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.

 

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.

 


Combating diabetes: latest research and approaches

 

What is the most important factor when it comes to diabetes genetics, sugar, calories, insulin

 

A few years ago, we may say sugar and insulin, but new research has dramatically changed what we know about diabetes.

 

“Fat, get out of the way and let me pump my sugar!” – Insulin.

 

It turns out that the fat in animal products and oils prevent insulin from doing its critical job – moving glucose into cells, lowering blood sugar level, and keeping us healthy.

 

In other words, what caused your diabetes or made it worse is not just your refined white bread or sugary drinks, but also the mayo dressing or cheese slices that you eat all the time!

 

Experiments on mice have shown that when fat is reduced from the diet, insulin can function properly, alleviating and eventually curing Type II diabetes!

 

Therefore, a low-fat, plant-based diet is the best for diabetes and conditions associated with it, such as heart disease, obesity, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.

Has this been shown in humans?

 

Yes. One study found that 21 of 23 patients on oral medications and 13 of 17 patients on insulin did not need their medications after 26 days on a near-vegetarian diet and exercise program.

These dietary changes are simple, but the effects they had are profound, both on a short-term and long-term scale. However, Dr. Neal Barnard from Physicians Committee of Responsible medicine points out that “choosing skinless chicken, skim milk, and baked fish is not enough of a change for most people to beat diabetes”. A plant-based diet is necessary if you are serious about diabetes.

How to combat diabetes with a dietary approach?

Go plant-based and throw out animal products.

Make your meals with whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. Drink water. Keep nuts
or seeds to a small handful every day. The amount that you sprinkle on your breakfast oatmeal is sufficient. Avoid animal products of all sorts to avoid saturated fats. You can easily get your protein and fat intake with balanced plant-based meals so don’t worry. Plus, there are plenty of resources on our page that can help you, such as this food plate from Vegan Palette.
vegan Food Plate

Avoid vegetable oil too.

Although vegetable oils are healthier compared to animal fats, they should still be avoided. All fats and oils are high in calories – 1g of any fat or oil has 9 calories, whereas 1g of carbohydrate has only 4 calories. We only need a small amount each day and it is so easy to go overboard in the modern days. Remember to watch out for oily sauces and dressings. Also, don’t assume you can eat as many avocados and nuts as you want! Check out this video by an accredited dietitian, nutritionist Raymond from Vegan Palette :”Why eating plant-based means giving up oil“.

Read food labels! 

Don’t be fooled by the packaging. Food industries can print “Low-calories”, “Low fat” in big block letters and fool you into thinking they are healthy. Always check the back and choose foods with no more than 2-3g of fat per serving if you are serious about not getting diabetes.

Avoid high GI foods.

The glycemic index (GI) identifies foods that tend to raise blood sugar. These include white rice, white and wheat bread, corn flakes, puffed rice cereals, and most commercial cereals. Swap them with low GI foods, such as oats, sweet potations, natural pasta, beans and so on. Instead of rice, you can eat quinoa. Instead of white bread, you can eat rye bread, multigrain brain, and sourdough.

Lots and lots of fibre

Fibre is literally the best thing about plant-based diets. They are the natural cleaners for your blood vessels and digestive system. If you follow the above advice and eat plenty of plant foods, you will easily get at least 40g of fibre per day. You should aim for at least 40g of fibre each day. When reading food labels, check if there is at least 3g of fiber per serving.

To learn more about diabetes and get started fixing it with a plant-based dietary approach, we recommend these resources:

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.

Is bread healthy? How to select wisely with these simple tricks

bread

I love bread. Who doesn’t like watching bread take its shape in the oven, while smelling that appetising hot air? Finally, that long awaited bread is ready, you take it out of the oven, and sprinkle some cinnamon – perfect.

 

We are not alone. Bread has been consumed for over 30,000 years. It is THE MOST popular food in the whole wide world.

 

It makes sense that bread arose early in the human history as an excellent source of nutrition since a traditional loaf requires only 4 ingredients: flour, yeast, water and salt. For natural leavens or sourdoughs, yeast is even unnecessary.

 

The bread we are eating today

 

“What? Just 4 ingredients? What is that long list of ingredients at the back of the bread I buy then?”

white bread ingredients

Source: Cole’s Whole-Grain Cinnamon French Toast

 

Take the white bread as an example. You would think that the ingredient list should look simple, but unfortunately it is not.

