cardiovascular events, diabetes, obesity, some cancers, and kidney disease . It has also been determined that adopting a completely plant-based diet for a short period of time, especially for overweight or obese individuals, is beneficial for bodyweight loss and bad cholesterol .
The only good idea in everyday life is to turn to professionals before falling back on do-it-yourself solutions. This practice of self-styled diets does not necessarily result in healthy weight loss. Note that the number on the scale decreases not only indicates fat loss, which is the desirable drop. But it could result from a loss of muscle mass or water just as the increase does not indicate with certainty an accumulation of fat, but, perhaps, a muscle growth. Only with the right tools and the correct interpretation of the results can we understand if we are doing well. And who can do it? Only an expert.
Returning to us, an eye on the deficiencies: vegans, more than vegetarians, must make up for the lack of animal proteins by taking vegetable foods that are equally protein. Furthermore, the integration of vitamin B12 present only in animal foods or animal origin is essential; there are often iron deficiencies, with consequent iron deficiency anemia. Mainly among women in menopause, and calcium, with osteoporotic fractures [4 ].
If, on the one hand, “veg” subjects must draw on industrial synthesis supplements, especially for vitamin B12, on the other hand, it is thanks to the integration that they can be sure to cover the daily needs. Not all omnivores can be sure of respecting vitamin requirements. Often, in fact, in overnourished subjects, there are important vitamin deficiencies. This doesn’t mean we all have to rush to buy supplements. Beyond the fact that a deficiency must be detected before running for cover, in case of the organism’s proper functioning, a balanced diet is sufficient to provide all the nutrients, including minerals and vitamins, that one needs.
The Mediterranean model
Observing now the situation with the omnivore spirit, a well-balanced diet, excluding food, involves meat consumption—mainly white, which has less saturated fat than red. Sausage consumption one, maximum twice a month. Greenlight to fish and legumes.
Obviously, the estimate is not absolute either for the positive or negative effects nor for those who consume only plant products or those who also consume animal food. The smartest solution would be to adopt some good habits, such as drinking little alcohol, not smoking, and exercising.
Vegetable diet for the little ones
And for children, is the plant-based diet safe? This question arises spontaneously, considering that the plant lifestyle, i.e., frequent among young people, young adults, and adults. For the little ones, experts discourage the adoption of a vegan diet. Leads to a lower incidence of overweight and childhood obesity [ 5].
It should be borne in mind that qualitative-quantitative nutrition affects in-home puppies’ cognitive and motor development, not just weight and height. And among children, deficiencies are more frequent than in adults, even more so if they follow a purely vegetable diet. The main concerns are protein deficiency, long-chain fatty acids, and derivatives of essential fatty acids, vitamin D, calcium, iodine, iron, zinc, NC, and the aforementioned B12. However, minerals are widely present in fruits and vegetables. The lack of the nutrients mentioned above can be harmful to the child’s correct development, even at a neurological level; therefore, these deficits must be filled with an integrated and as varied diet as possible, supervised by pediatricians and, possibly, specialized professionals  .
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I would like that. The variety of food choices is essential even in omnivorous diets: it is good practice to accustom children to as many foods as possible to notto incur in fossilization on specific foods by arbitrarily excluding others. If you get used from an early age to taste a wide variety of vegetables, whether they are vegetables or legumes, foods that are difficult for the little ones, limiting sugars, added salt, and saturated fats, it will hardly change course grown up.
Nutritionally speaking, both diets are shareable, beyond the moral aspects. However, it is always necessary to use your head. If for vegetarians/vega, ns it is essential to fill some gaps, it is beneficial for meat-eaters l not excel in animal proteins or preserved meats, also consuming vegetable proteins such as legumes.
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