Dr Harriet Holme talks to Dr Orlena about the benefits of a plant based diet. What does the research tell us about the health benefits of a plant based diet? What exactly is a plant based diet? How much meat, eggs and dairy can you eat in a plant based diet? Are meat, eggs and dairy bad for you?
Dr Harriet Holme worked as an academic paediatric doctor. She is a registered nutritionist. She does bespoke nutritional consultancy.
There are many studies that conclude a plant based diet is good for us. Studies vary in size as well as quality.
One large study was recently published in the Lancet. Read the article here.
The PREDIMED study is another landmark piece of research.
It’s clear from the research that fruit and vegetables are good for us.
One question that we haven’t answered is the “fliexitarian” vs “vegan” debate. Is it better to eat a diet full of vegetables that excludes meat, dairy and eggs (a vegan diet)? Or a diet that’s mostly vegetables with a bit of meat, diary and eggs (a “flexitarian” diet)?
The paper in the Lancet advocated a “flexitarian” diet, allowing people to eat some meat, dairy and eggs.
Aside note: The article about creating food from water and bacteria to save the planet.
We know that processed red meats that contain nitrites, increase our risk of cancer.
Following a diet (such as the Med Style Diet) that is low in red meat increases longevity.
There isn’t any evidence to say that white meat and fish are bad for our health.
Oily fish is a good source of omega 3 that’s good for our hearts. It’s recommended that we eat it twice a week.
Related: How to Lead a Heart Healthy Life With Dr Zarrin Sheikh Podcast
It’s tricky to know who to believe!
Dr Harriet Holme suggests that people advocate eating lots of meat as part of a ketogenic diet. The ketogenic diet was developed for children who had bad epilepsy. We don’t yet know what the long term affects of a ketogenic diet is.
Many people find it difficult to stick to a very restrictive diet.
It makes sense that good quality meat is better for us. But, there isn’t actually any evidence to support that.
There isn’t any convincing evidence to say that eggs and dairy are bad for you.
If you choose to exclude them, you need to think about your calcium and iodine levels.
Eggs are a good source of selenium.
There are so many factors to consider when thinking about plant based milks. The impact of production on the environment. (Are bugs eating bees? Does production need lots of water? How does that compare to dairy milk production?)
What about the milk itself? Is it fortified with calcium? Does it have added sugar?
A restricted diet increases your chances of “rebound” and binging. It’s better to find a happy balance that you can maintain.
Making small changes and building on them is great way to create lasting habits.
A flexitarian diet. She eats a plant focused diet with eggs, poultry, fish and dairy. She choses to eat organic meat and dairy. Occasionally she eats red meat (every 6 months.) She drinks some plant milk and some cow’s milk. She likes “oatly” oat milk.
Dr Orlena is a health coach. She helps busy mums go from "I can't lose weight" to feeling fit and fabulous. Find out more about her here.