 

Nowadays, bread is not just bread anymore. The simplest white bread has over 30 ingredients, many of them an ordinary person can’t even pronounce. In fact, white bread isn’t even nutritionally worth it to consume, as it is so deprived of nutrients and fibre during the heaving processing. I recommend you watch Dr. Michael Greger‘s video on Is white bread good for you?

 

If bread only takes 4 ingredients to make, what are all these things doing there? Probably to make the bread appear ultra white, smooth, light, soft and even stay on the shelf for weeks. I don’t think we want those things in our bodies.

 

Well, white bread is bad because it is so cheap. But what about the more expensive ones that claim to be healthier?

abbotts bread ingredients

 

The Abbott’s bread is a popular “healthy choice” in Australia. Now the ingredient list looks more like comprehensible language, indeed much better. But still, what are maltodextrin, emulsifiers and flavouring powders doing there?

 

It is extremely hard to find simple, authentic bread made of just the ingredients necessary. This is just an example of over-processing in the modern food industry.

 

Should we just stop eating bread? That’s not what i am suggesting. Baked bread is an excellent source of iodine, and whole-grain bread with little processing is excellent. Research has shown that 3 portions of whole gains can reduce the risk of getting a heart attack by 15%, and the risk of getting a stroke by roughly 25%.

 

It just takes some effort to find bread that is actually good for you. But we are going to teach you how!

 

What bread should you really be eating?

If the original recipe for bread is simply 4 ingredients, then it makes sense that we should aim to get bread that is made that way. In other words – get as close to the original recipe as possible.

 

Instead of going to supermarket, try a local bakery and ask the baker what the ingredients are. The bakers tend to use real flour, instead of the “enriched” or “refined” flour that is commonly used in commercial bread.

 

Note that for people who are trying to control their blood sugar levels, definitely stay away from enriched or refined white flour, as they can make your blood sugar to spike.

 

In contrast, natural whole grains are nutrient-dense, more satiating and is much milder on blood sugar level. Be careful though, that many commercial bread put words like “multi-grain“, “whole-grain” at the front of their packaging but are actually misleading. Flip over the bread and look at the ingredient list to see if those are false claims.

 

A simple math trick to distinguish between true whole-grain bread and false claims

One way you can quickly distinguish between authentic whole-grain bread and false claims is this simple math trick: if the serving size ratio of carbohydrates to fibre is equal to or less than 5 to 1 (eg. 15g of carbs and 3g of fibre), this bread passes the whole-grain test. If the ratio ends up being something like 18, which is not uncommon for many brands, put the bread back onto the shelf.

 

This simple 5 to 1 rule comes from Dr. Michael Gregor and can be used for other things too such as breakfast cereal. Don’t ever believe what the front package claims without performing this test yourself!

 

Sourdough breads 

 

Another healthy option, especially for people who are gluten-sensitive is sourdough. This is the bread that Ikarians eat. Ikaria is one of the world’s blue zones (places with the highest life expectancy). Ikaria has even been called the island where people forget to die! One secret is that ikarians eat true sourdough bread that is fermented not with bakers yeast but lactobacilli, a beneficial naturally-occurring bacterial strain. The resulting bread is slightly more sour in taste, but has less gluten and a naturally longer shelf life. It is nutrient-rich and slow burning, excellent for those who want to lost fat.

 

However, it is common to find fake sourdough breads in stores nowadays. If they still contain yeast or sweetener, they are not true sourdough breads. Go to a local bakery and ask for how their sourdough bread is made. Of course, the best solution is to just make you own. Here is a recipe from the Blue Zones website.

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, this post is not to discourage you from eating bread. Good whole-grain bread is beneficial for you but you need to select wisely. Choose bread with fewer ingredients, ideally baked fresh in a local bakery. Always have a chat with the baker to see how the bread is made, especially when you are looking for true sourdough breads – they can be tricky to find. Use the simple “5 to 1 carbs to fibre” rule to distinguish between true whole-grain bread and false claims. If you can implement these simple tricks to select your bread, you can enjoy the pleasures of bread as well as the health benefits!

 

References

https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/050113p44.shtml

https://nutritionfacts.org/2018/05/08/follow-the-5-to-1-rule-for-packaged-foods/

https://nutritionfacts.org/video/is-white-bread-good-for-you/

 

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.

