Have You Heard of the Flexitarian Diet?By Paul Rothbart
It seems that there is always some new diet on the horizon. They usually have catchy names and promise rapid weight loss and improved health by focusing on one type of food or food group. Most of them are fads that don't actually and they fade away to be replaced by the latest new diet craze. One you may not have heard of is the flexitarian diet, created by registered dietary nutritionist Dawn Jackson Blatner. It's essentially a modified vegetarian diet that is flexible enough to allow some meat. The name is a combination of the words "flexible" and "vegetarian". This one may have some merit.
U.S. News and World Report ranked the flexitarian diet as the third-best of 2019. It's easy to follow as it is based on five food groups. The first is called new meat and consists of protein from non-meat sources such as eggs, nuts, and beans. The other groups are whole grains, dairy, fruits and vegetables, and sugar and spice. The diet is not strict in these categories and some flexitarians forgo dairy and eggs, while others do eat meat once or twice a week.
For beginners who have never tried a meatless diet, the recommendation is to start with two meatless days per week. On the other five days, the total meat consumption should be 26 ounces or less. Following this diet for several months prepares you for the more advanced plan.
The Advanced Plan
Upon reaching the advanced level, the dieter now consumes meat only 3-4 times per week with a total of no more than 18 ounces. Protein is obtained through plant or egg sources. After several months at the advanced level, you are ready for the expert level. This highest tier only allows meat two days per week and a total of nine ounces or less. The two days that include meat may be consecutive or non-consecutive at the preference of the dieter.
Plant-based diets may reduce the risk of heart disease according to the American Heart Association. Less meat consumption can lead to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, both of which improve heart health. A review published in The Journal of Geriatric Cardiology stated that plant-based diets may help prevent heart failure. There is also research that shows flexitarians may live on average 3.6 years longer than those who consume meat regularly.
The world is filled with diets of all kinds. Most are unproven, but the flexitarian diet does have research to support it. It may be worth a try to improve your health and lengthen your lifespan.
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