Considering the ketogenic diet? Read and think again

Considering the ketogenic diet? Read and think again

You probably know someone on the “Keto” diet or are tempted by the claims that this special diet helped many people lose weight in just 10 days.

What is this magic diet that everyone talks about? Does it really work? Is it safe?

What is the ketogenic diet?

The keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat plan that promises quick weight loss.

In essence, it causes the body to release ketones into the bloodstream after the body is starved of its preferred energy source – glucose from carbohydrate. This metabolic process is known as ketosis.

Instead of consuming carbohydrates such as grains, this diet typically involves plenty of meat and dairy.

ketogenic diet bacon

This shift from using glucose to breaking down fat as a source of energy could happen after two to four days of consuming fewer than 20-50g of carbohydrates per day.

Roughly speaking, 70-80% of the calories on a keto diet come from fat, 20% from protein, and as little as 5% from carbs.

Because of the heavy restrictions, it is extremely difficult to stick to, as just one potato or slice of bread could exceed an entire day’s carbohydrate allowance.

But putting the practical difficulty aside, the potential dangers are what people should really be aware and concerned about.

Insulin resistance

Free fatty acids result in inflammation, toxic fat breakdown products, and oxidative stress, which are highly detrimental to the essential insulin receptor pathway.

What does it mean? Being on a long-term keto diet puts you at risk for insulin resistance.

ketogenic diet diabetes

See Dr. Micheal Gregor’s article “How a Low-Carb Diet is Metabolically Like Being Obese“.

You might know that insulin resistance is what causes type 2 diabetes, and the consequences of type 2 diabetes are debilitating. If you are not familiar with the topic, watch this video What Causes Insulin Resistance?

In short, as the level of fat rises in your blood, the body’s ability to clear sugar drops. Just hours after eating fatty foods, the amount of fat detected in the blood increases, and insulin sensitivity decreases.

Studies have shown that fat directly inhibits glucose transport and utilization in our muscles, preventing 85% of the glucose being cleared out of the bloodstream.

For someone who is already pre-diabetic or diabetic, the keto diet is extremely dangerous. 

Ketosis can trigger a dangerous condition called ketoacidosis. This is when the body stores up too many ketones, and the blood becomes too acidic, leading to damages to the liver, kidneys, and brain. Ketoacidosis can be fatal if left untreated.

This randomized control trial highlights the importance of wholegrain intake for overweight and type-2 diabetics.

The Keto flu

Many people report feeling sick and weak when switching to a keto diet, a phenomenon known as the “Keto flu“. It can involve nausea, stomachache, cramps, and constipation.

Worst of all, many keto dieters report bad breath, which comes from acetone, a product of ketone metabolism.

ketogenic diet bad breath

Diarrhea is also common on a keto diet, due to a lack of fiber when you remove whole-grain foods such as bread and pasta, as well as vegetables. It can also result from an intolerance to dairy or artificial sweeteners contained in processed foods.

Increased all-cause mortality

A systematic review and meta-analysis of low-carb diet studies reached the conclusion that low-carbohydrate diets are associated with a significantly higher risk of all-cause mortality.

But…surely the keto diet contains more proteins, and wouldn’t that be a good thing?

No. Animal proteins have also been linked to higher mortality.

A study examined the associations of animal and plant protein intake with risk of mortality. This is a huge study consisting of 85,013 women and 46,329 men, tracked over three decades.

The study concluded: “Higher animal protein intake was positively, whereas plant protein was inverse, associated with mortality, especially among individuals with at least one lifestyle risk factors. Substitution of plant protein for animal protein, especially from processed red meat, was associated with lower mortality, suggesting the importance of protein source.

The China Study is another one that revealed increased coronary artery disease mortality rates with animal protein and salt intake, whereas vegetables, plant protein, and legumes are linked with lower mortality rate.

Heart diseases

Low carb diets such as the ketogenic diet affect arteries directly. A review of the best studies on this topic found that low-carb diets impair arterial function, and effectively stiffen people’s arteries.

A new study also reports the same thing: “A dietary pattern characterized by high protein and fat, but low carbohydrate was associated with poorer peripheral small artery function”.

Shockingly, patients with heart diseases who were given a healthy vegetarian diet but later jumped ship to low-carb diets had significantly worsened heart condition, with 40-50% more artery clogging. In the same study, others who continued with the vegetarian diet instead showed a reversal of their heart disease – partially clogged arteries cleared up, with 20% less atherosclerotic plaque!

ketogenic diet heart disease

Read more here “Low Carb Diets Found to Feed Heart Disease“.

