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Game Changing Plant Based Diets

Game Changing Plant Based Diets

Megan Garner | February 1, 2020

With all the buzz surrounding The Game Changers movie. Many people are questioning consuming meat and dairy and adopting plant based diets in the name of health. With this in mind let’s take a closer look into plant based diets and see if they are as healthy as The Game Changers make them out to be. In case you haven’t seen it yet, the Game Changers movie is available to watch on Netflix.

What IS a Plant-Based Diet? 

A plant based diet avoids animal products and foods made from animal products.

People have many reasons for choosing to follow a plant-based diet. Some reasons include health, allergies, the environment and animal welfare. I recommend a whole foods plant based diet, which means eating whole foods in their natural state.

Is a plant based diet nutritionally adequate? 

Research that has assessed the overall dietary intakes and nutritional status of plant based diets provides reassurance that well-planned vegan diets supply adequate nutrition (Davis & Melina, 2014). 

Generally, they contain greater amounts of iron, folate, thiamine, magnesium, potassium, manganese, fibre, beta-carotene, and vitamins B6, C and E than non-plant based diets (Davis & Melina, 2014).

However, they may contain lower amounts of zinc, iodine, calcium, selenium, riboflavin, and vitamins B12 and D. It is important that people following a plant based diet include reliable sources of these nutrients (Davis & Melina, 2014).

The bottom line is that animal products aren’t necessary for healthful and nutritionally adequate diets.

Can kids survive on a plant based diet? 

Yes, they can survive and thrive! 

Plant based diets have been approved by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics who state “appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.

These diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood, and for athletes” (Melina, Craig & Levin, 2016).

Your plant based diet should be based on whole foods 

Consuming whole foods in their natural state ensures you obtain more nutrients. For example an olive contains fibre, vitamins and minerals. Compared to olive oil which has been processed and had most of its nutrients stripped from it and is virtually 100% fat. 

A whole foods plant based diet also avoids the hidden nasties that manufacturers put in our foods. Including nasty additives, preservatives, artificial ingredients (the ones you can’t pronounce), sugar and sodium.

Not all processed foods are created equally. If you’re doing the processing at home – chopping, blending and cooking. You still know what is going into your food as opposed to commercially processed foods.

How to live optimally on plant based whole foods

Increase your intake of

    • fruits
    • vegetables
    • legumes – lentils, chickpeas, beans
    • wholegrains
    • nuts and seeds
    • spices
    • herbs

Avoid the following

    • meat
    • fish
    • dairy
    • eggs
    • honey
    • animal fats, butter
    • sugar
    • oils, including olive, corn, flaxseed, canola, coconut
    • processed and packaged food, except for ones containing only ingredients in increase list
    • limit salt

Focussing on adding more whole foods into your diet rather than focussing on eliminating foods from your diet will help you to transition towards this new lifestyle positively. The intent is to crowd out the processed foods with loads of goodness!

The health benefits of a whole food plant based diet

According to the 2010 WHO Global Status Report on Noncommunicable Diseases, the four primary causes of chronic diseases (63% of global deaths) are an unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, tobacco use, and alcohol consumption (WHO, 2018). In other words majority of deaths are self inflicted and can be prevented.

Large studies in England and Germany showed that people who avoid meat were about 40 percent less likely to develop cancer compared to meat eaters (Thorogood et al, 1994; Chang-Claude et al, 1992; Chang-Claude et al, 1993).

The World Health Organization has classified processed meats as a Group 1 carcinogen, which means that there is strong evidence that they cause cancer. Red meat, such as beef, lamb and pork has been classified as a ‘probable’ cause of cancer (International Agency for Research on Cancer – World Health Organisation, 2015).

Clinical research shows that dairy products have little or no benefit for bones. A 2005 review showed that milk consumption does not improve bone integrity in children (Lanou, 2005).

A WFPB diet has many health benefits and is the only diet that has been proven to reverse coronary heart disease and research has found a plant-based diet to be successful in treating type 2 diabetes. 

In summary, a balanced and varied vegan diet is safe and healthful, as long as energy needs are met as you follow a whole foods plant based diet you will have many health benefits.

If you are following or changing to a plant based diet, I recommend getting advice from a qualified Plant Based Nutritionist to ensure that your diet is nutritionally adequate and to prevent deficiencies. 

