In recent years, the focus on healthy eating and weight management has led to the rise of various dietary approaches. One such approach gaining attention is the lipid diet, which emphasizes the consumption of healthy fats while limiting carbohydrate and protein intake. This dietary strategy is based on the premise that not all fats harm our health. Some types of fats, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, have been associated with numerous health benefits. Here, we explore the principles of the lipid diet, explore its potential advantages, and discuss important considerations for those considering adopting this approach.
What is the Lipid Diet?
The lipid diet, also known as the high-fat diet, is designed to prioritize the consumption of healthy fats while reducing carbohydrate and protein intake. The underlying principle is that by minimizing carbohydrates, the body is forced to use stored fat as its primary energy source, a state known as ketosis. This shift in metabolic fuel can lead to weight loss and other potential health benefits.
Healthy fats are found in olive oil, avocados, seeds, nuts, and fatty fish and are the primary energy sources in a lipid diet. These fats are high in MUFA and PUFA, which have been linked to decreased inflammation, improved heart health, and enhanced cognitive function. Additionally, fats are more satiating than carbohydrates or protein, which can help control hunger and promote adherence to the diet.
Understanding Lipids and Their Types
Lipids are various groups of organic compounds that are insoluble in water but soluble in organic solvents. They serve as a concentrated energy source, act as structural components of cell membranes, and are involved in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. It is essential to differentiate between the various types of lipids to make informed decisions about their inclusion in our diet.
- Saturated Fats: Saturated fats are commonly found in animal products such as meat, dairy, and poultry. These fats are solidified at room temperature and have long been associated with a high risk of cardiovascular diseases. Consuming saturated fats in moderation is advisable; opt for leaner sources whenever possible.
- Unsaturated Fats: Unsaturated fats can be divided into monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These healthy fats are typically found in plant-based oils, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish. They offer numerous health benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease, lowering cholesterol levels, and supporting brain function.
- Trans Fats: Trans fats are artificially made fats commonly found in processed and fried foods. They raise bad cholesterol levels (LDL) while lowering good cholesterol levels (HDL), thereby increasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. It is highly recommended to minimize the consumption of trans fats.
Benefits of a Lipid Diet
- Weight Loss: The lipid diet has shown promising results in promoting weight loss, primarily due to the increased satiety and decreased hunger that healthy fats provide. Reducing carbohydrates and the subsequent induction of ketosis can also give weight loss by burning stored fat as fuel.
- Improved Heart Health: Contrary to popular belief, not all fats harm heart health. Healthy fats can help increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels, known as the “good” cholesterol. HDL cholesterol is crucial in removing low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, commonly called the “bad” cholesterol, from the bloodstream. By promoting a healthier lipid profile, a lipid diet may reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
- Enhanced Cognitive Function: The brain is composed mainly of fat, and adequate fat intake is essential for optimal brain function. Research suggests that a lipid diet, particularly one rich in omega-3 fatty acids in fatty fish and flaxseeds, may support brain health and cognitive function. These fats have been associated with a reduced risk of age-related cognitive decline and improved memory.
- Reduced Inflammation: Chronic inflammation is associated with several health issues, including obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. The lipid diet, with its emphasis on healthy fats, has been found to have anti-inflammatory effects. Omega-3 fatty acids, in particular, possess potent anti-inflammatory properties, which can help mitigate systemic inflammation and improve overall health.
Considerations for a Lipid Diet
While the lipid diet offers potential benefits, it is crucial to approach this dietary strategy cautiously and carefully. Here are some main factors to keep in mind:
- Nutritional Balance: While fats are a key component of the lipid diet, it is still essential to maintain a balanced intake of other essential nutrients. Adequate amounts of vitamins, minerals, and fiber should be obtained from vegetables, fruits, and other nutrient-rich foods.
- Quality of Fats: Not all fats are created equal. It is important to prioritize healthy sources of fats, such as avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil, while minimizing or avoiding unhealthy saturated and trans fats. Processed and fried foods should also be limited.
- Individual Variation: Each person’s nutritional needs and tolerances are unique. Some individuals may thrive on a lipid diet, while others may experience adverse effects. It is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian before embarking on any major dietary changes.
- Sustainability: Sustainability and long-term adherence are crucial to any diet’s success. While the lipid diet can be effective for weight loss and certain health benefits, it may not suit everyone in the long run. Consider lifestyle factors, personal preferences, and overall diet enjoyment when making dietary choices.
- Portion Control: Moderation is key when it comes to dietary fats. Healthy fats should be consumed in appropriate portions to maintain a balanced diet and prevent excessive caloric intake. Consulting a registered dietitian can be beneficial in determining the suitable amount of fat intake based on individual needs.
- Cooking Methods: How we prepare food can significantly impact its lipid content. Instead of deep-frying, opting for healthier cooking methods such as grilling, baking, steaming, or stir-frying with minimal oil is advisable. Replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats in recipes can make a significant difference.
- Reading Food Labels: Being aware of the fat content in packaged foods is essential for making informed choices. Food labels can help identify high levels of saturated and trans fats, enabling us to opt for healthier alternatives.
