The first article introduced you to the paleolithic, ketogenic and modified Atkins diets. If you haven’t read it yet, CLICK HERE. In this second article, you will read about the Mediterranean, vegetarian and vegan diets.
First, let me remind you that the goal in choosing a way of eating is:
Have health and pleasure sitting at the same table with a common objective of making you feel great, energized physically and mentally!
The Mediterranean diet
This nutrition choice is more of a lifestyle choice. Also called Cretan diet, it is inspired by the people who live around the Mediterranean.
Seven principles of the Omega Plan of the Mediterranean lifestyle:
1. Eat foods that are rich in Omega-3s (fatty fish, nuts, seeds and oils). Omega-3 supplements.
2. Use monounsaturated oils: olive and canola oils.
3. Eat at least seven portions of fruits and vegetables every day.
4. Eat more plant-based proteins such as peas, beans and nuts.
5. Avoid saturated fats by choosing lean meat sources and opting for dairy products that are low in fats.
6. Avoid oils that are rich in Omega-6s: sunflower, corn, safflower, grapeseed and soya oils.
7. Reduce the intake of trans fatty acids: margarine and other solid vegetable fats: hydrogenated oils, commercial pastries, fried products, fast food and processed foods.
Garlic, onion, spices and herbs are very commonly used while cooking. A moderate consumption of red wine is accepted. As for sweets, they should be consumed sparingly. Whole grain products are included in this diet. Sheep yogurt and especially sheep cheese are recommended, but milk isn’t.
The Omega Plan is varied and easy to follow. It is known to protect the cardiovascular system, regulate the proliferation of cancer cells, normalize your metabolism (which defeats the X-syndrome, obesity and diabetes), balance your mood, facilitate neuronal communications and balance your immune system.
Ref : Le Régime Oméga 3 – A. Simopoulos – J. Robinson – M. de Lorgeril – P. Salen, 2004
Vegetarian and vegan diets, veganism
The vegetarian diet refers to a type of diet that excludes animal meats.
There are, however, a few variations:
Lacto-ovo-vegetarianism: consumption of animal products is permitted, such as dairy products, eggs and honey.
Lacto-vegetarianism: dairy products are accepted, but eggs are not.
Semi-vegetarianism: fish and seafood are part of the menu. In fact, this approach is similar to the Mediterranean diet.
The vegan diet or “strict vegetarianism” only includes plant-based foods.
It’s the same for veganism, but veganism expands further into a lifestyle rather than just a way of eating. All products that come from animals are excluded: wool, leather, cosmetic products that are tested on animals, etc.
These approaches bring together people who seek to protect their environment as much as their health.
One of the challenges with these diets is consuming too many carbohydrates. Hence the importance of prioritising foods with a low/medium glycemic index that are rich in fibers.
What about anti-nutrients?
Phytic acid: it is found in the thin shell around seeds, grains and legumes.
It impedes the assimilation of many minerals and trace elements: calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, etc.
Phytic acid is said to be the # 1 enemy of vegetarians and vegans.
Excess phytic acid increases acidity and inflammation.
Solution: soaking in purified water for 4 to 12 hours before cooking can neutralize part of the phytic acid by activating the germination process.
Fermentation also helps to neutralize a large part of the phytic acid. Sourdough bread is a great example of this.
Lectins: they are present everywhere in the plant kingdom, especially in cereals (wheat and grasses family), legumes (beans, soybeans, lentils), peanuts and vegetables of the Solanaceae family (eggplants, potatoes, tomatoes and peppers).
Lectins are known to cause inflammation so if they are consumed in large quantities, they can damage the gastrointestinal mucosa and have repercussions on your health.
Solution: soaking and germinating your grains and legumes before cooking them could reduce the dangers of lectins. Do not use a slow cooker to cook your legumes and grains, as their low temperature increases the lectin content. Germination and fermentation greatly reduce the lectin content of the foods that are otherwise high in lectins. Breads that are made from sprouted grains are much easier to digest.
Plant-based diets rich in carbohydrates VS plant-based diets rich in live, colorful, nutritious foods.
A vegetarian or vegan person who only eats pizzas, pasta, rice, sandwiches, cereals ... will not experience any of the health benefits of these diets. They might actually see a decline in their health.
Risk of deficiencies of a plant-based diet: the most common deficiencies are those of iron, zinc and vitamin B12. Supplementation will easily mitigate this risk.
If the digestion of legumes, cruciferous (broccoli, cabbage, etc.) or sulfur foods (garlic, onion) causes you bloating, gas or abdominal pain, you would benefit from adding to your meals a vegetarian enzyme formula that includes all the different types of enzymes, particularly good amounts of cellulases and hemicellulases. These enzymes are made by the bacteria in your gut, but your gut microbiota may not be harboring them in sufficient quantities.
Before making the switch to a plant-based diet, do your research! The market is full of recipe books and cooking classes.
… to be continued! Next article: intermittent fasting.
By Lise Guénette, ND.A.
Member of l'Association des naturopathes agréés du Québec
TAU wants to be your partner in turning your health around. At TAU, we are attentive to your needs. TAU will accompany you in your approach and you will discover a variety of products and health food sources. Moreover, in TAU, you can still enjoy the sound advice of our naturopaths and our natural health counselors.