We all want to be thin to look better, no doubt, but also for health reasons.

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How many people we haven’t heard of who need to lose weight in order to walk better or avoid the pains of their knees. And of how many others who after losing weight manage to regulate their metabolism problems and even control their sugar and cholesterol levels.

As Dr. Josep Mercola, another of the drivers of paleo* diets (high-fat, low-carb diets), states in his books (such as “Heal effortlessly”.  Ed. Grijalbo); losing weight is one of the fundamental pillars to achieve our goal of staying healthy and disease-free. *Below, we will describe this type of diet better.

If you’re one of those people who’s really worried about being overweight, going veg@n is a very interesting option.

In a recent article of “Medium”, according to Margie Zable Fisher, it was noted that:  

According to the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, well-planned vegan diets are healthy for people at all stages of life, including children and pregnant women.

“I recommend vegan or plant-based diets for anyone who wants to prevent or control lifestyle-related diseases or who wants to optimize health,” says Sujatha Rajaram, PhD, a professor at Loma Linda University’s Center for Nutrition, Healthy Lifestyle and Disease Prevention.

Without a doubt, the best way to consume fiber for weight loss is with foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. This does not mean that simply adding more fiber foods to our diet will serve to lose weight. Nothing further from reality.

To lose weight you should also eliminate harmful products such as those that contain an excess of saturated fats (fries, industrial pastries) as well as refined products, and in turn add fitness routines to improve health and thus lose weight.

According to Rajaram and also Dr. Sharon Palmer, dietitian and author of “The Plant Powered Diet”, a plant-based diet can improve health.

The main health benefits of a plant-based diet include:

Weight management: The types of foods vegans eat, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes, are high in fiber and phytonutrients that protect health. Rajaram  says eating nutrient-rich plant foods can help increase satiety or fullness and can even lead to weight loss. A 2013 study found that a group that followed a vegan diet for 18 weeks lost about 9.5 pounds, while the control group lost less than a pound. Research also shows that plant-based diets help prevent and help control type 2 diabetes.

Lower cholesterol and blood pressure: If your cholesterol or blood pressure is too high, you may be at risk for heart disease. Studies show that a vegan diet could help. A 2017 review analyzed 49 studies that compared plant-based diets with omnivorous diets to test their effects on blood cholesterol. While vegetarian diets reduced levels of total cholesterol, LDL and HDL compared to omnivorous diets, those who followed vegan diets saw the greatest reduction in lipid levels. In addition, an analysis of 2020 studies found that plant-based diets lower blood pressure.

Longevity: All the health benefits of a vegan diet, including weight management and cholesterol and blood pressure reduction, also lead to a lower risk of dying from heart disease, according to a 2019 study. Research has also shown that vegan diets can even reduce your risk of cancer.

“If you’re not ready to become vegan, it’s beneficial to take even small steps toward feeding whole-grain plant foods,” Rajaram says. “Even simply deciding not to eat red or processed meat will help you start seeing more health benefits.”

 

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THE DETRACTORS OF THIS DIETETIC MODEL continue to emphasize the issue of vitamin B12 deficiency *Problems associated with this deficiency include: tiredness, exhaustion, tingling, numbness, reduced sensitivity to pain or pressure, cloudy eyesight, poor memory, confusion, depression, hallucinations and personality changes.

Vitamin B12 is not found in a bioavailable form in any plant-based food. All is made by bacteria, including those of the earth and intestinal tract of animals and humans. This might make you think you don’t need to ingest B12 as our bacteria can produce it. However, absorption is in the small intestine and synthesis (if any) occurs in the large intestine. Water and soil contaminated with bacteria often contain B12, which might explain that some low-hygiene vegan rural populations are not lacking in it.

More and more people suffer from this deficiency, regardless of whether they are vegan or not. According to FESNAD (Spanish Federation of Societies of Nutrition, Food and Dietetics. 2010), “non-vegans” can have a deficiency of this vitamin and, in fact, it is very common today when the person does not have good intestinal absorption. Either due to atrophy of the gastric or intestinal mucosa, due to alteration of gastric secretion (gastritis, advanced age, hypochlorhydria …), chronic diarrhea, or habitual use of antacids, alcohol or tobacco.

In January 2019, The Lancet (online medical journal) published an article (Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT – Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems; https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/ PIIS0140-6736 (18) 31788-4 / fulltext) on sustainable diet.

This article proposes a sustainable healthy diet for the planet in order to be able to comply with the Paris agreements and the claims of our youngest activist Greta Thunberg.