References

Chang-Claude, J., Frentzel-Beyme, R., & Eilber, U. (1992). Mortality Pattern of German Vegetarians after 11 Years of Follow-up. Epidemiology, 3(5), 395-401. doi: 10.1097/00001648-199209000-00003

CHANG-CLAUDE, J., & FRENTZEL-BEYME, R. (1993). Dietary and Lifestyle Determinants of Mortality among German Vegetarians. International Journal Of Epidemiology, 22(2), 228-236. doi: 10.1093/ije/22.2.228

Davis, B., & Melina, V. (2014). Becoming vegan. Summertown, Tenn.: Book Publishing.

International Agency for Research on Cancer – World Health Organization. (2015). IARC Monographs evaluate consumption of red meat and processed meat [Ebook]. Retrieved from https://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/pr/2015/pdfs/pr240_E.pdf

Lanou, A. (2005). Calcium, Dairy Products, and Bone Health in Children and Young Adults: A Reevaluation of the Evidence. PEDIATRICS, 115(3), 736-743. doi: 10.1542/peds.2004-0548

Thorogood, M., Mann, J., Appleby, P., & McPherson, K. (1994). Risk of death from cancer and ischaemic heart disease in meat and non-meat eaters. BMJ, 308(6945), 1667-1670. doi: 10.1136/bmj.308.6945.1667

WHO | 2. Background. (2018). Retrieved from http://www.who.int/nutrition/topics/2_background/en/

Herbal Healing Vegan Fruit Gummies

Herbal Healing Vegan Fruit Gummies

Megan Garner | January 6, 2020

Making fruit gummies is a great way to make natural, herbal tinctures palatable to kids who might be reluctant to take them. Tinctures can be used for boosting immunity, relieving an upset stomach, and healing coughs or colds. 

This recipe makes 20 gummies with a dose of herbal tincture at 1ml per dose. If you’re changing the quantity of gummies made, you should adjust the dosage accordingly.

Ingredients

250 ml (1 cup) of juice, choose a variety without added sugar
1 tbsp agar agar powder
20 ml of herbal tincture (if using alcohol based herbal tincture add 10 ml of boiling water to remove alcohol)
60 ml (¼ cup) cold water

Method

1. In a small pan (or Thermomix) bring the juice to a simmer.

2. Place the agar agar into a ¼ cup of cold water and stir until dissolved.

3. Stir the agar agar mix into the juice.

4. Bring to a simmer whilst continually stirring and remove from heat.

5. Pour the herbal tincture into the mixture and mix well.

6. Pour the liquid into moulds, ice cube tray or tupperware lined with baking paper.

7. Leave at room temperature for 20 minutes to set. Then put in the refrigerator and let sit for another 20 minutes.

8. Store in fridge, will last most of the day in a lunch box without melting.

5 Ways to Cut Your Salt Intake & Help Your Heart

5 Ways to Cut Your Salt Intake & Help Your Heart

Megan Garner | October 19, 2019

 

No doubt you know that salt isn’t great for your family’s health. It’s true that we need a little bit of it to keep blood pressure stable and help nerve and muscle impulses to travel properly but too much can have very negative effects on the body. For kids, it can set the scene for health problems later on in life and can even be a factor in childhood asthma.  

With salt added to so many processed foods, it’s no great surprise that the average child eats a lot more of it than they should and that’s without adding it to meals ourselves. Cutting your family’s salt intake may mean that you need to make some changes to the way that you eat but it’s not as hard as you might think to eat less salt. 

But should all salt be avoided? Unrefined salt like Himalayan Salt and Celtic Sea Salt is a vital substance our bodies require to function optimally. The issue is that most processed foods contain refined salt which does not contain minerals and it leads to the depletion of minerals in the body. Refined salt is harmful and needs to be avoided.  

Here are some top tips for making sure that your kids eat less refined salt, including some of the less obvious sources of hidden salt. 

Salt and Spices Header

1. Cook meals from scratch

It might be more effort but cooking from scratch is one of the best ways to control how much salt your family consumes. According to research, kids take in a good chunk of their salt during lunch and dinner and this is often due to the salt levels in processed foods. 

