EVIDENCE BASED NUTRITION

Written by Henry Lau 
Qualified Nutritionist and ISAK Accredited Anthropometrist

EVIDENCE BASED NUTRITION

Written by Henry Lau 
Qualified Nutritionist and ISAK Accredited Anthropometrist

Top Health Benefits of A Plant Based Diet: What we know, What we don’t know.

Plant based diets have been widely promoted for many reasons ranging from weight loss, health benefits and energy.

It is important to consider which health benefits are true or just hearsay.

Here we discuss the top health benefits of following a plant base diet and if it will be relevant to you.

Plant Base Foods Supports A Healthy Heart

There is a tremendous amount of evidence that support the benefit to cardiovascular health with plant base foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, wholegrains, coffee and tea.

Studies have also showed that vegetarian diets can lower blood pressure, total and LDL cholesterol.

There is also compelling evidence linking red and processed meats to higher risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

However, eliminating all animal and animal-based food products may offer less protection for CV health.

For example, the same study had also found that a vegetarian diet can lower your HDL cholesterol which is thought to be protective of heart disease.

Furthermore, all animal food products aren’t inherently “worse” and not all plant base foods are “better” as commonly portrayed in the media. Different types of fats in the diet may have opposing effects on cardiovascular health.

Saturated fats, the type you find mainly in animal foods (e.g. meat and dairy), may have a role increasing CVD risk but can also be found in plant sources like coconut oil.

On the other hand, polyunsaturated fats (PUFA’s) may help lower risk and these can come from plant base foods (e.g. vegetables, nuts) and fish (e.g. salmon, oily fish).

Summary:

Consuming more fruit, vegetables and polyunsaturated fatty acids from plant sources may help lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Reducing the intake of red meat, processed meat and dairy sources high in saturated fats may also lower your risk of CVD but completely eliminating all meats and animal products maybe counter productive.

Consuming More Plant Based Foods Promote Gut Health

A diet that’s predominantly more plant base appears to benefit health by promoting the growth of a diverse and stable microbial system in your gut.

Consuming more fibre, particularly non-digestible carbohydrates found exclusively in plants, can lead to rapid changes in the composition of the gut ecosystem.

Which in turn, could influence the relative amounts of different short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) produced. This may improve immunity against pathogens and can have an anti-inflammatory effect.

Similarly, polyphenols are also abundant in a plant base diet and may increase Bifodobacterium and Lactobacillus, aiding this process.

Interestingly, there is some emerging evidence that many of the positive effects aren’t just limited to the gut.

For instance, diseases such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis (forms of inflammatory bowel disease) are characterised by inflammation of the gut.

If indeed the diet and the resulting changes to the gut ecosystem underlie these diseases, there could be enormous potential for correction or prevention through the diet through plant derived foods.

However, it is still currently unclear if an unhealthy gut might contribute or result from the development of diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis (characterised by low Bifodobacteria and Bacteroides species) and inflammatory bowel disease.

Summary

A plant based diet high in fibre, particularly non-digestible carbohydrates, plays an important role in our gut ecosystem (the bacteria that lives in our gut).

This in turn could potentially have implication in diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or IBD.

Plant Based Foods, Gut Health And Weight Gain.

One of the main benefits of following a plant based diet is the reduction of energy dense foods.

Foods such as red and processed meat, cheese, high fat dairy or animal fat is very calorie dense. Processed foods can often have additional sugar and oil added to improve the taste.

On the other hand, whole plant-derived foods generally are less processed, can be more satiating and have a lot less calories in them.

Quite interestingly, there is an emerging theory that suggests excessive weight gain can be linked to your gut bacteria.

Currently, commercial supplementation of lactic acid bacteria is used to stimulate weight gain in chicken and pigs. Some animal studies go on to suggests the condition can be transmitted through fecal transplantation, perhaps in humans.

However, it appears that only some lactic acid bacteria cause weight gain while others do not. It can also depend on the strain of bacteria.

This area of research is largely limited to animals which is vastly different to humans. There is yet to be concrete evidence supporting weight loss through modifying the gut bacteria through a plant based diet.

Summary

Plant derived foods are generally less energy dense and minimally processed.

The higher fibre content, particularly non-digestible carbohydrates, can also aid satiety and the feeling fullness.

There is an emerging area of research looking at the relationship between gut bacteria and weight gain. However, it is a novel area and no concrete conclusions can be made.

The Bottom Line

Consuming more fruit, vegetables and polyunsaturated fatty acids from plant sources may help lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Non-digestible carbohydrates in particular, plays an important role in our gut ecosystem (the bacteria that lives in our gut).

This in turn could potentially aid prevention of diseases such as Crohn’s Disease, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bower disease. However, much more research is needed before any concrete recommendation can be givien.

Reducing the intake of red meat, processed meat and dairy sources high in saturated fats may also lower your risk of CVD but completely eliminating these sources may be less protective.

DISCOVER WHAT FOOD IS RIGHT FOR YOU

A custom built quiz designed to help you find out what foods you should be eating.

Discover What Food Is Right For You With This Simple Quiz

Everyone is different…

… we’re different in height, weight, gender, ethnicity, body shape, size, food preference, in our situation, goals, motivation, time & food cravings.

There is an endless amount of different types of diets and it makes it very difficult to decide what is right for you.

That’s why I developed this simple 30 Second Quiz, designed to help you discover EXACTLY what food is right for you…

… and the best part is, you can get started right here, right now.

Take The Free Quiz Here

Henry Lau – Qualified Nutritionist

How To Discover What Food Is Right For You

Everyone is different…

… we’re different in height, weight, gender, ethnicity, body shape, size, food preference, in our situation, goals, motivation, time & food cravings.

There is an endless amount of different types of diets and it makes it very difficult to decide what is right for you.

That’s why I developed this simple 30 Second Quiz, designed to help you discover EXACTLY what food is right for you…

… and the best part is, you can get started right here, right now.

Take The Free Quiz

[ EVIDENCE BASED ] Discover What Food Is Right For You With This Simple 30 Second Quiz

Henry Lau – Qualified Nutritionist

Discover What Food Is Right For You

Everyone is different…

… we’re different in height, weight, gender, ethnicity, body shape, size, food preference, in our situation, goals, motivation, time & food cravings.

There is an endless amount of different types of diets and it makes it very difficult to decide what is right for you.

That’s why I developed this simple 30 Second Quiz, designed to help you discover EXACTLY what food is right for you…

… and the best part is, you can get started right here, right now.

Take The Free Quiz

[ EVIDENCE BASED ] Discover What Food Is Right For You With This Simple Quiz

Read Next:

The Ultimate 2020 Guide To A Plant Based Diet

Best Way To Follow A Plant Based Diet: How to start.

Top 3 Problems With Plant Based Diets: How To Overcome Them.

The Ultmate 2020 Guide To A Plant Based Diet

Best Way To Follow A Plant Based Diet: How to start.

Top 3 Problems With Plant Based Diets: How To Overcome Them.