Muscle loss and weight regain

You’ll lose weight in the short term of converting to a keto diet, but most of it will be water and muscle loss. This is simply because fat is the last to go during weight loss, any short-term, rapid weight loss most likely has nothing to do with fat loss.

This also means that when you come off the ketogenic diet, you are likely to regain the original weight. And instead of regaining lean muscle, you’re likely to regain fat. The diet may cause lasting effects on your resting metabolic rate, and your long-term weight management.

ketogenic diet muscle loss

Poor athletic performance

More than skeletal muscles, the diet can potentially damage the heart, which is also a muscle. What’s more, high-fat intake unquestionably raises cholesterol levels, a known risk factor for heart diseases.

Because of the excessive acidic ketone production, the body is in a more acidic state, which is known to impair muscle performance and contributes to fatigue.

recent study in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness also reported worse performance of cyclists and runners just after four days on a ketogenic diet. This could be the combined result of an unhealthy acidic environment for muscles, heart and various other organs.

Conclusion

The ketogenic diet may give you rapid weight loss, but what you lose is mostly just water and muscle, which is neither healthy nor sustainable.

Long-term adoption of the ketogenic diet raises the risk for many diseases and mortality risk, doing more harm than good.

Other than health, the over-consumption of meat and dairy also means that this diet is the exact opposite of environmental sustainability.

We encourage you to eat a variety of plant-based foods, including plenty of carbohydrates!

vegan health

Want more information on the keto diet?

Keto Diet: Myths and Facts

9 Nutrition Studies Every Ketogenic Dieter NEEDS To Read

You’ll love these

Have you checked out our comprehensive Vegan Health & Nutrition Resources page? We have a bunch of support materials waiting for you including a dietitian guidebook, lifestyle checklists and assessments, and the best vegan websites we recommend, all for you for FREE.

 

About the author
healthy vegan palette writer Rainie

Rainie is a health, fitness and nutrition enthusiastic. She studied a bachelor of Biomedical Sciences degree to learn all about the human body and continued to pursue higher research training in a neuroscience laboratory to investigate how the brain develops. Rainie is now using the research skills she learned in the science degree to bring evidence-based nutrition practice to more health-conscious people.

 

Cheat Day Vegan Burgers in Brisbane (mouth-watering photos included)

As much as we encourage everyone to live a whole food plant-based lifestyle to the best of our ability, there might just be those days when you want to treat yourself to a vegan burger.

Or you might want to impress your vegan-curious friends that vegan burgers might actually taste better!

It’s great to see more places adopting vegan options on their menus, and more good news – the vegan options are slowly getting upgraded to plant-based!

Let’s take a look at 5 vegan burger places we went to in Brisbane and Bryon bay!

Brewski

On Brewski’s menu, you will find the “Burgers for the plant-based” section with 5 amazing burgers:

  • BEEFLESS BURGER
  • VEGAN CHEESEBURGER
  • PULLED JACKFRUIT BURGER
  • ABC BURGER
  • PLANT SMASH BURGER

Their top seller beefless burger is also my personal favorite, but I’m sure you will find others just as amazing.

I also had to include their vegan nachos here because it beats all the nachos I’ve ever had!!

Besides the most amazing food, I also had a lovely chat with Antoinette, who told me all the effort that went into sourcing ingredients locally to reduce the environmental impacts of importing mock meat. I was so glad to hear that all the ingredients were ethically sourced, with lots of consideration concerning health, safety, and environment!

Highly recommend Brewski for your Friday nights, birthdays and any functions 🙂

Find Brewski on Facebook and Instagram.

Just Poppy’s

If you are going to try out every burger on Just Poppy’s menu, it’s gonna take you a lifeeeeetimeeee.

I’ve never seen a burger place with shocking 13 vegan burgers!

Certainly would keep your tastebuds satisfied if you are sharing different burgers with friends 😛

I loved the Catch of the day (fishless fish) and was blown away by how real the “fish” patty tasted! Definitely a treat for someone who used to love fish.

Plenty of plant-based, minimally unprocessed burgers such as Hommos to god, which uses a chickpea patty, The plant-based disgrace with a black bean and beetroot patty.

Just Poppy’s also has the most beautiful vegan platter, perfect for a group of animal lovers!

OH!! And this one is SPECIAL – Potato Portato using scallops as buns! – Very unique, very creative, very delicious!