This article basically concluded that the healthy diet consists mainly of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and unsaturated oils, includes a low to moderate amount of seafood and poultry, and includes little or no amount of red meat, processed meat, added sugar, flours and refined grains.

“Using several approaches, we find a high level of certainty that global adoption of the reference dietary pattern would provide important health benefits, including a large reduction in total mortality.  This inextricably links human health and environmental sustainability. Scientific objectives for healthy diets and sustainable food systems are integrated into a common framework, the safe operating space for food systems, so that diets beneficial to all (i.e., healthy and environmentally sustainable) can be identified.”

We estimate that after the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and the enormous impact it is having throughout the different global health systems, new scientific articles will be announced next 2021 and 2022 with even more comprehensive and more focused analyses on dietary and environmental changes needed to prevent new pandemics like this in the future.

 

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And it is that the great variety of “fad diets” that currently exist go by naming the ketogenic diet * or keto diet, intermittent fasting, the Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet, the raw food diet, and we cannot forget the popular Paleolithic diet or, more abbreviated, the “paleo diet”.

–The ketogenic diet is a low-carbohydrate, high-fat eating plan that shares many similarities with the Atkins diets and those low in carbohydrates. This diet involves drastically reducing carbohydrates and replacing them with fat. The objective of this diet is to cause a state of ketogenesis, that is, a state in which our body works in an environment with low blood glucose levels and begins to burn fat for energy.

It is effective, but it can also lead to impaired glucose tolerance. Going to a keto diet will bring us benefits, it is true. We will surely lose weight, improve our energy, lower cholesterol and improve glucose levels. But, although everything seems positive, if we do a broader analysis, we discover that not everything is. Although it is true that people who follow a keto diet see their blood glucose levels lower, a certain glucose intolerance also occurs, which limits their ability to tolerate foods rich in carbohydrates such as fruits, tubers, legumes and whole grains. And, because it is not a very sustainable lifestyle (neither privately nor environmentally), the moment carbohydrate consumption increases – a banana, quinoa or French fries – then the liver loses it. It takes longer to efficiently metabolize glucose for energy, resulting in a spike in blood glucose or insulin. Leading to insulin resistance, which could develop into type 2 diabetes and other chronic conditions like heart or kidney disease.

–Intermittent fasting: Rather than a diet, it is a health guideline that consists of abstaining completely or partially from eating for a certain time, before re-eating on a regular basis.

Some studies suggest that this way of eating may offer benefits such as fat loss, better health and longevity. Its advocates claim that an intermittent fasting program is easier to maintain than traditional calorie-controlled diets. The easiest way to fast for 12 hours is to include sleep time in the fast window. For example, a person might choose to fast between 7:00 p.m and 7:00 a.m. He’d have to finish his dinner before 7:00 p.m. and not have breakfast until 7:00 a.m., but most of this time he’d spend it sleeping. This type of daily fasting can be difficult to maintain in the long run.

That’s why, in many cases, complete fasting has become popular for 1 or 2 days a week, known as eat-stop-eat, which involves not eating food for 24 hours at a time. Many people fast from breakfast to breakfast or lunch to lunch.

People who follow this diet plan can drink water, tea, and other calorie-free drinks during the fasting period, but they should return to their normal eating patterns on non-fast days. Eating in this way reduces a person’s total calorie intake, but does not limit the specific foods they can eat.

–The Mediterranean diet: The Mediterranean diet is a type of diet based on the traditional cuisine of the coastal countries of the Mediterranean Sea. Although there is no single definition of the Mediterranean diet, it is usually rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, and olive oil. Meals are prepared around these plant-based foods. Moderate amounts of dairy, poultry and eggs are also critical in the Mediterranean diet, as are shellfish. In contrast, red meat is only eaten occasionally.

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More than a weight loss diet, it’s a healthy style of eating backed by institutions like who (World Health Organization) or the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. In fact, the “new sustainable diet design” to which the previous Lancet article referred is based on this type of diet.

–The DASH diet, which is a diet designed to prevent cardiovascular disease and is low in saturated fat and processed foods with added salt but allows you to eat meat and dairy.

–The “paleo” diet: According to the creators of the paleo diet, popularized by gastroenterologist Walter L. Voegtlin and by the writings of Loren Cordain, an American scientist expert in nutrition and exercise physiology; the paleo diet would be a type of diet based on the idea of ​​resembling as much as possible the way of eating of our ancestors of the Stone Age, before the development of agriculture. These authors postulate that in the Paleolithic our ancestors obtained 55% of their daily calories from animal protein, 15% from fruits, vegetables and seeds, and the rest from fats, especially saturated ones.

