Fruits and veggies are absolute non-negotiables. Keep in mind that whether or not you eat dairy, meat or fish, the vast majority of your plate should be filled with plants (organic if possible - more to come). The antioxidants and phytonutrients from plants are vital for us to maintain our health and protect us from disease. In looking at fruits and vegetables, more recent advice is to aim for as much as 10 portions of fruit and veg a day, with more veg than fruit. It is thought that about half of your veggie intake should be cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, kale, spinach, brussel sprouts, swiss chard, bok choy, cabbage, arugula, watercress) for many reasons including, but not limited to, their incredible liver cleansing properties, powerful plant-based phytonutrients (which lower inflammation and the risk of cancer) and them being a rich source of folate, vitamin K, A and C. It is thought that about half your fruit intake should be from berries like blackberries and blueberries due to, amongst other things, their high antioxidant and vitamin C levels. Good fats with a focus on omega 3’s (found in oily fish, nuts, seeds, avocados, cold pressed avocado oil, olives, cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, macadamia nut oil) and good proteins (nuts, seeds, grains, legumes, as well small amounts of protein in vegetables, and of course small portions of lean/clean meat and fish if you feel you need it) should be the rest of your nutritional intake. It is emerging that we probably need more good fats and less protein that modern western culture and marketing has led us to believe in recent decades. Recall the low fat fad diet of the 90's (where fat was removed and sugar added) and think of the Atkins fad (which made bacon, sausage and eggs acceptable for breakfast everyday). Diets that decrease or eliminate or increase drastically one of the major food groups ought to be questioned and researched. To promote longevity and prevent disease, our bodies need an organic, nutrient-dense diet, free from preservatives, added inflammatory oils and added sugar and, something most of us like to put on the blinders for: ideally little or no alcohol. We need a diet rich in gut-friendly foods (including prebiotics and probiotics) to maintain a healthy microbiome, and low in the “bad” saturated fats which raise LDL cholesterol. That means more fiber rich foods, and more fermented foods (like sauerkraut, tempeh, apple cider vinegar) or yogurt, and less animal fats from meat and dairy. See the key benefits section of the Roamers Superfood Mix to learn more about the macro food groups and a few extra important ones like fiber! It is not a complete list, we should consider all the wonderful vitamins and minerals we get from plenty of fruits and vegetables too.
"The antioxidants and phytonutrients from plants are vital for us to maintain our health and protect us from disease."
It’s important to see what works for you when it comes to cutting out nutritious foods from your diet, because everybody is different. Under the guidance of a doctor or nutritionist, you may find it appropriate to supplement your diet with vitamins and/or potent herbs if you are cutting particular food groups out, or if you are healing from inflammation caused by a food sensitivity or conventional medication. The jury is out on gluten; some people appear to have no intolerance, others have sensitivities and others have a serious gluten intolerance. Trial with and without gluten (assuming such a trial does not leave you bedridden or in a lot of pain!), keep a food diary to record how you feel and see what conclusion you come to. Effects of gluten are not only stomach pains and changes in stools, but also sluggishness, tiredness, depression, skin conditions, swollen eyes; because the gut affects our whole body! It is thought that gluten causes inflammation in the vast majority of people, even if you don’t ‘feel’ anything. A good reason to vary your diet and replace some of your gluten consumption with other foods! I decided that internal inflammation is a trigger of my acne so I have reduced my gluten intake, and now only consider it worthwhile if it’s a very high quality sprouted grain bread or freshly made sourdough pizza crust. I have replaced whole wheat pasta with lentil or chickpea flour pasta, and I must say, I do not feel sorry for myself! I always make a tasty pasta sauce or vegan pesto with veggies to go with it. Some people may also feel they get inflammation from consuming grains. This is based on the agricultural revolution taking place just 12,000 years ago and our bodies not having the time they need to evolve to a grain-based diet. It is now widely agreed upon that dairy causes a lot of issues, though I have heard that goat or camel dairy are not so bad alternatives if you are so inclined. Even government food pyramids have reduced the dairy section in their guidelines; though schools get their funding cut in US if they refuse to include milk in student’s meals - still a way to go. Again, experiment and record your results. I have personally decreased my consumption of inflammatory foods (I have avoided dairy or consumed very little dairy for the past 9 years, so recent changes for me were reducing gluten such as whole wheat bread and pasta and reducing high omega 6 containing foods - or poor omega 3 to 6 ratios - such as canola oil and soybean oil which are in pretty much anything processed, e.g. store bought veggie burgers and big brand American pizza crusts) and have seen a marked improvement in my acne - for the first time in a decade - yet I am also using toxin-free cosmetics, have reduced the work stress in my life and have had a good exercise routine for a long time. This is what I mean by a holistic lifestyle.Plant Power
