How going Vegan is healthier
A little over 2 weeks ago, I was invited to the Fry’s Family Food Company’s Heart Health Month event, held at Ashers Farm Sanctuary.
What a great place to see farm rescues. I didn’t even know places like this existed! I had just always assumed that all farm animals eventually get sold for food.
Not only did we get treated to a tour of the sanctuary, but Fry’s catered the event. I was so surprised to learn that the “meat” we were eating, was in fact, not meat at all AND it was super delicious.
Dr Paul Palmer was the guest speaker and gave us so much information on how going vegan is healthier for you, that it has taken me some time to process it, and I’m still not sure I’ve processed it all.
I walked away with 4 key things:
1. An understanding why the Banting diet hasn’t been working for me.
2. An better understanding of the cause of high cholesterol and how the body manufactures and processes it.
3. Why a plant based diet is healthier than an omnivorous diet.
4. The need to, at least, try the vegan diet for 3 months.
1. The Banting diet is not for me
While the Banting diet works wonders for some, I was not one of those people. I followed the Banting diet very strictly and while I did loose weight, the loss of weight only lasted about 6 months. My body went into crisis with high acidity that can be very dangerous. I don’t want to go, even remotely, back to the danger zone of ketoacidosis.
2. Understanding Cholesterol
Dr Paul Palmer explained that the liver produces cholesterol and by ingesting meat products, we are adding more cholesterol into our systems. My cholesterol is currently sitting at 6, 3.7 is the goal and I’m clearly nearly double over what is healthy.
Cholesterol has four primary functions, without which we could not survive, these are:
* contributing to the structure of cell walls
* making up digestive bile acids in the intestine
* allowing the body to produce vitamin D
* enabling the body to make certain hormones
Cholesterol is both good and bad. At normal levels, it is an essential substance for the body. However, if concentrations in the blood get too high, it becomes a silent danger that puts people at risk of heart attack.
Cholesterol is an essential substance that is produced by the body but is also ingested from animal-derived foods.
The greatest risk factors for high cholesterol are modifiable lifestyle choices – diet and exercise.
Having high cholesterol does not usually produce any symptoms.
High cholesterol is a significant risk factor for coronary heart disease and a cause of heart attacks. A build-up of cholesterol is part of the process that narrows arteries, called atherosclerosis, in which plaques form and cause restriction of blood flow.
Reducing intake of fat in the diet helps manage cholesterol levels. In particular, it is helpful to limit foods that contain:
* Cholesterol – from animal foods, meat, and cheese.
* Saturated fat – found in some meats, dairy products, chocolate, baked goods, deep-fried, and processed foods.
* Trans fats – found in some fried and processed foods.
Being overweight or obese can also lead to higher blood LDL levels. Genetics can contribute to high cholesterol – very high LDL levels are found in the inherited condition familial hypercholesterolemia.
Abnormal cholesterol levels can also arise due to other conditions, including:
* liver or kidney disease
* polycystic ovary syndrome
* pregnancy and other conditions that increase levels of female hormones
* underactive thyroid gland
* drugs that increase LDL cholesterol and decrease HDL cholesterol (progestins, anabolic steroids, and corticosteroids)
3. Fact: Plant based eating is healthier
Let’s compare a meat blend versus a plant blend head to head – the plant blend includes equal parts of tomatoes, spinach, lima beans, peas and potatoes, and the meat blend is equal parts beef, pork and turkey. The plant blend contains no cholesterol and virtually no fat – the meat blend may have more protein, but remember that the protein from meat and dairy has more sulphur amino acids (methionine), so this is not a positive thing. The plant blend actually contains Beta-carotine, fibre and Vit. C, where the meat blend has none at all – and the plant blend also contains more folate.
If you look at nutrients like iron, calcium and magnesium, the plant blend has way more than the meat blend, and the iron found in meat is actually carcinogenic. So the nutrients that people claim are essential are in fact detrimental to human health. The Heme Iron in animal foods has been shown to cause cancer and the cholesterol and saturated and trans fats cause heart disease and diabetes. It is clear that the most important nutrients are actually found in plant foods.
