Words by Kate Osborne
As a nutritionist, I always emphasise the importance of adequate protein each day. Great vegetarian sources of protein are eggs, cheese (organic if possible), natural yoghurt (avoid sugary fruit ones), soy beans (fermented and GMO free), lentils, nuts and seeds. Avocados are also a brilliant protein source, containing all eight essential amino acids.
Soy is an easy alternative to animal protein and we see plenty of soy products on the shelves such as soy milks, meat alternatives and yoghurts. However, soy is often genetically modified and can be heavily sprayed with glyphosates (a herbicide which is toxic to human cells). If you are eating lots of soy, it is better to have it both labelled specifically as non-GMO and in its fermented form. Fermented soy products like tempeh, miso or natto have been enjoyed in traditional Asian societies for thousands of years and pose far fewer health risks.
There are many plant foods that are often advertised as being a good source of Omega 3 fatty acids like flaxseeds, walnuts and hempseeds. While these are all great foods, they don’t contain omega-3 fats in the form that our bodies actually need them in (DHA and EPA). Instead they contain ALA alpha-linolenic acid which our bodies must convert to a more usable form. It’s an inefficient process and only about 5-7% of the ALA that you eat will get converted to DHA. You will need to eat 10-20 times the amount of ALA to get the equivalent amount of DHA made for your brain. Some of my vegetarian clients supplement with fish oils and there are plenty of vegan supplements available which are derived from marine algae. Just ask Dr Google.
Most vegetarians know about the need for Iron (chickpeas, lentils, leafy greens, nuts), vitamin B12 (cheese, yoghurt and eggs) and vitamin D (egg yolks and the sun). But far fewer are aware that animal products are the only true sources of premade vitamin A. Vegetables contain beta-carotene which the body can convert to vitamin A but many of us have weaknesses in the enzymes that enable us to do this. Dairy is a source of Vitamin A and there are also supplements available, although these should only be taken under professional guidance as they can be toxic in high quantities.
To book an appointment with Kate, email email@example.com or visit the Calmer Clinics website. £85 for one hour initial consultation and £60 per half hour follow up. calmerclinics.wordpress.com