Diet / 2 March 2019, 12:30pm / Viwe Ndongeni-Ntlebi
Avid coffee drinkers will tell you that opinions on whether their beverage of choice is good or bad for them wax and wane on a continual basis.
So wishy-washy is the constant stream of studies on various foods and beverages that consumers seem to have stopped paying attention.
In Canada, a new food guide causing a splash is a drastic departure from food guides of the past. It urges Canadians to adopt a mostly plant-based diet, to drink water instead of milk, and to worry less about daily servings of nutrients and specific portion sizes and more about cooking meals at home and eating with family and friends.
How much is known about this plant-based diet and how is it better than other diets?
A local registered dietitian, Jessica Kotlowitz, explains a plant-based diet as a diet that is made up of predominantly plant foods such as vegetables, grains, legumes, soya products, fruits, nuts and seeds. Animal foods such as meat, chicken, fish, eggs, cheese, and milk are kept to a minimum or excluded all together. Plant-based diets have been proven to help with weight loss, to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, lower risk of certain cancers and prevent and treat heart disease and diabetes.
Kotlowitz says the popularity of this eating plan may be attributed to social media.
“Millennials are becoming increasingly environmentally conscious and are leading the way in conscious consumerism, especially with regards to food production,” says Kotlowitz.
While many are leading healthier lifestyles, milk may still be a problem. Humans are the only species that drink milk beyond the infancy stage - the new guide suggests we avoid milk altogether.
According to a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, cow’s milk contains on average about three times the amount of protein than human milk does, which creates metabolic disturbances in humans that have detrimental bone health consequences.
In the US the federal government banned the sale of raw milk across state lines nearly three decades ago because it poses a threat to public health.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association all strongly advise people not to drink it. With so many diets available people are most likely to choose one that doesn’t require them to count calories with every bite.
Experts say counting calories and limiting your intake can be effective to prevent weight gain or lose weight, as long as you manage to stick to it.
Lots of apps and websites are available to simplify the process by providing quick and easy ways to log the food you eat.
There is also a growing trend of preparing your own meals at home and growing your own produce.
Sally-Ann Creed, a functional integrative national therapist, says if you want to be healthy, you have to learn to cook.
“Cooking from scratch is one of the best ways to improve your health and avoid the additives and harmful substance added to food today,” she advises.