Find Just Poppy’s on facebook and Instagram.

Grassfed

Grassfed is a new burger joint tucked away in the Fish Lane, brought to you by the amazing I Should Coco man behind the Brisbane vegan market scene.

They offer very affordable vegan burgers, as well as coconut-based icecreams!

This one is their biggest and most popular B.F.C burger, which will definitely make you happy on a cheat day.

Find Grassfed on facebook and Instagram.

VeganBurgz

How cool is a green burger?

I know. These green burgers just look so appetizing!

Stacks on was one of the 11 amazing vegan burgers and my favorite as it uses mushroom and eggplant instead of a processed patty!

Sweet-kale Roline is another must-try, made of sweet potato, chia seed patty, onions rings and kale!

Find VeganBurgz on facebook and Instagram.

Elixiba

Best is saved to the last!! Elixiba is the ultimate plant-based burger you can dream of – The bridge between health and social life.

It is currently located in Byron Bay and Sunshine Coast, but I’ve heard rumors that they will be coming to Brisbane soon!! Fingers crossed.

Hemp patty, jackfruit, massive sweet potato chips! All so yummy and healthy!

Elixiba also offers a range of other plant-based dishes that I wouldn’t call cheat meals, all made from healthy whole foods, satisfying both your taste buds and nutrition!

Find Elixiba on facebook and Instagram.

There you have it – 5 burger places you can go to on your cheat day! Remember not to do these toooooo often and base most of your daily foods around plant-based foods in their whole form 🙂

Remember – A small step towards plant-based vegan is a big step for health, environment and animals!

All photos are taken by Raymond, the vegan dietitian and photography enthusiast at Vegan Palette! Show your love for vegan and plant-based cafes/restaurants to encourage more people to try out the vegan options 🙂 If you own a vegan restaurant/cafe and would like a professional photoshoot/menu design/nutritional advice with Vegan Palette, please get in touch at raymond@veganpalette.com or our Facebook, Instagram, Website.

 

You’ll love these

Have you checked out our comprehensive Vegan Health & Nutrition Resources page? We have a bunch of support materials waiting for you including a dietitian guidebook, lifestyle checklists and assessments, and the best vegan websites we recommend, all for you for FREE.

 

About the author
healthy vegan palette writer Rainie

Rainie is a health, fitness and nutrition enthusiastic. She studied a bachelor of Biomedical Sciences degree to learn all about the human body and continued to pursue higher research training in a neuroscience laboratory to investigate how the brain develops. Rainie is now using the research skills she learned in the science degree to bring evidence-based nutrition practice to more health-conscious people.

 

 

10 nutritious vegan staples for your pantry

Is an empty pantry your trigger for ordering some quick but unhealthy vegan fast food?

Do your staples include all the important nutrients?

Don’t worry, we came up with a list of 10 nutritious vegan staples that will nourish your body, and bring you amazing flavours!

Of course, 10 is no way near the variety we should be having. Fresh veggies, leafy greens and fruits should always be in your house, so we are not including them here. Instead, this list is for you to check if any of them is a surprise to you!

You will see “… of all colours” a lot in the list because some of the most amazing foods such as quinoa come in more than one colour. We often get questions like which colour is the best nutritionally and the recommendation we give is – Mix it up and eat them all!

Here we go!

Oats

vegan oats

Oats are not boring – they are probably one of the most versatile foods! You can make oatmeal, overnight oats, pancakes, cookies and even pizza crust with it. My view of oats was completely transformed after finding the ‘Oat Queen’ Maddie on Youtube. She cooks anything and everything with oats – soak, cook, bake, blend! You need to check out her recipes page and ebook “ALWAYS OATS”.

You might also ask which type of oat is the best? Steel cut oats are the least processed and most nutritious one, but take longer to cook. Rolled oats are softer and easy to make oatmeals with, also a good choice. Try to avoid instant oats if you can as they are the most processed. Here is an article that explains the different processing of these oats.

Sweet potatoes of all colours

vegan sweet potato

Purple, yellow, red, white, have you tried all of them? My personal favorite is yellow sweet potato, they taste the softest and sweetest to me. But of course, different colours indicate different nutritional profiles and you should definitely mix them up. Sweet potatoes are so easy to make yummy – chuck in the oven and come back when you smell them! Sadly they have gotten a bad rep because of the false information on carbs and weight gain, which couldn’t be further from the truth! Sweet potatoes are high in water and very filling, which actually makes them perfect for weight loss.

