Good news for cheese fans: avoiding dairy can do more harm than good

Last year, the total number of vegans worldwide was estimated at about 79 million. A significant segment of the population, you agree, but some might reconsider the plant-based lifestyle after a scientist claimed this week that women who don’t eat enough meat or dairy are putting their health at risk.

Ian Givens, professor of food chain nutrition and director of the Institute for Food, Nutrition and Health at Reading University, went on to say on his statement that women are more at risk for iron, magnesium, iodine, calcium and zinc deficiency than men. Half of women ages 11 to 18 consume below the minimum recommended levels of magnesium and iron, and older female age groups — ages 19 to 64 — are also more at risk, with 27 percent of them also consuming less iron than they should.

While many are turning to veganism or vegetarianism out of environmental concerns, which Givens acknowledged to be valid, he cautioned that the decision to forgo all meat and dairy products should be approached with “prudence” and more attention should be paid. spent, not only how much carbon emissions are produced by a food type, but also the nutrients they provide. Deficiencies in these essential nutrients can affect bone health, especially during menopause, as well as energy levels, a healthy weight, mental health and can even cause hair loss. Simply put, it’s important that you get enough of it.

It’s no secret that following a vegan or vegetarian diet for whatever reason makes it harder to get the right nutrients into your system, but nutritionist Eve Kalinik thinks there’s no need to eat meat and dairy if you can. don’t want to. “Your diet just needs a lot more planning to make sure nutritional needs are met,” she says. “That may require supplementation if you’re following an all-vegetable diet.” Common nutrients that are deficient in plant-based diets include vitamin B12, iron, selenium, calcium, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and sometimes protein — following as inclusive a diet as possible helps “avoid gaps,” she says.

Conversely, consuming meat and dairy, but with few plant foods, also has many pitfalls, just like not eating them can lead to nutritional deficiencies. “There is a huge difference between ultra-processed meats and dairy products and good quality organic grass-fed or free-range meat,” Kalinik says. “Ultra-processed cheeses and sugary yogurts are also very different from traditionally made cheese and live yogurts, which are bursting with fat-soluble vitamins, calcium and protein and can be a natural source of beneficial microbes for gut health.”

The key is undoubtedly balance and quality over quantity. “I think the phrase ‘eat better, eat less’ sums it up,” says Kalinik, who recommends opting for organic, grass-fed or free-range meats and organic full-fat dairy (locally sourced if possible), to reap the rewards of all. nutritional benefits they provide. She also recommends aiming for at least two days a week when you eat a predominantly plant-based or vegetarian diet to ensure you’re getting enough of the many nutrients they provide, while doing your bit for the environment and your own personal health. cost of buying meat.

“Everyone has different needs, but a balanced diet can consist of one to two servings of red meat from grass-fed animals per week, one to two servings of free-range poultry or pork, two to three fish (at least two of which are fatty fish) for two days vegetarian or vegetable, as a rough guideline. For dairy a daily portion of 100g natural living yogurt and/or 50g cheese.”

For committed vegans, her advice is to make planning a focal point of your week. Consume plenty of grains, pulses, and pulses (which, she says, need to be soaked and rinsed to maximize their nutritional potential), and make sure you’re getting enough vitamin B12. “It will either have to be supplemented or consumed through fortified foods, such as a nut-based alternative milk drink,” she says. “These also often contain calcium, which can be tricky to get through on a completely plant-based diet.”

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