As a recently credentialed RD, it is my responsibility to the profession to provide information that is backed by scientific research. Although my registration qualification to provide nutrition advice is backed-up by the Commission on Dietetic Registration registration, we all have the right to provide our opinion when it comes to nutrition, fitness and exercise. However, I find it important that when you provide your opinion on a certain topic related to nutrition, you are careful not to use conclusive words such as "CAN'T", "WILL", "NEVER" as well as negative words like "BAD", "CHEAT", "OFF LIMIT". Telling someone that they "WILL" get cancer if they eat meat or that they "CAN'T" eat bread if they want to lose weight, are not statements that are scientifically proven by research. Sure, they may be research studies available which support the claim, but research is always changing and for most of us, it's really, really hard to keep up with all the research. Plus, we don't function in a laboratory so we must be able to take research with an open mind (and read the entire research study - not just the title) because we live in an ever-changing world.
However, one topic that continues to show great validation is on the topic of plant-based diets. There is a large quantity of information showing that increasing your consumption of fruits and vegetables is beneficial not only for your short and long term health but also for weight loss and maintenance. Rather then telling people that they "CAN'T" eat meat (which I would never do..not to mention that my hubby and family are not vegetarians), I like to suggest to emphasize a plant-based diet in order to incorporate more color into your diet.
Certainly, there are people in our society with food intolerance's and allergies, malabsorption issues as well as cultural food preferences/choices. We must respect one another for being special and unique but we can not assume that consuming well-marketed processed food, will help increase longevity, reduce risk for disease/illness, boost immune system, maximize performance or help with body composition changes. I am finding that the more processed food available to consumers, the less desire there is to eat fruits and veggies. I question the need to have FIBER-marketed granola bars when the produce aisle is just a few rows away from the massive granola-bar aisle. My advice, stop spending time reading food labels as to which granola bar has the most fiber, least amount of ingredients, least amount of sodium, highest amount of protein, least amount of fat, least amount of calories and most about of vitamins and minerals. At 100 calories, 1 medium pear will provide you with 5 grams of fiber and no added ingredients.
On this topic, this makes me so sad as our body relies on the vitamins and minerals from plant-based foods in order to properly function, but people continue to gravitate to processed food. So while we should aim for balance and work on developing a healthy relationship with food, do not forget that a plant-based diet, complemented with whole grains, quality protein, healthy fats and water, is the easiest way to help you feel your best at every moment in life.
In my latest issue of Today's Dietitian August 2011, there was a great news bite on pg 62, titled Vegetarian diet may protect against diverticular disease
As an acute care clinical dietitian, I come across many patient experiencing diverticular disease as well as diverticulitis. Both have to do with pouches (diverticula) in the intestine, becoming inflammed. Although there are several risk factors for divertiuclar disease, it seems as though a low fiber diet may be the culprit of many "tummy" issues, such as bloating, being gassy and feeling "too full", in the normal population. While we prescribe a high fiber diet for our patients with diverticular disease (for diverticulitis we start with a liquid diet, typically clear liquids, and gradually increase fiber when medically feasible), it would be in your favor to aim for the recommended 25-35g of daily fiber to encourage regular bowel movements and overall gastrointestinal health.
Here's the article...enjoy!
Vegetarians are one-third less likely than their meat-eating counterparts to develop diverticular disease, according to a study published on the BMJ website.
Diverticular disease affects the large bowel or colon, and lack of fiber consumption is believed to be its cause. Typical symptoms include painful abdominal cramps, loating, gas, constipation and diarrhea.
Previous research has suggested that a low-fiber diet could lead to diverticular disease and that vegetarians may have a lower risk of developing it compared with meat eaters, but there's little evidence to substantiate this.
Researchers from the Cancer Epidemiology Unity at the University of Oxford examined the link between a vegetarian diet and dietary fiber intake with the risk of diverticular disease. Their findings are based on 47,033 generally health-conscious British adults who were taking part in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition-Oxford study. Of those recruited, 15,459 reported consuming a vegetarian diet.
After an average follow-up time of 11.6 years, there were 812 cases of diverticular disease (806 hospital admissions and six deaths). After adjusting for factors such as smoking, alcohol, and BMI, vegetarians had a lower risk of developing diverticular disease compared with meat eaters.
Furthermore, participants with a relatively high intake of dietary fiber (around 25g/day) had a lower risk of being admitted to the hospital with or dying from diverticular disease compared with those who consumed less than 14g of fiber per day.
Consuming a vegetarian diet and a high intake of dietary fiber are both associated with a lower risk of diverticular disease, according to the authors. They concluded that these findings lend support to the public health recommendations that encourage the consumption of foods high in fiber, such as whole grain breads, whole grain cereals, fruits and vegetables.