Give yourself a 5 minute Sweet potato facts 101 and you’ll be surprised by how nutritious and beneficial they are! Sweet potatoes even show anti-cancer potential as Dr. Michael Greger explains it here. Check out this amazing recipe on vegan stuffed sweet potatoes!

Berries of all colours

vegan berries

If you don’t have some fresh or frozen berries in your kitchen, you definitely need to stack them up. Their anti-oxidant levels are through the roof. Berries are also amazing brain foods, counteract the toxicity of pesticides, inhibit platelet aggregation, and reduce muscle soreness! Blueberries are especially beneficial for lowering cholesterol and heart health. When fresh berries are not in season, simply keep some frozen berries in the freezer. You can make healthy smoothies and berry jam with them!

Beans of all colours

vegan beans

Most people don’t eat enough beans and legumes, missing out on their amazing benefits for heart health, and a longer lifespanBeans are highly filling foods, full of complex carbs, fibre, and protein. You might not have much time to soak and slow cook beans, but you can always easily get canned beans with BPA-free lining! Through your beans generously to salads, stews, and Buddha bowls. The best thing about beans? They make the most amazing sauce: Vegan hummus!

So many recipes with beans, so many!!

Quinoa of all colours

vegan quinoa

Did you know that the UN named 2013 ‘International Quinoa Year’ to highlight quinoa’s high nutrient content? It has twice the protein content of rice or barley and is an amazing source of calcium, magnesium, manganese, B vitamins, vitamin E and fibre. Quinoa is one of the least allergenic  ‘grains’, a good wheat alternative. Quinoa also has an excellent amino acid profile with all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein source. So many more benefits of quinoa are listed here. Don’t know how to cook them? Check out these 17 vegan quinoa recipes!

Plant milk of all kinds

vegan plant milk

Before I went vegan, I only ever drank cow’s milk or cow’s milk powder. I never knew this whole new world of soymilk, rice milk, almond milk, cashew milk, coconut milk, hemp milk, oat milk, flax milk, hazelnut milk and pea milk! It’s a crazy discovery! You can even learn to make your own plant-based milk – healthy, cruelty-free and inflammation-free.

Brazil nut

vegan brazil nut

Just like the eye-opening variety of plant-based milk, Brazil nut is another discovery after veganism. It is the richest known food source of Selenium and has many other benefitsan essential mineral for a healthy immune system and nervous system! If you are experiencing any sort of inflammation, get a brazil nut a day. Be aware not to consume more than that though as too much Selenium is not good either.

Garlic

vegan garlic

Garlic is used a lot in Asian cooking for good reasons – they bring out amazing flavours and also have many health benefits. Garlic and flavonoid phytonutrients found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains can counteract the mutagenic chemicals found in cooked meat.  Interestingly, consumption of small amounts of garlic or raisins may even lower the risk of premature birth. Garlic is also a natural food against lead poisoning and platelet activation. Small amounts of garlic are already powerful, why not just put a few gloves in your stew or stirfry? Check out these 12 Vegan garlic recipes.

Veggie pasta

vegan pasta

What?! Veggie pasta? Yes you heard me right.

Did you know there is pasta made from black beans, chickpeas, edamame, peas? Most of the pasta that you buy off the shelf used processed flour, which is nowhere near as good as using plant-based alternative ingredients! You might want to go to a local farmer’s market or organic health food store to find these pastas though. Here are some vegan pasta recipes for you 🙂

Edamame

vegan edamame

The last one may seem odd – edamame? What even is it?

Edamame are basically just young soybeans harvested before ripe that you can buy shelled or in the pod, often in the frozen section of Asian supermarkets. They are gluten-free, low in calories, contain no cholesterol, added sugar and lots of protein, iron and calcium. You might be surprised that tofu is not in this list as a protein staple, guess what, edamame is more nutritious than tofu! So easy to make to, you only need to steam them with a few minutes and there you have them.

When in doubt, start with this beautiful edamame quinoa salad!

 

 

You’ll love these

Have you checked out our comprehensive Vegan Health & Nutrition Resources page? We have a bunch of support materials waiting for you including a dietitian guidebook, lifestyle checklists and assessments, and the best vegan websites we recommend, all for you for FREE.

 

About the author
healthy vegan palette writer Rainie

Rainie is a health, fitness and nutrition enthusiastic. She studied a bachelor of Biomedical Sciences degree to learn all about the human body and continued to pursue higher research training in a neuroscience laboratory to investigate how the brain develops. Rainie is now using the research skills she learned in the science degree to bring evidence-based nutrition practice to more health-conscious people.

