I attended the recent Vegfest 2019 event in London which is one of the biggest and most influential plant-based events going. People come together to learn from motivational speakers, new initiatives and exciting brands that highlight the power of vegetarianism and veganism and its impact on both health and happiness. I had the opportunity to meet the “Plant Power Doctor” Gemma Newman and discuss key points surrounding diet and health. These are some of the most important take-home points you should know in case you didn’t make it to the festival on this occasion.
Dr Gemma Newman: Mental Health and Plant-Based Nutrition
When talking about plant-based health, Dr Gemma Newman touched on mental health and nutrition. By showing different studies she illustrated the correlation between symptoms of depression and diet.
Benefits of a Mediterranean-style diet
Even though the topic is a highly complex one, here are a few key details to remember. Firstly, a shift from a western diet to a Mediterranean-style one, with 6 servings of vegetables, 3 fruits, 5-8 wholegrains, 2-4 meat and fish and 2-3 portions of dairy per week, achieved depression remission of 1/3 of an intervention group within three months, 4 times better than that of the control group.
On the other hand, consuming carbohydrates with tryptophan helps boost mood, because they increase their bioavailability. Vitamins B12, folate and B6 are also key in helping break homocysteine (an amino acid in blood gotten mostly from eating meat, which is linked to heart disease) and help with depression. Carotenoids and magnesium also hold an important role in keeping depression at bay.
Food for thought
Other good tips for you to understand and remember are; the relationship between your gut microbiome and your thoughts and feelings; to only to take antibiotics when absolutely necessary; to minimize your exposure to meat options, thereby helping to reduce the demand for farmed meats. Avoiding antibacterial soaps and sprays, processed or packaged foods and consider taking probiotics, if needed, in the short-term.
Diet isn’t everything!
Finally, Dr Newman left us with some reflections about health, knowing that diet is an important part but that it’s not everything.
Strong and long-lasting social bonds with family and friends is as important for a long and healthy life. Also, an active outdoor life with daily physical activity, spirituality and wellness habits are equally important. Homegrown or cooked foods abundant in fruits and vegetables are great, limiting meat and junk food is always key, as well as is good sleep and always giving and helping others out.