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How can your diet affect your health?

Diet

Have you abandoned the traditional balanced diet? Read how cutting out food groups can affect your health.


Bella Marsden

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Vegan, vegetarian, paleo, gluten-free, ketogenic, Atkins, 5:2, alkaline, low GI, clean, raw, there’s a diet for everyone and at the moment it seems, just about everyone is on a diet.

What is different about diets today is that rather than just cutting down on calories to get a beach-ready body, these diets are more about a food philosophy, with motives ranging from health, to animal welfare, to the environment and sustainability. Modern diet trends are also now about elimination and it is not uncommon for people to eliminate whole food groups from their diets: whether its a vegan spurning all animal products, a body-builder forgoing carbs to cut their fat to competition levels, someone who wants to live as our ancestors did on just grass-fed meats and vegetables, or even someone who is time-poor and lives entirely on ready-meals and processed foods, it seems the traditional “balanced” diet is a thing of the past.

But what are the consequences of missing out on whole food groups? Sometimes eliminating foods from your diet can have unintended consequences. We’ve identified the main ones and created new test profiles so that whatever your diet, you can make sure that your body is coping with your food philosophy and that you are getting all the nutrients you need. Our new diet checks give you the perfect opportunity to find out how your diet is affecting your health, and include:

Kidney Check - Eating too much animal protein such as red meat, poultry, eggs and seafood, increases the level of uric acid and can lead to kidney stones. It also reduces levels of citrate, the chemical in urine that helps prevent kidney stones from forming.

Liver Check - As well as excessive alcohol consumption, a diet high in processed food, sugar and fat can damage the liver. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a build-up of fat in the liver, usually seen in people who are overweight. Those especially at risk are people who carry excess weight around their middle.

Calcium Check - Restricting or cutting out dairy can significantly reduce the amount of calcium in the diet, especially if it is also low in green leafy vegetables. This is particularly important for teenage girls as they need enough calcium to store for later life when levels may be low, such as during menopause.

Iron Check - Meat is a rich source of iron but if you cut meat out of your diet there is a chance of developing iron deficiency anaemia. This is especially important for menstruating girls and women as they already have a greater risk of being deficient in this important mineral.

Diabetes Check - Diabetes is caused by excessive glucose or sugar remaining in the blood rather than getting into the cells for energy. People who eat a diet high in refined carbohydrates and sugar are more at risk of developing diabetes.

Cholesterol Check - Certain foods such as eggs contain cholesterol, however eating them may not affect a person’s blood cholesterol. While much of your cholesterol is formed in the liver, diet can also play a part. Cutting back on saturated fat and increasing exercise is still the recommended strategy to reduce cholesterol levels.

Vitamin B12 Check - This is an essential vitamin that is only found in significant amounts in animal products. People who cut out animal products from their diet are at risk of B12 deficiency unless they take supplements or foods fortified with B12.

Folate Check - Eating an unhealthy diet high in junk foods and low in fruits and vegetables can result in a folate deficiency. Folate is crucial for the function of the body’s metabolism and for the growth and repair of cells.

Vitamin D Check - Often referred to as the ‘sunshine vitamin’, vitamin D can also be found in some meat, fish and eggs. People restricting meat and eggs from their diet may find they are deficient in vitamin D - so supplementing and spending time in the sun is important.

Magnesium Check – Included in our Diet Check UltraVit, this test looks at the amount of magnesium in the body.  Magnesium is found in fibre-rich foods such as green leafy vegetables, wholemeal bread and brown rice as well as in fish and meat. An unhealthy diet may result in a magnesium deficiency.

Essential Fatty Acids Check - Also included in our Diet Check UltraVit, this test looks at omega 6: omega 3 ratio. Many people’s omega 6 is too high as a result consuming too much fat and processed food and not enough oily fish rich in omega 3. Cutting meat and fish from the diet may result in low omega 3 as there aren’t many sources found in vegetables. Plant based sources include flaxseed, nuts and seeds.

Whatever type of diet you are on, it is possible to live healthily provided you identify where the shortfalls are and are prepared to compensate through supplements and lifestyle changes. Our new diet checks are designed to help you do just that.


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