Inflammatory foods are misunderstood and the truth about food sensitivity

vegan gut health inflammatory food

Do you love onions, but find yourself a little bloated after eating them?

What about pizza and tomato sauce? Do they give you a heartburn every time?

Or maybe just sparkling water or brussels sprouts can make you feel gassy?

It’s likely that you’ve had these symptoms, perhaps with other food, even “healthy food“. You wouldn’t usually connect the mild symptoms to food, and realize they are a distress signal.

This distress signal is usually a sign that your body is rejecting the food and having a hard time digesting it. War is happening and inflammation is the result.

inflammatory foods

Is there a way out? Yes, but you might not like it – Leave out the foods that your body doesn’t like, even if they are your favorite.

However, this list of “To avoid foods” will be different for everyone. There is no one bucket for inflammatory foods. Our bodies respond differently to the same foods.

Maybe your body doesn’t respond well to the “healthy foods” such as olive and garlic, they might even be labeled anti-inflammatory! 

But understand that those labels are based just on their nutritional makeups and the effect on the average population. What might be healthy for others might be inflammatory for you, and vice versa.

Food intolerance, allergy, or sensitivity?

These are three different things.

Food intolerance is when your body lacks certain enzymes to break down certain proteins. An example is lactose intolerance. People who are lactose intolerant lack the lactase enzyme. What’s the solution? Avoid milk and dairy products, substitute with plant milk.

Food allergies and sensitivities are due to an overreacting immune system. Allergies are immediate and can be life-threatening at times. Common food allergies include nuts, eggs, and shellfish.

Food sensitivities are usually milder and can be delayed by hours to days, depending on how much of the suspect food you ingested. Some common symptoms of food sensitivities include: bloating, cramps, sneezing, headache, fatigue, joint or muscle pain. It is easy to miss these symptoms as they are not necessarily related to digestion and therefore linked to food.

Are you sensitive to certain foods?

When people talk about inflammatory foods, what they are really talking about are food sensitivities, not intolerances or allergies.

The tricky part is that food sensitivities can be hard to pinpoint. You can’t just get a skin or blood test, like you can with allergies.

Food sensitivities have symptoms that can vary and be easily confused with other health conditions. But from now on, you can be more mindful and catch some foods that you are sensitive to.

How?

Once you’ve cleaned up your diet and excluded the foods that you are sensitive to, you will naturally feel better and those symptoms will disappear. Next time you get symptoms of sensitivity, think about what foods you ate and do a trial and error style eliminating to see by getting rid of which food, you can avoid the symptoms.

Trial and error? Wouldn’t this take forever?

Well, nailing down the best foods for your unique body is not an easy job!

But, there are some obvious foods that doctors agree on you should reduce or eliminate. So you can start with these:

  • sugar, syrup, soft drinks
  • refined carbs (white breads, white rice, refined pasta)
  • fried foods, even if it’s king oster mushrooms fried with olive oil!
  • all kinds of fats and oil

junk processed food

Once you’ve cut out this obvious list, you will likely feel a lot better already. But like I said, even on the “healthy foods” list, there might be foods that your particular body doesn’t cope well with.

Now is time to really pay close attention to any symptoms after eating particular foods. You’ll find yourself being a detective, sorting through every little thing that you put in your body. Don’t be frustrated, you are doing your body a huge favor.

A food diary really helps! You can find a “Food, Symptom and Mood Diary” on our Resources page. Write everything down, even if you think they are unlikely. Every food is innocent until proven guilty, so even the “healthiest” food should not be ruled out. Remember, if it is considered healthy, but doesn’t work well with your body, then it is not good for you and don’t force yourself to eat it.

What’s labeled “superfood”, “healthfood” out there, may have some nutrition evidence, but keep in mind – they are out their also because they are profitable! Just look at coconut oil, it was claimed to be a “superfood” for so many health problems, yet after more research, it turns out it’s just another fad. I have a blog on this called “Why can’t food scientists agree on coconut oil?” if you want to read more.

Being a detective in your own life

Don’t focus on the hard efforts you have to put in each day to keep track of all the food, instead, focus on how much better your body feels after eliminating the foods you are sensitive too. You are going to be in this detective game for a while, but not forever. Soon you will find yourself more energetic and less grumpy.

