What are the risks of plant-based diets?

Lubov NatochiyLS Food
Lack of certain substances leads to a systemic imbalance in the body
Lack of certain substances leads to systemic imbalance in the body

Lesia Sak, a nutritionist and medical psychologist, explained how nutritional deficiencies can negatively affect mental health.

Probably, each of the many varieties of vegetarianism – up to veganism and vegan raw foodism – appeared in search of an answer to the question: "How to eat right?" However, not all of these solutions are correct, according to modern science. In particular, the claim that our ancestors ate only plant-based foods and felt great is not supported by any evidence:

  • First, the quality and length of life of ancient gatherers was significantly different from that of modern people;
  • Second, the ability to digest plant foods in Homo sapiens and their ancestors differs in the same way as, say, modern bred sweet apple varieties from sour wild apple trees.

Evolution has adapted the human body so that it can effectively absorb a number of nutrients only from animal products. A total rejection of them has a negative impact on health, and among other things, it has a detrimental effect on brain function.

What is missing?

Most often, deficiency states are caused by a lack of the following nutrients:

  • Protein. First of all, there is not enough of it in the menu of raw foodists. The truth is, that humans are adapted to the consumption of cooked, denatured proteins. By the way, Richard Wrenham, author of "Light the Fire. How Cooking Made Us Human, hypothesized that homo sapiens became sapiens precisely because of cooking. The anthropologist suggests that digestion no longer required such enormous energy resources as it used to, which allowed the development of the brain.
  • Iron. Due to genetically determined mechanisms, ferrous iron contained in meat, liver, etc. is better absorbed than monovalent iron contained in plant products.
What are the risks of plant-based diets?
  • Zinc. This element, which is necessary for the protection of nervous system cells and a number of other crucial processes, can be found in seafood, meat, eggs, and dairy products, as well as in grains and legumes. Pumpkin seeds are among the leaders in zinc content. But here's the kicker: to get the amount of zinc your brain needs, you'll have to munch on them like a squirrel for almost half a day; in addition, various grains contain phytic acids that bind zinc and other beneficial nutrients and prevent their absorption.
What are the risks of plant-based diets?
  • Vitamin B12. It can be found in algae. But again: unlike the vitamin contained in animal products, the vegetable one is hardly converted into a form of substance that can reach brain cells. Folate-deficiency anemia develops against the background of vitamin B12 deficiency, which provokes degenerative disorders of the nervous system
  • Fats. For now, let's mention the famous "omega-3" fatty acids. Vegetable oils are low in them, unlike oily fish. Fish is also believed to have played a significant role in the evolution of mankind. Since our ancestors learned how to fish, they have received enough "building blocks" to develop a brain capable of performing complex cognitive tasks.

What's going on?

The lack of these substances leads to a systemic imbalance in the body, which causes depression and anxiety. Moreover, such deficiencies can trigger genetic mental illnesses, including schizophrenia.

Excessive focus on adherence to an unconventional style of eating can provoke anxiety, which, unfortunately, can easily develop into eating disorders, which can only be overcome with the help of a psychologist.

So, there can be only one conclusion from all of the above – before resorting to radical food experiments, you should consult a specialist who will explain the possible consequences and prospects. Or, if the principles prevail, you should visit your doctor regularly to have the opportunity to timely correct deficiency conditions with medication.

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