Making your own meals means you can decide what goes in your family’s food, rather than being dependent on what has been added. You can get your kids involved in this and help them to learn about the health impact of too much salt and choose unrefined salt in small amounts. 

Salt Spoon

2. Reduce salt gradually 

For kids that are already used to the taste of salt and like it, you can replace it with unrefined salt and you may need to reduce salt gradually rather than suddenly cut the amount of salt in their diet. 

If their salt intake is decreased slowly, it’s likely that they won’t even notice the difference in salt and you can work towards the ultimate goal of drastically cutting the amount of salt your family eats. 

Fast Food

3. Be wary of fast foods

Pizza contains a lot of salt, some pizzas can contain as much as 10g of salt. When you think that children aged 1 to 3 years are advised to have under 2.5g, 4 to 8 years 3.5g and 9 to 13 years under 5g of salt per day, you can see how bad this is! 

It’s a lot simpler than you might think to create a pizza from scratch and you can make it super healthy by making your own tomato sauce for the base and veggies for the topping. Cheese can be part of the problem where salt is concerned so use sparingly; go without, or you could even make your own cheese sauce from cashews or even potatoes. If you’re feeling really adventurous, you can even try creating a really nutritious pizza base from cauliflower to cut down on salt even further. 

Other processed foods that may also contain a lot of salt include savory snacks (potato chips and pretzels in particular), burgers, deli meats, pasta based ready meals, and even bread. 

Swap salt heavy processed foods for lower salt alternatives or remove them from your family’s diet altogether and replace them with something healthy. 

Potato chips can be swapped for roasted sweet potato chips and pasta can be made healthier by making your own veg based sauces, for example. 

Cereal Bowl

4. Be Aware of Hidden Salt

Some of the foods that contain salt can be a bit more surprising. Breakfast cereals can fall into this category. They may not seem very salty but they can often contain an average of 0.3g of sodium per serving and some cereals can have over 1g of salt in just one serving. 

Sauces are another big candidate for salt and it’s usually much better to make your own. Cheese based sauces are often high in hidden salt but tomato based sauces can also contain a surprising amount of salt. 

Even milkshakes can contain 0.5g of sodium – pretty surprising for something so sweet! On top of everything else your family may be eating, this can add up. If your kids are milkshake fans, try making healthy milkshake type smoothies instead to avoid the added salt. 

 

5. Don’t forget about snacks

A lot of snacks are salty too, especially the processed kind. Cheese and ham lunchbox snacks are an example of this and can contain almost 3g of salt. That’s a huge part of the recommended daily intake for kids before they have even eaten anything else. Swap these kind of convenience snacks for healthier options such as raw veg, fruit or homemade healthy bakes.

 

In summary not all salt needs to be avoided, we need unrefined salt to achieve optimal health. At home use unrefined salt and reduce refined salt intake as much as possible.

 

Get Brekkie Prepped with Baked Oatmeal Cups!

Get Brekkie Prepped with Baked Oatmeal Cups!

Megan Garner | September 3, 2019

 

Get breakfast prepping with this super easy recipe for baked oatmeal cups! It’s vegan, packed with delicious nutritious flavour, and so simple to throw together.

 

Ingredients

3 bananas, mashed
3 cups (255g) rolled oats
1 flax egg, 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed with 2 Tbsp water and let sit for 5 mins
260 mls unsweetened plain almond milk
225g frozen blueberries
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp hemp seeds
1 Tbsp ground nut and seed mix (grind equal quantities of your favourite nuts and seeds in a thermomix or food processor until they form a fine crumb, use for baking, adding to yoghurt, smoothies, salads, and more. Or for a shortcut, switch out for LSA)
Coconut or olive oil for greasing a muffin tray

Method

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

2. Combine mashed bananas, hemp seeds, nut & seed mix, and oats.

3. Add milk, flax egg & cinnamon and stir until fully combined.

4. Add berries and stir until evenly distributed through the mixture.

5. Grease muffin tray and pour mixture into tray.

6. Bake for 15-20mins or until cooked through.

 

Visit Megan’s website to learn more about plant-based nutrition and naturopathy, book a consult or purchase her e-book.