Of course, don’t end up at the conclusion that your body loves chips, meats, processed foods because you feel awesome after eating them. The natural body reactions we are talking about in this article DO NOT equal addictive feelings! You know that those processed foods are there to trigger the reward center in your brain and overwrite the true responses. Eliminate them without a question!

Over time, your plate should look whole food and plant based. Your body will heal as you make these changes. Your goal is to feed yourself the right foods that really nurture your body and mind, to prevent chronic inflammation, the crappy feelings it brings. Chronic inflammation is the root cause for many long-term diseases, so don’t overlook the mild symptoms!

Start paying attention to what you put in your mouth. And feel free to let our dietitian take a look at your food diary!

happy healthy energetic plant based vegan

You’ll love these

Have you checked out our comprehensive Vegan Health & Nutrition Resources page? We have a bunch of support materials waiting for you including a dietitian guidebook, lifestyle checklists and assessments, and the best vegan websites we recommend, all for you for FREE.

 

About the author
healthy vegan palette writer Rainie

Rainie is a health, fitness and nutrition enthusiastic. She studied a bachelor of Biomedical Sciences degree to learn all about the human body and continued to pursue higher research training in a neuroscience laboratory to investigate how the brain develops. Rainie is now using the research skills she learned in the science degree to bring evidence-based nutrition practice to more health-conscious people.

 

The simple act of eating healthy plant based holds promise to depression prevention

Said not me, but a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.

. . .

Last month I went to a career networking event – nothing about the event itself changed, but I did.

I’ve always liked going to events for the extra perk of getting free food. I didn’t care about whether they are junk food because free = good.

But over the last year, I have become a lot more mindful about the food I put into my body, after reading research articles on the health implications of the standard American diet, processed food, meat, and dairy…

I was constantly in shock of how much misinformation we hold regarding health. I mean, just look at the number of fad diets out there if you don’t believe me!

I got to the networking event. Everyone was having a great time with alcohol and free food. In the past, I would too. But I wasn’t so happy looking at the food options — all sorts of deep fried finger foods: spring rolls, chicken wings, beef pies, pork dim sims, chicken nuggets, fries …

fried-chicken

Everyone else looked so happy, voluntarily ingesting one piece after another, while sipping some delicious alcohol.

But … are we really happy?

According to the World Health Organization, 300 million people around the world have depression. Nearly 50% of all people diagnosed with depression also experience an anxiety disorder. It’s estimated that 15% of the adult population will experience depression at some point in life.

I am not saying that bad eating habits and unhealthy food cause depression (although likely true), but it is a common practice for depressed people to indulge in some addictively yummy junk food — ice cream, chips, soft drinks etc. Once it becomes a habit, the occasional cheat meals naturally become the default, even when we are not feeling depressed.

And what does that lead to?

Unhealthy diet contributes to approximately 678,000 deaths each year in the U.S. due to nutrition- and obesity-related diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. 1 In the last 30 years, obesity rates have doubled in adults, tripled in children, and quadrupled in adolescents.

Does what we put into our body affect how we feel, physically and mentally? Of course it does! When you don’t treat your car nicely by giving it the cheapest, crappiest fuel, will you expect it to run far?

broken car analogy to food

One day, the car will break down because of all the crap it was fed. You will have to dump in a lot of money to fix it, just like fixing depression and anxiety with a bunch of drugs that don’t always work.

But…why didn’t you just put in some good fuel in the first place?

The effects of healthy diets on mood have been known for some time but many people (including doctors) will rather turn to the “safer” option of medications to treat disorders like depression. This is often simply because the impact of dietary modification as a treatment or intervention strategy is not straightforward to quantify and the evidence seems to be “up in the air”.

But, a new Australian study has looked at 16 randomized control trials with outcome data for 45,826 participants and come back with a simple, clear message:

“If you want to feel better, eat less junk.”

What we call “comfort food”, high in sugar and fat, activate our brain’s reward center. This is just similar to smoking and drug addiction — while we may feel some temporary pleasure, it doesn’t benefit us in the long run.

Instead, eating nutrient-dense foods that are high in fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, while reducing processed foods with refined sugars are truly beneficial, in the short and long term. Health-promoting whole foods should be consumed daily, in great variety and abundantly.

How should your plate look like?

A variety of plant-based whole foods: vegetables, leafy greens, fruits, legumes, grains making up a colorful palette.

vegan palette food plate

While further research is always required to understand the specific mechanisms underlying the effect, we are slowly getting a more comprehensive picture of how food affects the whole body, one that includes our massive gut microbiome. Changing what we eat firstly affects the plethora of bacteria living in our bellies.

