This week some new research has emerged which has developed a new ‘diet’ to save lives whilst making a conscious effort to look after the planet too. The UK population is currently at 7bn and is expected to climb to 10bn by 2050. At the rate we’re eating now scientists are questioning how our food could stretch to feed the this population growth. As a result, The Planetary diet is set to be able to support this expected population growth too.
But what exactly is this diet and what does it entail?
The diet (also referred to as a type of flexitarian diet) encourages a reduction in meat and dairy consumption and an increase in plant-based foods such as beans, pulses, nuts and seeds. A reduction means consuming red meat no more than once per month, chicken and fish a few times per week and then basing the rest of your meals around plants.
So what does this mean for your health?
If done properly (and by that I mean with consideration around the rest of your diet) then this shouldn’t be a problem. Although if one reduces meat and dairy with no understanding of the nutrients their at risk of deficiency then they might not be obtaining optimal health.
Below I’ve listed the key nutrients to be aware of when reducing your red meat and dairy consumption and where else you can get them from.
Calcium – this is often the one which worries people the most as calcium is often associated with dairy. You can obtain enough calcium with fortified nut milks, tofu, green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds. Although it’s essential that you have enough vitamin D too. Without vitamin D calcium cannot be absorbed and utilised. The UK government guidelines suggest that we should be supplementing during the winter months.
Iron – essential for transporting oxygen around the body. People often argue that there’s more iron in broccoli than steak. The iron in broccoli is considerably less available for the body than that found in meat. Therefore ensure that you’re consuming good quality meat once per month and combine your green leafy vegetables with a source of vitamin C such as lemon to increase absorption. Utilise oats, green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds for their iron too. Avoid consuming tea and coffee with your meals as the tannins can reduce the absorption of iron.
B12 – B12 is essential for metabolism although if you’re consuming enough chicken, fish and some eggs then this shouldn’t be too much of a problem for you.
Vitamin D – Mainly found in milk, although it’s incredibly difficult to get from the diet alone. As mentioned above we should all be supplementing with Vitamin D in the winter months in the UK (although please seek advice if you’re on other medication).
Iodine – also found in milk and vital for thyroid function. Although Iodine can also be found in white fish. I recommend consuming 1-2 portions weekly. The daily allowance is 28g. I’d suggest eating 2 portions of 98g instead.
So whilst the diet is exciting it’s important to be aware of potential losses. Make sure you’ve got all areas covered by replacing potential nutrient losses with alternative sources.