The Benefits of Breastfeeding; Celebrating World Breast Feeding Week

The Benefits of Breastfeeding; Celebrating World Breast Feeding Week

Megan Garner | August 4, 2019

 

It’s World Breastfeeding Week!

World Breastfeeding Week is all about the promotion and protection of breastfeeding, to achieve a world where breastfeeding is the cultural norm, where mothers and families are enabled to feed and care optimally for their infants and young children thus contributing to a just and healthy society (extract from the WABA website)

This month I am excited to share with you an excerpt from my ebook ‘Babies and Toddlers Plant Based Nutrition’. In this chapter I share with you advice for all breastfeeding mamas. 


Breastfeeding and Weaning

Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond” (“Breastfeeding”, 2018).

The natural age of weaning in humans is believed to be between 4.5 and 7 years old. Studies have shown that a child’s immune system doesn’t completely mature until about 6 years of age. It is well established that breast milk helps develop the immune system and augment it with maternal antibodies as long as breast milk is produced.

Breast Feeding Facts

  • Human breastmilk is species specific, providing energy and nutrients (as well as many other beneficial substances).

  • Bioavailability and concentrations of many nutrients in breastmilk is higher than infant formulas.

  • Breastmilk is 80% water, even on a hot day a breastfed baby does not need water or any other liquids.

Breastfeeding mama

Benefits of Breastfeeding

  • Breastmilk protects from infections. Breastfed children have a lower incidence and severity of infectious diseases (Hechtman, 2014).

  • Some studies have suggested that breastfed children may have increased protection against certain diseases including obesity, childhood leukaemia, type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, coeliac disease and inflammatory bowel  diseases compared with those who were not breastfed (Hechtman, 2014).

  • Prolonged exclusive breastfeeding has been associated with enhanced cognitive development (Hechtman, 2014).

  • A research study released in May, 2017 found that the bacteria found in mother’s milk and areolar skin seed the infant gut and profoundly influence the development of infant microbiome (Pannaraj et al., 2017).

Breastfeeding Mama

Breastmilk is a product of living tissue and changes as the needs of your child change. Riordan & Wamback (2012) state, “Human milk is similar to unstructured living tissue, such as blood, and is capable or transporting nutrients, affecting biochemical systems, enhancing immunity, and destroying pathogens ”  “Breastmilk, like all other animal milks, is species-specific. It has been adapted throughout human existence to meet nutritional and anti-infective requirements of the human infant to ensure optimal growth, development, and survival” (Riordan & Wamback, 2012).

 

  • Breastmilk continues to give your toddler MANY vitamins, minerals, enzymes, electrolytes, antibacterial properties, antimicrobial properties, antifungal properties etc. There are many benefits for continuing to breastfeed for as long as possible. 

  • New studies show the gut-brain development continue to develop into the third year of life and breastfeeding during this period is crucial for brain and gut development (Clarke et al., 2014).

Breastfeeding Mama

If Experiencing Difficulties When Breastfeeding

If you experience difficulties seek advice from The Australian Breastfeeding Association and/or an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).

I can also offer one on one support for breastfeeding mothers to assist with milk supply, increasing energy levels and healthy nutrient levels in breastmilk. 

 

References

Breastfeeding. (2018). World Health Organization. Retrieved 23 April 2018, from http://www.who.int/topics/breastfeeding/en/

Clarke, G., O’Mahony, S., Dinan, T., & Cryan, J. (2014). Priming for health: gut microbiota acquired in early life regulates physiology, brain and behaviour. Acta Paediatrica, 103(8), 812-819. doi: 10.1111/apa.12674

Hechtman, L. (2014). Clinical naturopathic medicine (1st ed.). Chatswood: Elsevier.

Pannaraj, P., Li, F., Cerini, C., Bender, J., Yang, S., & Rollie, A. et al. (2017). Association Between Breast Milk Bacterial Communities and Establishment and Development of the Infant Gut Microbiome. JAMA Pediatrics, 171(7), 647. doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2017.0378

Riordan, J & Wamback 2012, Breastfeeding and human lactation, 4th ed, Jones and Bartlett Publishers, Sudbury, Massachusetts.

 

This blog is an excerpt from Megan’s book ‘Babies and Toddlers Plant Based Nutrition’. You can purchase this extremely informative book on her website

 

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