The paleo diet shares with philosophies such as raw veganism the idea that our digestive system and our genetics have not had time to adapt to the changes that have occurred since the generalization of agriculture and, more recently, sedentarism.

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Thus, this diet would be based on ingesting “large amounts of protein and fat”, from foods such as meat and fish, and to a lesser extent carbohydrates. According to this dietary philosophy, it is better to avoid dairy, legumes and cereals since the diet of our ancestors was based on meat, fruit, vegetables, fish and shellfish. The main difference between the paleo diet and other healthy diets is the absence of whole grains and legumes, which are considered a good source of fiber, vitamins, and other nutrients. The diet also does not include dairy products, which are good sources of protein and calcium.

This is an example of what you could eat on a typical day if you follow a paleo diet, according to the Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/paleo-diet/art-20111182

Breakfast. Roasted salmon and cantaloupe melon.

Lunch. Roasted lean pork tenderloin and salad (romaine lettuce, carrot, cucumber, tomatoes, walnuts and lemon juice dressing).

Dinner. Baked lean beef tenderloin, steamed broccoli, salad (mixed green leafy vegetables, tomato, avocado, onions, almonds, and lemon juice dressing), and strawberries for dessert.

Snacks An orange, carrot sticks, or celery sticks.

I don’t know about you, but this menu reminds me a lot of the low-calorie diets that doctors prescribed to my mother in the 80s.

On the other hand, the detractors of the paleo diet, affirm that it has its weak points, especially in regard to the consumption of animal protein, since it is recommended to include it in all snacks, between 3 and 5 a day. And this does not agree with the evolutionary logic of the initial proposal since our ancestors could not eat animal protein on a daily basis because they did not have the logistics or the technology to hunt animals so easily. Nor did they have the cooling systems that we have today to preserve it. -Article by Consol Rodríguez in the spanish magazine “Body Mind” –

Other studies suggest that our ancestors, after spending the day collecting and hunting, met at the end of the day to share the food found among all. That is, they practiced prolonged fasts daily during which they made physical effort and only ate once at the end of the day.

–Raw paleo or “pegan”: In the paleo diet, there are trends that defend that food should be eaten raw. It is raw paleo diet, a meeting point with non-vegan raw food.

This trend “pegan”, which comes from paleo + vegan, proposes a much more plant-based paleo diet. For ethical or sustainability reasons, they refuse to consume large amounts of animal protein, although they do include it in small doses, so its name is debatable.

Aside from the fact that these diets may work for weight loss, our question is: Are these diets rich in saturated fat and animal protein the healthiest option?

The big question is: Do these diets really work, being also healthy and ecologically sustainable for the planet?

With regard to the issue of carbohydrates, there are very divergent criteria among research groups.

–There is one sector that argues that they should be avoided.

But if we take into account that in the “Blue Zones” (the areas or countries with the longest population in the world), they do not follow low-carbohydrate diets, perhaps we should increasingly question this sector of researchers.

 

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In fact, long-lived populations with low rates of chronic diseases eat a diet rich in carbohydrates, and low in fat and animal products. -CuerpoMente, article according to dietitian Carla Zaplana.-

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In 2017, in a study published in the Lancet, researchers performed coronary calcification tests on more than 750 indigenous Tsimane from South America, in Bolivia. All the subjects were over 40 years old and ate a diet composed of 72% of the calories from carbohydrates, 14% from fat, and 14% from protein (mostly from rice, corn, cassava, and bananas). The results were shocking since 97% of the people studied did not show signs of arteriosclerosis (accumulation of fat and cholesterol in the arterial walls). In addition, they also had extremely low total cholesterol and LDL (bad cholesterol) levels.

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Although a single study cannot be conclusive, we do need to pay attention to it. What is certain is that it is consistent with many populations around the world that feed on ingredients of plant origin and have low rates of heart disease, such as the Bantus of Central and South America, the natives of New Guinea, some populations of Ecuador and Native Americans of Mexico, as well as the afore mentioned blue zones.

–Among the other researchers, as confirmed in this Reuters study, there are even important detractors of Atkins-type diets rich in fats and proteins of animal origin (today, better known as paleo diets or ketogenic diets); since, according to these authors, they not only overload the elimination organs such as kidneys and liver, but are not even effective in reducing overweight.

“High protein diets were associated with higher body weight.” A national study involving more than 4,000 men and women between the ages of 40 and 59 produced a surprising conclusion in our Atkins-fed society: the thinnest people on earth consume the most carbohydrates. Even more alarming, the people who ate the most protein in their diet were actually the heaviest.