The lipid diet, emphasizing healthy fats and reduced carbohydrates, has gained attention as a potential strategy for weight loss and improved health. Incorporating monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in the diet has several health benefits, including weight loss, enhanced heart health, improved cognitive function, and reduced inflammation.
However, it is important to approach the lipid diet with careful consideration. Nutritional balance, quality of fats, individual variation, and sustainability should be considered when deciding on any dietary approach.
Remember, no single diet works for everyone, and it is essential to listen to your body and seek guidance from healthcare professionals or registered dietitians. Making informed choices, focusing on whole, unprocessed foods, and maintaining a balanced and varied diet remain key principles for overall health and well-being.
NourishDoc: Hello, everyone. Well, we all know a plant-based diet is beneficial for us. We wanted to dive deeper into how a plant-based diet can help us with lipid levels, cholesterol, blood pressure, etc. So, to talk about this topic, we have Nelcy. Nelcy is a registered dietitian, certified vegan nutrition dietitian, and plant-based dietitian. Thank you so much for joining us, Nancy, and if anything else you like about yourself, please feel free to do that.
Dietician Nelcy: No, thank you so much for having me. Yes, so yeah, as you said, my name is Nelcy Mylones. I’m a registered dietitian nutritionist specializing in plant-based and vegan nutrition; I’m so happy to be here. Any questions and suggestions or whatever you guys want to know about? That’s what we’re here for, right? Let’s start with the benefits right away.
What Are Lipid Levels?
NourishDoc: Yeah, please. Let’s go deep into it, we are talking about lipid levels starting with at least, and then we can touch upon other things, right?
Dietician Nelcy: Yes, so I have my notes. I’ll be looking over my notes. So, reduction of blood and serum lipid levels, right? So, things like overall cholesterol, HDL, good cholesterol, LDL, bad cholesterol, and overall triglycerides are reduced. Why is that because of the increment in fiber-rich meals? It has been noted that increasing fiber in your meals helps reduce the body from absorbing all these lipids and giving us all kinds of problems.
For example, atherosclerosis is a big issue that we of both concerned with; addressing sclerosis is just the black build-up in the arteries, which leads to heart disease and coronary heart disease, which is a big issue. But yeah, reducing saturated fats, which are mostly from animal-based foods, gives you the benefit of improving your serum lipid levels. What else can I say about that? The fiber, right?
So, we are increasing fiber in our meals; non-placed lifestyles of people who don’t follow a plant-based lifestyle need more fiber. Women should get at least 25 grams of fiber daily. Men should get at least 38 grams daily; we do not need those recommendations. Now, fiber also helps reduce blood pressure. Now, blood pressure, according to the National Institute of Health, recommends a dashing lifestyle, meaning dash meaning dietary approach to stop hypertension.
These lifestyles constitute foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds. These foods are rich in nutrients like potassium, magnesium, calcium, and fiber, which are the basis of a plant-based lifestyle. So, that’s another benefit that can help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. What else can I say about that? So let’s see. What do I have in my notes? Yeah, so another big one.
Chronic inflammation, it’s a bad problem in our arteries, right? So chronic inflammation can also lead to the acropolis, which is the plaque build-up in our arteries. So consuming a plant-based lifestyle rich in phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, flavonoids, isoflavonoids, and fiber can help reduce inflammation in the body, which is often the root cause of many chronic diseases, as we know.
Another benefit I know I’m getting off the topic of lipids, but this is a big one, so because of all the phytonutrients that we include in our meals from the fiber-rich meals, different fiber sources we are feeding our healthy gut bacteria, our probiotics, right? So these phytonutrients are fiber, which is called prebiotics.
It’s the food for the probiotics, which is the healthy gut bacteria like that healthy gut microflora. I’m not sure who here knows about the gut, brain connection; the benefits are just amazing, from reducing anxiety, depression, GI test, and digestion problems to just a plethora of health benefits altogether, just from that too. What else would I say about it?
Nutrition From Plant-Based Diets
NourishDoc: Now, those are great topics. Those are great things that you talked about. So I think let’s talk a little about whether someone has a plant-based diet and is vegetarian or vegan, right? So, we want to inform people what nutrients they will not get. Right? As opposed to what you will get from eating meat, chicken, fish, or whatever meat you eat. So it’s important to understand that if someone is vegan, what will I not get if I am only a plant based on a plant-based diet, right? That is what I want to understand.
Dietician Nelcy: No, that’s a big one. So, one nutrient I would focus on is supplement B12. Deficiency symptoms are noted two to three years after not consuming animal-based products. Now, with B12, let me say what I, if the information on B-12, B 12, the way we receive B 12. B12 is found in microorganisms and bacteria that are in the soil.
So, back in our grandparents’ time. In farming, the cattle would go out and feed from the grass. The grass will have a little bit of dirt, and then the cow is synthesized that B 12. Then, we consume the meat, and we get the B twelve. That is no longer true with farming today; animals are injected with B12. They’re being supplemented because they’re not fed like they were used to years ago, right? So they’re being supplemented with B12. I’d rather take the middleman out and take the B-12 myself.
