Should I go Vegan to reduce disease Risk?


Adopting healthy eating habits can be tricky in this day and age. It’s also boring. We hear the same old advice to reduce alcohol, saturated fat and sugar intake. Surely incorporating super foods, raw ingredients, or even following a vegan diet would be more exciting?

A vegan diet of predominantly chickpeas, kidney beans, fortified soy products, fruits, vegetables and nuts may offer several heath advantages. With higher intakes of fibre, fruits and vegetables, complex carbohydrates and lower intakes of saturated fats, it may help with weight management and subsequently reduce risk of developing disease (e.g. heart disease, diabetes, cancer). A recent study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine collated and analysed a number of high quality studies on vegetarian diets and weight loss. There appeared to be significant benefits on weight reduction compared to non-vegetarian diets.

Adopting vegetarian or vegan diets are suitable for every stage of life, as long as they are well planned. Vegetarians and vegans who do not plan appropriately may lack vital protein sources and vitamins putting themselves and family at risk. Vegan diets (more restrictive than vegetarian) may also lead to insufficient Vitamin B12, Calcium, Zinc and occasionally Riboflavin intake.

Over the last 10 years, wellness bloggers, magazines & the media have been endorsing the benefits of certain novel diets and foods. The problem is that food bloggers and nutritionists, unlike Dietitians, are not regulated and can sometimes endorse the wrong advice. It is therefore vital to obtain the correct evidenced based information from registered Dietitians who are the only qualified health professionals that assess, diagnose and treat diet and nutrition problems.

Incorporating novel foods ways of eating into our lives seems an exciting way to improve health. However, if aiming to reduce weight, improve your health and reduce your risk of disease there are many ways to achieve this, all of which involve eating less or at least expending more energy than you take in.

Becoming a vegan is usually a lifestyle choice rather a diet – one that people make for many reasons.  It is certainly not required to lose weight or reduce risk of chronic disease.

Katherine Kimber

Katherine graduated from King's College University of London achieving a First Class Honours in Bsc Nutrition and Dietetics. Her experience extends to a wide range of clinical settings, in both the community and hospitals, across a variety of patient groups, as far afield as Australia. She is currently working as a Specialist Renal Dietitian in Barts Health NHS Trust, and is also registered as a Freelance Dietitian based at The Clockhouse, in Epsom, Surrey. She offers advice on healthy eating, weight management and type 2 diabetes, oral nutrition support as well as a range of other diseases. Please enquire for further information.

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