 

 

 

Who are at risk for iodine deficiency and how to prevent it on a vegan diet

vegan food

While it is common for vegans to worry about B12, Iodine doesn’t get nearly as much attention. You’ll soon get to learn about some surprising facts about iodine from this post and know what to do to avoid iodine deficiency.

 

Iodine is crucial for the production of thyroid hormones. Deficiency can lead to thyroid enlargement. Pregnant women, in particular, need to pay close attention as inadequate iodine can harm the growth of the developing foetus.

 

Since vegans replace cow’s milk with various plant milk, one concern is that the lower iodine content in plant milk puts vegans at higher risk of iodine deficiency. Is this true that veganism is the reason for iodine deficiency and non-vegans are safe from it?

 

First of all, even the non-vegans are not getting as much iodine out of milk since the dairy industry has stopped using iodine-based disinfectant for cleaning milking equipment. So definitely don’t subscribe to the claim that drinking cow’s milk keeps you safe from iodine deficiencies. In fact, Australians on average have median iodine intake (only about 100mcg!), which makes us mildly iodine deficient. Everyone needs to be more aware of their iodine intake!

 

Here are the iodine intake recommendations:

  • 150mcg   Adults
  • 220mcg  Pregnant women
  • 270mcg  Breast feeding women
  • 90mcg    Children aged 1-8 years old
  • 1000mcg recommended upper limit of intake (too much is toxic too!)

 

Let’s take a look at what other factors can affect iodine levels in people.

 

1. Regional soil

Due to lower soil iodine levels in the South East Australia, children have lower iodine levels when compared to those from Queensland and Western Australia.

 

2. Processed food industry

Iodised salt is an excellent source for iodine, except it is not used as much as the old days. Instead, it is often replaced by all sorts of other processed food flavors, chemicals, that achieve the same or better taste, without the added iodine.

 

3. People avoiding bread on low-carb diets

Believe it or not, the iodine deficiency problem is addressed by legislation that requires bakers to use iodised salt in bread. Therefore, having whole-grain bread is recommended. Nowadays, carb is still falsely perceived as “The devil for weight” in many people’s minds. While it is true that white bread is unhealthy as it is highly refined and poor in nutrition, whole-grain bread is excellent for your nutrition.

 

So how can we ensure adequate iodine intake?

A true whole food, plant-based diet.

By that, I don’t mean processed vegan junk food, grain-free, low-carb diet, but a truly balanced diet that focuses on a variety of whole foods, minimally processed and covering all the essential food groups. For more information on what these food groups are, visit my comprehensive Resources page after this post.

 

Dietitian recommendations on how to avoid iodine deficiency

  • While too much salt is certainly bad for you, do use iodised salt and bake bread with iodised salt on a diet that is low in salt. Completely eliminating salt from your diet is not recommended.
  • Seaweed products are a rich source of iodine.  I recommend Nori (40mcg per 2.5g sheet), wakame (250mcg/g) and dulse (~125mcg/g).

Nori to avoid iodine deficiencywakame to avoid iodine deficiencydulse to avoid iodine deficiency

 

  • For some, getting iodine from diet is simply not enough, be it vegan or other diets. Women who are breastfeeding, pregnant or planning to become pregnant should be extra conscious of iodine. First, have the iodine status checked with a doctor. Or, take a small iodine supplement providing 75-150mgs of iodine everyday.

 

Conclusion

It is certainly untrue that vegans are the only people at risk for iodine deficiency. In fact, the average Australian is mildly deficient! Therefore, drinking cow’s milk is not a safeguard to high iodine level. It is just another false claim from the dairy industry, unfortunately. Keep plant powered folks, and sprinkle a little iodised salt on your amazing plant foods!

 

For more information, I highly recommend Dr. Michael Greger’s videos

 

Feel free to let us know your personal journey on this, our Brisbane-based accredited practicing dietitian, nutritionist is here to help! You can learn about our services and how to get in touch.

 

References

Plant based Health Australia

National Health and Medical Research Council

Nutrition Australia

 

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.

 

 

Disease-fighting phytonutrients – power of real plant foods

vegetables vegan diet

 

When it comes to nutrition, I bet what you hear most often are carbs, proteins and fats. These are the macronutrients, but…are they all we need?

