Diet fads have fluctuated over the years, but a recent trend is a shift from purely weight loss-oriented diet plans to ones that address key health concerns, as well. These types of diets may include Ketogenic, Paleo, Anti-Inflammatory, and a plethora of others that are becoming the ‘it’ plan to follow
At present, the American diet is generally comprised of several meals per week, or day, eaten at restaurants. Beverages include soft drinks and other sugar laden energy drinks and coffee that behave more like desserts in a glass. Most of the food cooked at home is coming from a box, bag, or can. As more generations continue to consume derivations of what has now become known as the S.A.D. (Standard American Diet) it is evident that current disease prevalence rates can be traced back to diets that have paved the way for disease. As a culture, we need to shift back to our roots and simplify our diets to include more wholesome forms of proteins and include a form of protein in every meal. As Thomas Edison stated, “The Doctor of the future will give no medicine but will instruct his patient in the care of the human frame and in the cause and prevention of disease”.
As science becomes more sophisticated and we learn more about the human genome, we can begin to understand how genetics play a crucial role in the individual needs of our diet. In addition, with the combination of the increasing prevalence of comorbidities, the simultaneous presence of two chronic diseases or conditions in a patient, and one can see the need to be evaluated by a professional.
Often, initially, a complete overhaul of one’s diet seems daunting and truly overwhelming. It is crucial to take small steps towards implementing a healthier diet. One change that can reap positive health benefits is to begin to incorporate more plant based proteins into our meals. More and more studies are confirming that diets higher in plant-based foods and replacing some of our animal-based proteins with plant based ones, can reduce cardiovascular disease, hypertension, type II diabetes, obesity, certain types of cancers, and inflammation.
When thinking of protein most people traditionally think of meat, despite a more health conscience community and an increase in educational resources on nutrition. Listed below are several good sources of plant-based proteins:
|Pumpkin seeds||10g per ¼ cup|
|Quinoa (complete)*||8g per 1 cup|
|Hemp seeds (complete)*||5g per 1 Tablespoon|
|Chia seeds (complete)*||2g per 1 Tablespoon|
|Lentils||8.8g per ½ cup|
|Chickpeas||7.25g per ½ cup|
|Almonds||16.5g per ½ cup|
|Spirulina||8g per 2 Tablespoon|
|Broccoli||4g per 1 medium stalk|
|Kale||2g per 1 cup|
* Note: “complete” means that it contains all nine essential amino acids and is thus referred to as a complete protein.
The daily protein recommendation intake varies based on activity but is calculated for a sedentary person to be .8 grams per kilogram of body weight or .36 grams per pound. The necessity for protein is for tissue repair, collagen production, enzymes, hormones, and maintaining and building muscle.
I recommend to patients that when making these kinds of changes that they do so slowly especially if they have been eating like most Americans. The SAD diet is high in sodium, sugar, refined carbohydrates, and unhealthy fats and low in fiber. Initially, modify one meal per day where animal protein is replaced by a plant protein to allow the body time to adjust to the change in meal composition (i.e. more fiber). Over the past few years, I have personally incorporated this change into my diet but prefer to still include animal protein as well. As referenced earlier, there are many facets to consider in choosing the foods we eat. Due to varying nutrient needs by individual, a completes shift in diet should be overseen by a nutritionist. Under the care of a nutritionist, people can receive the oversight and support they need to diet within the confines of their body’s individual requirements—for example, patients may be unaware that they are B12 deficient, iron deficient, require more nutrient support for a condition or medication they take, or lack essential amino acids in their diet.
A great recipe that incorporates a lot of the great plant based proteins mentioned in this article can be found here.