Our personal choice is to avoid eating animals 100% of the time and to avoid eating fish and animal products 95-100% of the time, due to research showing the adverse effects that dairy, meat and fish can have in the body and on the planet, as well as the eye-opening reality that the vast majority of meat, dairy and fish is antibiotic and/or hormone and/or toxin-laden. Cement this with the fact that the majority of animals which are used for their byproducts or killed for their bodies are done so via factory farming where the conditions are mercilessly cruel and inhumane, and we were able to set our intentions for the foreseeable future. A few weeks after adoption, a lot of people will thrive off a purely wholefood plant-based diet and find it heals many ailments. A few might find they don’t feel quite right, despite several weeks on a varied wholefood plant-based diet. Listen to your body and don’t be too proud to make adjustments if your chosen lifestyle is just not working for you. One thing is for sure: including wholefoods in your diet will only improve your life. If you’re not sure about going entirely plant-based, why not opt for local organic meat (ideally grass-fed for cows) and dairy and sustainably caught fish where toxin levels are being monitored? It is best to go for fish lower in the food chain, such as sardines, that have not compounded as many toxins as the bigger fish such as salmon, plus they are still rich in Omega 3’s. This will be expensive, yes, but quality over quantity. Do your research and decide what is best for you. I read that the best fishing practices are in Alaskan oceans if you’d like to research further.
"A few weeks after adoption, a lot of people will thrive off a purely wholefood plant-based diet and find it heals many ailments."
Whatever you decide, it’s best not to obsess over diet defining labels. It is human nature to want to categorize, but on the other hand this inhibits sharing knowledge, maintaining an open mind and doing what is right for YOU! What if you decide to cut out fish but want to eat meat and grains but not dairy? Or eat mainly vegan with odd bit of sustainably caught fish? What or who does that make you? It doesn’t matter! Sometimes labelling yourself is setting yourself up for failure; becoming 100% vegan if you travel to different cultures regularly or socialize at formal events can be difficult to achieve, versus accepting that 95% veganism will halve your stress over trying to be perfect and still make a heck of a difference! Eating habits should not cause stress.Supplements
Science shows that vitamin B12 and omega 3 play a vital roles in brain health, energy levels, heart disease prevention, memory and the nervous system. With being ‘vegan’ the vast majority of the time, we need to supplement with vitamin B12 and/or eat lots of nutritional yeast and plant milks fortified with B12 (because vitamin B12 is found in the stomachs of animals that we choose not to eat). For vegans especially, supplementing with DHA and EPA’s forms of omega 3 if you are a menstruating female will be important because you need all the essential fatty acids to make hormones and maintain a healthy, natural cycle. We get a ton of ALA from plants like nuts, seeds, avocados and olives, but not DHA or EPA. You can get vegan DHA and EPA from algal oil Omega 3 supplements - straight to the algae source, rather than eating the fish who eat the algae. Our body needs B12 and DHA and EPA because we evolved eating primarily plants and some meat/fish, as hunter gatherers. Veganism isn’t always perfect for everyone, which is why I keep saying do your own research and do what is best for your body within the constraints of your own personal values. If you choose an omega 3 fish oil supplement rather than an algae based one, be sure to choose a third party tested one which has been filtered (to avoid dosing yourself with toxins everyday). You may want to consider a fish oil that sources via sustainable fishing practices given that, according to ecologists, our oceans are expected to be fishless by 2048 at the current rate of destruction to ocean ecosystems. Most Americans are deficient in omega 3, so I would definitely recommend looking into a supplement. In terms of other herbal supplements and vitamins, my personal opinion is these are helpful for short periods of time if you are healing from a period of stress which might have manifested itself as hormonal imbalance, a skin disorder, or you have found your gut or liver have taken a beating from conventional drugs for instance, or as you try to replenish lost nutrients.