Different types of fats
Not all fats are the same. The good fats (mono and poly unsaturated fats) lead to an increase in HDL (good cholesterol) levels, that help collect and dispose excess cholesterol in our blood stream. On the other hand, the bad fats (saturated and trans fats) lead to an increase in LDL (bad cholesterol) levels, that get deposited as plaque on our artery walls causing blockages and associated heart problems.
An excess consumption of bad fats (saturated and trans fats) directly lead to an increased risk of the following diseases:
- Heart diseases: due to the choking of our arteries
- Cancers: by increasing hormonal activity
- Diabetes: saturated fats act as insulin inhibitors, preventing the absorption of sugars in our bloodstream
Our diet and different types of fats
The good fats (mono and poly unsaturated) fats are liquid at room temperatures, and are predominantly found in plant based foods (especially vegetable oils, nuts and seeds).
Saturated fats are solid at room temperatures and derived primarily from animal products. Meat (both red meats & poultry) and Dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurts) are amongst the highest sources of saturated fats.
In addition to a higher proportion of saturated fats, meat and dairy products also contain cholesterol directly, compared to plant based foods that contain no cholesterol. The external consumption of cholesterol, leads to an increase in LDL or bad cholesterol levels.
By replacing animal products for plant based foods, saturated fats are replaced by unsaturated fats, with significant positive health benefits.
What are proteins?
Proteins are chains of amino acids. Of a total 20 amino acids, 11 are manufactured naturally in the body, while the other 9 amino acids have to be obtained via diet (these are called the essential amino acids). On digesting proteins, our bodies break down the long chains of amino acids into single amino acids, which are then used to manufacture new proteins that are used for various vital body functions.
Complete vs incomplete proteins
A food is considered to be a 'complete protein', when it contains all the 9 essential amino acids. While animal food products are typically 'complete proteins', most plant based foods are 'incomplete proteins' since they may have low amounts or be missing one or more of the essential amino acids.
However, since different plant based foods have different compositions of the 9 essential amino acids, a plant based diet is proved to be a 'complete protein diet', since different food items combine to provide all the 9 essential amino acids required by our bodies.
Health issues due to too much protein
Kidney diseases: Most of us consume proteins well in excess of our Recommended Dietary Allowance (especially those who consume animal food products). An over consumption of proteins, leads to an excess build up of nitrogen that needs to be expelled through the urine. This increases the strain on our kidneys that can eventually lead to a permanent loss of kidney function.
Health issues due to the acidic structure of animal proteins
Osteoporosis: Animal proteins have a higher composition of sulphur containing amino acids, that tends to acididy the blood. Our bodies react to the blood acidity, by leeching calcium and other minerals from our bones, to form salt that can neutralise the acidity in the bloodstream and dispel it in urine.This results in a leeching of calcium from the bones, adversely impacting bone mineral density and increasing the risks of fractures, osteoporosis and other bone related problems.
What is lactose intolerance?
Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose (the primary sugar found in milk and dairy products), due to the shortage/absence of the lactase enzyme.
Lactose intolerance is natural
Most adult animals stop producing lactase post weaning, since milk is naturally only meant to be consumed by infants. Lactose intolerance is perfectly natural, since adult animals / humans are not naturally expected to consume milk products. Certain communities have a higher level of lactose intolerance than others - studies have indicated that lactose intolerance is as high as 90% amongst Asians.
Symptoms of lactose intolerance
Key symptoms of lactose intolerance include bloating, pain or cramps, rumbling sounds in the lower belly, gas, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting. These symptoms typically develop within 30-120 minutes of consuming dairy products.
Dietary fiber is found mainly in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and other plant based foods. No animal products contain dietary fiber.
Dietary fiber, also known as roughage or bulk, includes all parts of plant foods that your body can't digest or absorb. Unlike other food components, fiber isn't digested by your body. Instead, it passes relatively intact through your stomach, small intestine, colon and out of your body.
Fiber is commonly classified as soluble (it dissolves in water) or insoluble (it doesn't dissolve.
Soluble fiber: This type of fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like material. It can help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Soluble fiber is found in oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley and psyllium.
Insoluble fiber: This type of fiber promotes the movement of material through your digestive system and increases stool bulk, so it can be of benefit to those who struggle with constipation or irregular stools. Whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans and vegetables, such as cauliflower, green beans and potatoes, are good sources of insoluble fiber.
Benefits of a high fiber diet
- Normalises bowel movements
- Lowers cholesterol levels
- Helps control blood sugar levels
- Helps reduce risk of colon cancer