Is it time to become a Flexitarian?
Many years ago I decided to cut out most of my red meat intake. This happened soon after I was diagnosed with cancer (2008), as red meat aggravated my innards and caused major discomfort. I started to include a lot more lentils, beans and vegetables into my diet. I did still include chicken and very occasionally, fish. I have practised this way of eating ever since, but must admit I do splurge on a bit of beef biltong occasionally, but since discovering chilli chicken biltong, less so.
By Cindy Pivacic.
I was initially confused when someone told me I was a flexitarian. Below is an outline of what that means and the benefits of following a flexitarian lifestyle.
A mostly plant-based flexitarian diet is a way of eating that largely focuses on plant-based foods, while still allowing for some meat and animal products in moderation. This type of diet has become increasingly popular due to its potential health benefits, as well as its positive impact on the environment.
One of the most significant health benefits of a flexitarian diet is its ability to reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Plant-based foods are naturally low in saturated fat and high in fibre, which has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. A flexitarian diet also includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, which are high in vitamins and antioxidants that protect the body against inflammation and oxidative stress.
Another advantage of a flexitarian diet is its potential to aid in weight loss and weight management. A plant-based diet is naturally lower in calories than a diet that includes meat and animal products. Additionally, the high fibre content of plant-based foods can help people feel fuller for longer, which can reduce overall caloric intake. Studies have shown that people who follow a plant-based diet, even part-time, tend to have a lower body mass index (BMI) and a lower risk of obesity.
A flexitarian diet can also promote good gut health. Plant-based foods contain a variety of fibres and prebiotics, which can feed the beneficial bacteria in the gut and improve digestion. A diverse gut microbiome has been linked to a variety of health benefits, including a strengthened immune system, improved mental health, and reduced inflammation.
A flexitarian diet can also improve overall brain health. Plant-based foods contain a variety of nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, that have been linked to improved cognitive function and a reduced risk of brain degenerative diseases. Additionally, a plant-based diet can reduce inflammation throughout the body, including in the brain, which may help protect against mental decline.
Finally, a flexitarian diet can have a positive impact on the environment. Animal agriculture is a substantial contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation, among other environmental issues. By reducing the amount of meat and animal products consumed, a flexitarian diet can help reduce an individual’s carbon footprint and support sustainable agriculture. The 8 best plant-based meat alternatives – ProVeg South Africa
Final Note: A mostly plant-based flexitarian diet can have a wide range of health benefits for individuals, including a reduced risk of chronic diseases, weight management, improved gut and brain health, and a positive impact on the environment. Incorporating more plant-based foods into your diet, even if you still consume meat and animal products in moderation, can be a simple and effective way to improve your overall health and well-being. Something worth considering!
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Disclaimer: The information in this article is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure, and is not a substitute for professional consultation with a health professional.
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