“Without exception, a diet high in complex carbohydrates and plant protein is associated with low body mass,” study leader Linda Van Horn of Northwestern University reported in a conference.

Of course, this does not mean that donuts, French fries, pasta, and white bread will make us lose weight. These refined carbohydrates do not provide the complex sugars that our body needs as a primary source of energy. Only complex carbohydrates found in grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and beans are adequate to meet the body’s energy needs. Most notable is this finding: the more animal protein a person consumed, the greater their weight.

Obviously, muscles are heavy, but don’t think that on a vegan diet, muscles weaken. On the contrary, they become thinner but also more fibrous and with greater resistance.

 

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As famous oncologist at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York and author of “The Wonder Enzyme,” Hiromi Shinya relates in his book: The German doctor Von Bertz, a student of nutritional science, conducted an experiment in Japan where he found that “rickshaw” drivers who ate the traditional Japanese diet of rice, barley, millet, roots of lilies and hardly any food of animal origin could pull these vehicles for four times longer than drivers fed a diet of beef.

In the end, the interesting thing about this whole matter is that we keep the good of all these dietary contributions that, in any case, affect the importance of choosing the best foods for health.

Many people who have opted for a vegan lifestyle out of ideology neglect such an essential aspect as taking care of yourself. They consume products without animal suffering, but nothing natural or healthy, with colorants, flavorings, preservatives and other highly recommended additives.

These diets defend points that are also important to claim, such as:

-Incorporate a good amount of healthy fats.

-Avoid refined and processed foods.

-Choose organic food, not very altered by the methods of agriculture and, if possible, local.

-Eat legume sprouts, tubers and sprouts, an irreplaceable source of healthy energy.

-Physical exercise, especially on an empty stomach, is also one of the keys.

Beyond all these diets, we must not forget that we are not only what we eat, but also what we think, what we feel, how we act, where we live and with what beings we share it.

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The meat intake proposed by the paleo diet, if we all carried it out, is unsustainable worldwide, and no matter how much it insists that it comes from animals raised in the open air and with grass, the ethical position before animal exploitation is irrelevant.

 

SOME IDEAS FOR A PLANT-BASED DIET

MENU Day 1

Breakfast: natural yogurt with red fruits and nuts.

Lunch: Tofu-kale-quinoa salad with vinaigrette.

Dinner: Vegetable and chickpea stew with whole wheat bread.

Mid-morning snack: fruits and nuts.

Mid-afternoon snack: vegetable-based smoothie, such as pumpkin or cucumber.

MENU Day 2

Breakfast: whole wheat toast with avocado puree and tempeh slices.

Lunch: Greek vegetable salad with white beans and vinaigrette.

Dinner: sautéed vegetables with seitan and brown rice.

Mid-morning snack: Whole wheat bread with nut butter.

Mid-afternoon snack: Fruit slices with nuts.

MENU Day 3

Breakfast: scrambled tofu with spinach, tomato and whole wheat bread

Lunch: Pasta cooked with beans, artichokes, kalamata olives, garlic, tomatoes, olive oil and herbs.

Dinner: brown rice with mushrooms.

Mid-morning snack: yogurt of vegetable origin and fruit.

Mid-afternoon snack: Fruit with nuts

MENU Day 4

Breakfast: whole wheat toast with peanut butter and orange wedges.

Lunch: Green sprout salad with quinoa, vegetables, edamame and almonds.

Dinner: Vegetarian burger with whole wheat bread, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, condiments.

Mid-morning snack: Hummus with vegetables

Mid-afternoon snack: fruit slices with nuts

MENU Day 5

Breakfast: vegetable yogurt with banana and sliced ​​almonds

Lunch: roast vegetables with whole grain crackers.

Dinner: Vegan paella with chickpeas and vegetables

Mid-morning snack: fruit and nut smoothie

Mid-afternoon snack: apple slices with tahini

MENU Day 6

Breakfast: Breakfast burrito with corn tortilla, black beans and sauteed vegetables.

Lunch: Greek pita with white beans and cucumber and tomato salad.

Dinner: Sauteed vegetables with tofu and brown rice

Mid-morning snack: peanut butter with banana

Mid-afternoon snack: whole wheat bread and pumpkin or sunflower seeds

MENU Day 7

Breakfast: oatmeal cereals with fruits, plant-based milk and nuts

Lunch: black bean tacos with roasted broccoli

Dinner: Polenta topped with roasted eggplant, mushrooms, beans, and red pepper ragout.

Mid-morning snack: fruit smoothie and nut butter

Mid-afternoon snack: mixed nuts

 

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