While the finding that “Junk food is bad, plants are good” isn’t so new, this meta-analysis is still a significant step forward in really implementing dietary interventions for mood disorders such as depression.

If you are already eating plant-based, amazing! If you are considering and need more evidence, there are plenty:

The best diet for depression“, “Improving mood through diet” by Nutritionfacts.org

Foods that fight depression” by Physicians committee for responsible medicine

Knowing something works is one matter, but using it for real is another

Health practitioners usually have a heavy influence on what approaches patients take to improve their health. Doctors, dietitians, psychologists, therapists, coaches, and the plant-based community should take up the responsibility to be early adopters of lifestyle changes as disease intervention and treatment.

With this new study, health practitioners should be more confident in prescribing dietary interventions alongside other treatment options.

Of course, health is yours. No matter what the doctor, or the dietitian, or the internet says, you hold the ultimate choice of what to put in your body.

You may not be able to decide what kinds of food appear in an event you have to attend, but you can choose to avoid eating them and seek healthier alternatives.

When depression and anxiety kick in, you may feel like you don’t have control over your mind. But don’t just give up taking the control back and indulge in fast food for temporary pleasure.

Seek professional help, learn some nutrition from credible sources, and make small changes every day! Of course, exercise is another key element for improving your mood and overall health 🙂

healthy vegan

References

https://journals.lww.com/psychosomaticmedicine/Abstract/publishahead/The_effects_of_dietary_improvement_on_symptoms_of.98656.aspx

https://cspinet.org/eating-healthy/why-good-nutrition-important

https://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/health-and-wellness/the-simple-change-we-can-make-to-reduce-the-risk-of-depression-20190204-p50vmu.html

You’ll love these

Have you checked out our comprehensive Vegan Health & Nutrition Resources page? We have a bunch of support materials waiting for you including a dietitian guidebook, lifestyle checklists and assessments, and the best vegan websites we recommend, all for you for FREE.

 

About the author
healthy vegan palette writer Rainie

Rainie is a health, fitness and nutrition enthusiastic. She studied a bachelor of Biomedical Sciences degree to learn all about the human body and continued to pursue higher research training in a neuroscience laboratory to investigate how the brain develops. Rainie is now using the research skills she learned in the science degree to bring evidence-based nutrition practice to more health-conscious people.

 


Why can’t food scientists agree on coconut oil? Does it really burn fat?

What’s the fuss?

Coconut oil is probably one of the most controversial food. Some regard it is a “superfood“, rich in antioxidant and other nutrients. Claims regarding what it can do ranges from burning fat, preventing Alzheimer’s disease and improving endurance. But surprisingly, others consider it as a “devilfood“. Karin Micheals, a professor at Harvard, even went as far as calling coconut oil a “pure poison“.

 

What’s the truth?

Why can’t food scientists agree on coconut oil? Are the claimed benefits backed up by research or made up simply for propaganda?

 

Well, interestingly this debate on the coconut oil is actually related to changes in our nutrition guidelines and beliefs.

 

In the past, fats were considered bad and people consumed mostly carbohydrates in their diets. Of course, in the modern days, carbs often translate into highly processed, bad carbs, not complex natural carbs. As a result, obesity and diabetes skyrocketed, leading to new advice in the opposite direction “Avoid carbs and eat more fats!”

 

The pro-fat voice soon pushed avocados, olive oil and chia seeds into the spotlight. The public quickly learned about these new foods and called them “superfood“. While most food scientists and nutritionists agree that the fats in avocados and olive oil are healthy, compared to other fat sources, they couldn’t quite agree on coconut oil, a food composed almost entirely of saturated fat!

 

For decades, the heart associations educate people that saturated fat is bad as it increases cholesterol levels, putting people at risk for terrible heart diseases.

 

But coconut oil comes from plants, surely it is healthy?

 

Of course, coconut oil is not pro-inflammatory like meat. But compared to other vegetable oil that is lower in saturated fat, coconut oil does increase LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol” levels, make it less healthy. Therefore, it is all relative – coconut oil can be considered healthy or unhealthy, depending on what you are comparing it to.

 

If you have been puzzled by coconut oil, don’t subscribe to either extreme – It is not a “superfood“, but it is also not a “devilfood“. There are both better and worse sources that can offer you the needed fat.

 

Does coconut oil really burn fat?