Vegans are actually better at getting nutrients! Vegans are commonly low in three nutrients; calcium, iodine and Vit B12; but omnivores (meat eaters) are inclined to be low in eight nutrients, including calcium, iodine and Vit B12, as well as fibre, folate, magnesium, Vit C and Vit E. Calcium deficiency is not a ‘vegan only’ issue. [Source]
Here are a few things to keep in mind if you want your heart ticking for longer:
1. Focus on plant protein over animal-based protein
Canadian research shows that plant protein – and soy protein in particular – can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. In fact, meta-analysis found that replacing animal protein with plant protein decreased bad cholesterol in the body by 4%. Plant-derivative that isoflavones naturally present in soybeans also have a few coronary benefits themselves. It’s easy to make the switch without feeling like you’re missing out on Braai Day by replacing the meat with a plant-based meat alternative from Fry’s – Their products are high in protein, non-GMO, free from cholesterol and lower in saturated fat, making it a smart heart food choice. My favourite is the Traditional Burger basted in my marinade of choice!
2. Colourful fruits and veggies
A plant-based diet rich in colourful fruits and vegetables mean more vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and phytonutrients– all of which are great for keeping those arteries healthy and elastic. Consuming more than five servings of vegetables and fruits a day has actually been associated with a decreased risk of heart disease and strokes.
3. Fill up on those whole grains
Research shows a link between consuming whole grains as part of a low-fat diet and a reduced risk of heart disease. People who consume three or more servings of whole grain foods per day have a 20-30% lower risk of developing heart disease compared to those who aren’t about that whole grain life. The benefits of whole grains extend beyond their Fibre content. They are packed with healthy nutrients, and the synergistic effect of B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, phosphorus, phytoestrogens and phenolic compounds all together protect us from chronic disease. Types of whole grains to include are: Whole-wheat seeded bread, oats, brown rice, rye bread, barley, wild brown rice, buckwheat, bulgur (cracked wheat), millet, quinoa, whole kernel corn & legumes including baked beans, kidney beans, other dried beans (home cooked or canned), lentils, split peas and chickpeas.
4. Select your fat sources wisely
Saturated fats like those found in animal products increase your risk of heart disease. Replacing them instead with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats like avocado, olive oil and nuts is therefore a sure way to protect that crucial beating organ in your body. Fatty acids like Omega 3 (which includes: chia seeds, flaxseeds, soybean, hemp seed as well as leafy greens) are also something you should add to your diet – they help decrease blood clotting and act as a natural anti-inflammatory.
4. Vegan trial period
I’m doing this on my own. The Hubby and the kids will not be joining me on my vegan journey. He isn’t convinced is the best thing to do.
Anyway, I’ll be doing this strictly from 1 October. I’ve already bought all our groceries for the month, and trying to phase out animal products is next to impossible at the moment. I’ll be cooking the same for my family, but I’ll be adding lentils, beans and Fry’s protein replacements to my daily meals. I want to do this for 3 months to see if it is really beneficial for my health. My cholesterol doubled when I was Banting and by cutting out all animal, proteins, fats and oils from my diet to start off with, I’m hoping this will get it back to normal, or at least start the process.
I’ll be going to another Vitality Check at the end of January 2019 to see what my cholesterol has done. Based on those results, I will make the big decision to either continue on the Vegan “bandwagon” or go back to an omnivorous diet.
My main reason for going Vegan is to reset my system and get my health back under control. I’ve stagnated on the banting diet, not loosing any more weight in many months and constantly feeling nausious after eating. I definitely think its the fat since it went away when I stopped the high fat portion of the banting diet. My problem now, is that I have very low energy, I struggle to concentrate and need a lot more sleep than I have in a very long time. I’m hoping that by following a Vegan diet, that it will change.
Only time will tell. Watch this space.
Celebrate Heart Smart Eating with The Fry Family Food Co.
September is world Heart Health Awareness Month and Heritage Month in South Africa. To celebrate and bring awareness around how a plant-based diet is good for your heart, better for the planet and for animals around the world, The Fry Family Food Co. is hosting the biggest meat-free braai and green market, while raising funds for animal sanctuary, Asher’s Farm Animal Sanctuary. The event is on the 22nd of September at Ennis Garden Center, starting at 10am.
Will you join Fry’s at our Love Your Heart Braai Day and Market: JHB?
Expect to be inspired! Join Fry’s to try their latest new burger and a fun and interactive green market, featuring local food, drink and lifestyle vendors and live music! The braai day is kid-friendly too.
Date: 22nd September
Time: 10am – 3pm
Location: Ennis Garden Center, Cnr Christiaan De Wet Rd, 1724 Honeydew, Gauteng [MAP]
Entrance: R20 and available through Quicket (all proceeds go to Asher’s Farm Animal Sanctuary)
Please present your entrance ticket to claim your free Fry’s burger.
I’m looking forward to seeing you there!