 

You might also have heard of micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals. For many people, Micronutrients are not a big deal considering how easily accessible multi-vitamin supplements are nowadays.

 

So…If you are getting all you macros, plus taking those all-in-one vitamin supplementations, you have everything you need, right?

 

Well. Technically that’s what you need to live. Nutrients include carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals, all of which are essential to life. These are the basic requirements.

 

But… to live a healthy, disease-free life? Not quite enough.

 

Today’s topic is all about the powerful, under-appreciated phytonutrients.

  • What are they?
  • What can they do?
  • Where to get them?

 

There are also some important pointers and gifts at the end, make sure you go there and check them out!

 

What are phytonutrients?

 

“Phyto” comes from the Greek word for “plant”. Natural phytonutrients give plant foods their rich colour, tastes and smells.

 

Phytonutrients are technically not “nutrients”, but there is strong evidence that they play a crucial role in maintaining health and preventing diseases, including cancers. Discovering and utilising phytonutrients are part of a growing area of health and nutrition.

 

In my opinion (and perhaps some other health professionals), phytonutrients should be added to the definition of essential nutrients for healthy living. 

 

More than 900 phytonutrient compounds have been discovered and scientists are still uncovering more from the powerful plant kingdom. Some well-known phytonutrients are isoflavones in soy, lignans in flaxseed, beta-carotene in carrots, flavonoids in berries.

 

Benefits of phytonutrients

 

Long before phytonutrients were discovered, people began to notice that those who eat mostly plant foods are less likely to experience chronic diseases than those who consumed meat and processed foods.

 

In addition to the well-known benefits of plant foods including high fibre, low saturated fat, low sugar and salt, what else could be preventing diseases?

 

Phytonutrients – That’s right!

 

Phytonutrients can protect against diseases in a number of ways such as

  • Improving immune function
  • Stimulating enzymes that protect against toxins and carcinogens
  • Neutralising the free radicals that could damage DNA
  • Decreasing blood cholesterol level
  • Regulating blood glucose level

 

Some phytonutrients are extremely powerful because of their anti-oxidant and anti-diabetic properties. Flavonoids are one such example. Berries are rich in flavonoids and are highly recommended for healthy aging, diabetes control, fighting cancer and fat burning. 

 

We encourage you to check out Dr. Michael Greger‘s videos on flavonoids!

 

How do you get lots of phytonutrients?

 

It’s so simple –  The different colours reflect phytonutrients present in different plant foods. To ensure you get more phytonutrients, you simply need to eat a colourful plate of fruits, veggies and whole grains.

 

Is it really that simple? Yes, it is all about diversity and real plant foods. Nature has loaded so many health-promoting compounds into plant foods, we just need to appreciate them in the original form and minimise processing that may damage the structures of these compounds.

 

If you don’t believe me, here is a table released by Harvard Medical School.

 

Phytonutrients, Their Sources And Potential Benefits

Source: Harvard Medical School

 

Is there a magic phytonutrient pill?

 

Phytonutrients are great, and you have to get them the RIGHT way – eating a variety of plant foods. A pill just simply can’t do what real foods can.

 

A plant food may contain in itself more than 100 types of phytonutrients and they only provide the optimal benefits when consumed all together – a phenomenon known as synergy. When you are consuming a variety of plant foods, complex synergistic interactions are going in your body.

 

Attempting to take out particular elements is just not going to work. In fact, research has shown that for some people, taking beta-carotene supplementation can actually be harmful!

 

Remember – “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts“. This always holds true in the debate between supplementation or real foods.

 

A few more pointers

  • Eat at least 6 servings of fruits and vegetables a day!
  • Variety does not just apply to fruits and vegetables. Don’t just stick to one type of grain and miss out on the phytonutrients in different whole grains! Alternate between whole wheat, rice, oatmeal, whole-wheat couscous, triticale, spelt, buckwheat etc.
  • Eat phytonutrient-rich foods throughout the day to keep blood levels of these components constant. This way you get the most benefits.
  • It is so important to keep track of your lifestyle habits, you can download my lifestyle checklist and Food, symptom & mood diary on my Comprehensive Resources Page.

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.

 

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References

Disease fighting phytonutrients, Harvard Medical School 

Phytonutrients for fall, Harvard Medical School

NutritionFacts.org

Phenomenal phytonutrients: the reason we need real food

 

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.