The fat-burning claim about coconut oil came from some evidence that suggested the medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) in coconut oil can promote fat loss. While it is true that coconut oil contains a lot of MCT, follow-up research has shown no difference in the fat-burning ability of coconut oil compared to other types of oil.

 

In fact, there are only 4 calories in 1 gram of protein and carbohydrate, but there are 9 calories in 1 gram of fat! Correct – more than double. This applies to all oil types, including coconut oil! So by consuming lots of coconut oil, you can easily add 200-400 extra calories and that of course, will reflect on your waistline. To sum up, coconut oil doesn’t burn fat, instead, it could make you gain weight. You should avoid over-consumption of all types of oils, even if it’s vegetable oil!

 

Conclusion

For those of you already on a vegan, plant-based diet, coconut oil is probably in your kitchen a lot. Don’t throw it out, as it is surely much better than butter and improves the flavor of many dishes. However, also don’t over-use this one type of oil. In fact, be cautious of any claim of “superfood” as it is like just propaganda. The best way to eat healthily is always to have variety like we always advocate for at Vegan Palette. In this case of oil, have other monounsaturated and polyunsaturated oils in your kitchens, such as olive oil, sunflower oil, and canola oil.

 

To learn more about coconut oil and vegetable oils, I recommend Dr. Michael Greger:

Coconut oil

Is coconut oil good for you?

Does coconut oil cure Alzheimer’s?

Does coconut oil clog arteries?

What about coconuts, coconut milk & coconut oil MCTs?

 

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26946252

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18326600

 

You’ll love these

Have you checked out our comprehensive Vegan Health & Nutrition Resources page? I’ve compiled my gifts, knowledge and tips regarding thriving on a vegan lifestyle in this page, including a dietitian guidebook, grocery shopping list, lifestyle checklists, and the best vegan websites I recommend, all for you for FREE.

 

About the author


Raymond_dietitian_from_Vegan_Palette_with_food_plate

Raymond Setiadi is an Australian Accredited Practising Dietitian and is the founder of Vegan Palette,  a Brisbane-based dietitian practice.

As an expert in whole food plant-based nutrition and fat loss strategies, Raymond has a comprehensive understanding of the interplay between food,  human physiology, goal-directed psychology, and how they all play a pivotal role in one’s pursuit of optimal health.

 

 

Map of the Vegan services in Brisbane

Vegan Palette Resource_ vegan services map brisbane

Inspired by the Map of the Queensland innovation ecosystem, I created a special map for the vegans in Brisbane!

 

The Map of Services Available for Vegans – Brisbane is here to support all current vegans and those transitioning to a vegan lifestyle. The purpose of this map is to make the services and initiatives more visible to support vegan experience in Brisbane.

 

My hope is that by showing how extensive our support network is, more fellow vegans and vegan-curious friends will be excited to be on a journey of Health, Love, and Purpose.

 

Vegan Palette Resource_ vegan services map brisbane

 

This map captures both local and online services offered by national, international vegan communities, local business and societies, education institutions, non-governmental organisations, individual and group activities in Brisbane.

 

Work in progress and missing logos

There are so many great organisations involved that support a vegan’s journey. Some will be missed from the map, and many embarrassingly obvious. If this is you, I am really sorry, please comment below or send me an email at raymond@veganpalette.com.

 

Scope and context

The scope of the map is Brisbane, but also includes some services in Queensland, or worldwide. I highly recommend each region to have their own version of the map, to improve vegan experience Australia wide. Please feel free to use this map as a template.

Next steps

The map is not perfect, and I am sure there are missing services. But in the interest of shipping over perfect, it will do for this release and I will keep updating it based on your feedback.

Your feedback is welcome and appreciated. Please contact me via one of the following means:

Email: raymond@veganpalette.com

Facebook: @veganpalette

Instagram: @askveganpalette

 

You’ll love these

Have you checked out our comprehensive Vegan Health & Nutrition Resources page? I’ve compiled my gifts, knowledge and tips regarding thriving on a vegan lifestyle in this page, including a dietitian guidebook, grocery shopping list, lifestyle checklists, and the best vegan websites I recommend, all for you for FREE.

 

About the author


Raymond_dietitian_from_Vegan_Palette_with_food_plate

Raymond Setiadi is an Australian Accredited Practising Dietitian and is the founder of Vegan Palette,  a Brisbane-based dietitian practice.

As an expert in whole food plant-based nutrition and fat loss strategies, Raymond has a comprehensive understanding of the interplay between food,  human physiology, goal-directed psychology, and how they all play a pivotal role in one’s pursuit of optimal health.