But yes, B12 is a very important nutrient that can have three or four nerve degenerations over time. It can cause things like anxiety, constipation, and loss of appetite. It can cause megaloblastic anemia, memory loss, and nerve damage. So, supplementation on B 12, it’s a must. Also, B12 can be found in things like spirulina, nutritional yeast, four to five cereals, and plant-based meals. We can find B12 in those forty-five food options.
But supplementation is a must because we need to obtain more from just the foods, from those foods. Another one is vitamin D. We can obtain vitamin D from the sun. We can synthesize it from the sun. Fifteen minutes a day will help us. Also, mushrooms, when they’re grown and stored under UV light, they’re able to produce vitamin D. Meals and cereals have it.
Now, with vitamin D, especially for women over 30, we start to absorb less vitamin D and calcium which must be taken together because they work in synergy. Our bodies absorb both together at the same time. So, vitamin D and calcium together also supplement. We can get it from food, but to be on the safe side, supplementation is also needed.
Other than that, if you are eating a true plant-based or vegan lifestyle, with not many pre-packaged foods, right? So, these are whole foods. You can obtain all the nutrients you need just from foods. Those two nutrients are the ones that I worry about the most, B12 and vitamin D with calcium.
NourishDoc: All right, well, this time, that’s much amazing information. Thank you so much, Nelcy; this is a quick 10-minute session that we do; it’s not intended to have a medical, just an educational session. So we have a live person who’s attending Nicholas. If you have any questions, comments, or feedback, you’re welcome to put it in the chat window or unmute yourself and ask. I will wait for a few seconds if you have any comments, feedback, or anything.
We are launching our platform like a Netflix or holistic lifestyle or medicine, whatever you want. So, you will be able to access a lot of this information from experts worldwide, but this is something we bring daily, a live component to our commitment to the community to advocate a holistic lifestyle. Okay, he’s, well, the comment is, thank you, just listening and taking it all involved, take it all in, and apply it, that’s what I will tell. Okay, with no comments or feedback or anything else, Nelcy, you want to add before I wrap up; this is a quick 10-minute session that we do.
Dietician Nelcy: No, I mean, we covered many things; I guess I can give you some numbers; I know people always like numbers, so yes, from the Academy Nutrition Dietetics, the latest systematic review of literature from the latest research in the past five to 10 years, there’s a 30% reduction of risk of colon cancer and that is because we increasing the fiber in our meals, 20 to 30 percent reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, everything that I mentioned before with the Athrosclerosis and the ischemic heart disease.
So, this is a 20 to 35% deduction on that but even bigger than that, ischemic heart disease is the reduction of blood flow to the heart muscle. There has been a 57% reduction in death from ischemic heart disease from people following a vegan lifestyle and a 24% reduction from people following a plant-based or vegetarian lifestyle. Those numbers were really big for me. So yeah, I wanted to share those and plant-based or vegetarians.
They have a lower risk of developing dementia than non-plant-based persons, and it can also help reduce the risk of developing cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and autism. So these are all things they have noticed in the past seven years of research on the benefits of just following a plant-based lifestyle.
NourishDoc: Well, I think that’s amazing. That’s a big revolution in the sense that if you look at our society for the last 20 years or so, we have been more like a meat-eating society, at least in the United States, not talking what other parts of the world, but now we are beginning to understand the benefits and slowly getting back into at least where I come from more vegetarian based but all the whole society is getting into that, the plant-based, right?
Dietician Nelcy: Yes, I have noticed the shift in the conscious level of all the benefits from a plant-based lifestyle, which is great, it’s all great; I mean, I love it, all my clients are plant-based, or they want to start introducing more plant-based lifestyle into their daily meals. So, which is, I love it. It’s great and moving us to fewer mitigations in the future, right? I don’t know who likes to be on medications, but it’s something; it’s a great benefit.
NourishDoc: Absolutely, and the only thing I’ll say is, I mean, the way I started was starting slow like, in a sense, do like one day would be all plant-based and slowly shift into being 100% plant-based because is it difficult to change habits as we all know that? We used to eat a certain type of food, and suddenly, someone says, okay, now somebody tells me to start eating whatever I’m like, oh my god, I’ve never eaten that. We go slow and take baby steps, but at least start incorporating that into your lifestyle.
Dietician Nelcy: That is a great point. Sometimes we’re so hard on ourselves, and we’re like, ” Oh, we want to be perfect. We want to switch everything in our lives, but let’s do plant-based and everything perfectly. No, it’s okay. Take it one meal at a time. One day at a time, it’s fine, and you learn as you go along.
There’s no perfection; you learn as you go alone, and that’s it. I said, many times we have to get used to, even knowing how to cook these foods; it’s like, I’ve had clients tell me, oh my god, I’ve never had kale before. I’m like, oh my god, how can, how do you know that? But these are things that we learn, look for recipes, and do; it’s the habit of making that happen. If that makes sense, we reopen too hard on ourselves. One day at a time, one meal at a time, it’s good enough.
NourishDoc: Thank you so much, Nelcy for being with us. Thank you, everyone, for supporting us through this whole journey we are bringing together. So, have a great week, everyone, and start the plant-based journey gradually. That’s all I have to say.