In recent years we are learning more and more about the benefits of a healthy and stricter diet. We now know more than ever the detrimental impact of pesticides, chemicals, and non-organic food. And clinical studies have proven that certain fats are bad for our hearts, and other fats are healthy. It can often be overwhelming when trying to work out which healthy eating regime is best for you. What we can be sure of is that certain foods raise the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, some cancers, and diabetes. So if you are interested in finding out what each popular eating regime actually means, read on to find out more. It may be that you want to adopt one of these strategies.
But even if you don’t, it will certainly help when you are planning a dinner and one of your guest’s lets you know they are pescatarian or Paleo!
A Paleo diet is probably one of the most interesting kids on the block. Eating paleo means harking back to the old days and eating like humans used to. And when we say the old days, we mean way back when to the age of the cavemen! It is based on the belief that if you can hunt it or find it in its natural landscape (the supermarket doesn’t count) then you can put it on your plate. So if you are following Paleo you will be eating lots of meats, leafy greens, nuts, fish, and seeds. What you certainly won’t be including in your diet is sugar, cereal or fizzy candy. Or any candy for that matter. Unless you know of an all natural candy growing tree. The idea is to go back to the way of eating that our ancestors found beneficial. As hunter-gatherers, they would not even have heard of jam donuts, candy cane or Oreos. Back then our ancestors were athletic, agile and lean. Now we are seeing so many more people with early onset diabetes and heart disease and with waistlines expanding and muscle mass being lost. So surely it makes sense to try it!
Paleo believes that we have become reliant on caffeine, sugar and farming foods to get us through the day. But there is absolutely no reason to suggest that we can’t thrive by eating meat, vegetables, and fruit instead. PaleoHacks has a list of what is considered viable on this regime and what isn’t. So expect to see lots of delicious fish, poultry, eggs, nuts and seeds. And be prepared to eliminate refined sugars, dairy, grains and all processed foods. The Paleo diet isn’t there for losing weight. Although there is no doubt that if you eliminate sugars and processed foods that you will indeed see a decrease in the kilos. The benefits of a Paleo diet lay in its ability to create healthier cells, more muscle, less fat and better digestion. As vegetables are a huge part of the regime, you will be getting a big fix of all your essential vitamins and nutrients. And many on the Paleo diet have said that it reduces allergies and inflammation and gives them more energy and vitality. By limiting your carbs and choosing healthy fats, you reduce your risk of diseases and shrink your fat cells in the process.
Just what is a pescatarian? It is, in fact, someone that has chosen to eliminate all animal flesh and meats from their diet with the exception of fish and seafood. Many people become a pescatarian before committing to becoming a full vegetarian. Many people choose to live as a pescatarian because they are aware of animal cruelty and also because they want a healthier diet. They want to eliminate meat from their diet, but they still believe that a certain amount of fish is the healthiest option. Fish is jam packed with Omega-3 fatty acids, and clinical studies have shown it is essential for good health. A person who consumes fish is not a vegetarian, hence why the word pescatarian is there! Some pescatarians eat eggs and dairy products while others choose to abstain completely. There’s no military force at hand here. You can do what feels right for you.
Choosing pescatarian over vegetarian means you will not fall prey to a Vitamin B-12 deficiency or an iron deficiency. Both of these deficiencies can in fact be a problem for some vegetarians. The pescatarian diet contains a high amount of fiber which is essential for good health. Many pescatarians believe that meat contains pesticides and chemicals that can be harmful to our body. And they get all the iron they need from the fish, fruits, and vegetables they consume. A pescatarian diet is also environmentally friendly. Farming meat uses up gallons of water at a time and also leads to deforestation. So if you care about healthy living and environmental causes, a pescatarian diet could be the one for you.
Vegetarians abstain from eating all meats, fish, and seafood. Some vegetarians choose to eat other animal products, but some also omit all dairy and eggs too. A Lacto-Ovo vegetarian is one that still eats dairy products and eggs and is the most common in this regime. A Lacto-vegetarian eats dairy products but does not eat eggs. And a vegan does not eat any dairy products at all, including eggs. A vegetarian diet consists of a lot of vegetables, fruits, grains, and nuts. So think of anything that comes from plants. Many vegetarians become so because of environmental and animal cruelty factors. They also believe that a diet rich in vegetables and fruits is far healthier than one that includes meat and fish.
Vegetarian diets tend to be low in fat and cholesterol so are very heart-friendly. Other people are vegetarians due to religious reasons too. A vegan will not eat any products derived from animals, so not only does that include eggs and dairy but also some wines, honey, and white sugar. Vegans have a diet rich in grains, beans, and legumes. They love vegetables and fruit and can now also enjoy vegan burgers, vegan ice-cream, and vegan cheese too. Those who are trying to become vegan may at first become vegetarian before making the leap to omitting all dairy and eggs too.
A vegan diet is also often known as a plant-based diet. Benefits of becoming a vegan include a reduction in saturated fats and an influx of healthy antioxidants. Too many saturated fats are horrific for your cardiovascular health. Whereas including a lot of antioxidants in your diet is extremely beneficial. Becoming a vegetarian or vegan can help with Type 2 diabetes, cholesterol, heart health, arthritis, osteoporosis and some cancers. It can also lead to weight loss, glowing skin, increased energy and prevent allergies and migraines. It is not a diet that everyone believes in or even a diet that everyone can adopt.
There are both benefits and side effects to going vegetarian/vegan, so do in-depth research before committing. However, there is also nothing to say that you cannot become a part-time vegetarian/vegan. Even choosing to omit meat and dairy three/four days a week can be extremely beneficial for your health. And as said before, there is no one policing what you can and cannot do!
And our last regime is a shout at to those that choose a fully raw diet. Bemused? Let’s find out exactly what it means. A fully raw diet follows the principle of only eating unrefined plant-based fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, nuts, and seeds. These foods are then always eaten in their natural state, with no cooking or steaming involved. The raw food diet is rich in avocado, seeds, and nuts. There is much debate as to whether a fully raw diet is sustainable for a long period of time.
However, raw food eaters also tell us that there are no essential nutrients found in meats and dairy that cannot be found in fruits and vegetables. The benefits of a fully raw diet include the fact that you are not digesting any foods that can be toxic or are loaded with chemicals or pesticides. Raw diets offer a way to cleanse the body of toxins and let it heal naturally. Many people go on a raw diet for one week of the month instead of adopting it for a lifetime. Eating a raw diet takes time, learning and patience. There are both risks and benefits to going fully raw, so it’s completely your own lifestyle choice. But just what are the benefits?
For starters, better digestion, a reduction in inflammation and optimal liver function. A raw food diet can also significantly lower body weight and increase energy. This diet can also help cure headaches, allergies, fatigue and muscular pain. However, some also believe that cooking food such as tomatoes release essential lycopene that is beneficial for our health. There are also concerns that those on a raw food diet miss out on nutrients such as iron, zinc, calcium and B-12. All food regimes have both benefits and disadvantages. But at the end of the day, any ways that you are eliminating so many sugars, toxins and chemicals in your diet can only be a good thing. So there is no harm in trying these different approaches to see if they do have some super benefits to your own health.