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The Vegan diet and lifestyle is one that has been around for decades at this point, however, over the last few years it has grown tenfold in public consciousness with most chain restaurants and businesses offering and promoting vegan alternatives. This movement has had its praises and its detractions, daily for the ideas around veganism. Despite this though, it is not all that common to see a look at the diet of veganism and what it can do for us both positively and negatively. So, here is where we talk about the research around the impact of a vegan diet on our bodies and our brains.
In 2018, Draper looked at the popular social media challenge at the time of going vegan for 48 hours and actually found that this challenge could have a great impact on many bodily functions such as cholesterol control as well as a great impact on our metabolic rate.
In the same year, Van Rensburg wrote an article which highlights the importance of an appropriately planned vegan diet and how if this is followed can significantly lower the risk of many health problems such as heart problems and digestion issues .
Young (2012) also looked at the vegan diet and its impact on health and found that there is a correlation present between switching to a vegan diet after a cancer diagnosis and the decreased chance of recurrence further down the road. In all of this examples, the emphasis is placed very much on the right type of vegan diet.
In regards to correlations, Matta (2018) found in their paper that any exclusion of food groups from a diet can lead to an increased prevalence of depressive symptoms and strongly encouraged against the vegan diet for anyone suffering with poor mental health.
Losasso (2018) discussed dietary choices among vegans and argued that just adopting the label of vegan does not mean you are healthy and that many vegan diets out there are actually less healthy than omnivore diets. It is still important to eat well and eat proportionally and this is a fact that is sometimes overlooked when someone transitions into a vegan diet.
Back in 2009, Jamieson talked about the emerging Youtube community and how many videos were coming out with “quick and easy” ways to be a vegan. He also spoke about how many people do not realise that becoming vegan is a challenge for many people and requires a high level of planning.
Obviously, the impact of veganism goes a lot deeper than these few examples, however just here we can see the difference in opinions that exist about the diet. The one common denominator that seems to exist among all research is the importance of planning and awareness. The vegan diet can be very positive for some people when used correctly, however there are those out there who see it as a trend and go vegan without any research into it and usually they notice a deterioration in their health.
Draper, C.F., Vassallo, I., Di Cara, A., Milone, C., Comminetti, O., Monnard, I., Godin, J.P., Scherer, M., Su, M., Jia, W. and Guiraud, S.P., (2018). A 48‐Hour Vegan Diet Challenge in Healthy Women and Men Induces a BRANCH‐Chain Amino Acid Related, Health Associated, Metabolic Signature. Molecular nutrition & food research, 62(3), p.1700703.
Losasso, C., Eckert, E.M., Mastrorilli, E., Villiger, J., Mancin, M., Patuzzi, I., Di Cesare, A., Cibin, V., Barrucci, F., Pernthaler, J. and Corno, G., (2018). Assessing the influence of vegan, vegetarian and omnivore oriented Westernized dietary styles on human gut microbiota: a cross sectional study. Frontiers in microbiology, 9, p.317.
Matta, J., Czernichow, S., Kesse-Guyot, E., Hoertel, N., Limosin, F., Goldberg, M., Zins, M. and Lemogne, C., (2018). Depressive symptoms and vegetarian diets: results from the constances cohort. Nutrients, 10(11), p.1695.
Jamieson, A., (2009). Living Vegan For Dummies. John Wiley & Sons.
Van Rensburg, L.M.J., (2018). The Opinion of KwaZulu-Natal Dieticians Regarding the Use of a Whole Foods Plant Based Vegan Diet in the Management of Non-communicable Diseases (Doctoral dissertation, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg).
Young, L.R., (2012). Vegan Diet Preventing Recurrence of Breast Cancer.
Physical Activity has experienced a vast increase in marketing in the last few years, with several different initiatives and campaigns aimed to get different groups involved with organised and personal activities, such as children or groups with language barriers. The one group that has seen the most increase in specific courses and plans aimed at them is people with a disability. It is easy to see why it is not easy for this group to get involved with the standard exercise schemes offered, however, recently it has been clear that with a few tweaks anyone can get involved with a plan that suits them.
In a study carried out by Motl and McAuley (2010) for the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinics Journal, they pointed out how the biggest encouragement for trainers at that time was to offer a more specified programme for both older adults and people with a disability as the demand for these was so high. This is because these are groups that are commonly ignored when talking about organised physical activity. It was also found that happiness levels measured in both trainers and clients were elevated after involvement in plans such as these.
In 2004, Rummer et al. pointed out several barriers which they believed stopped people with disabilities engaging in physical activity. One barrier was the lack of equipment designed to their specific needs. Another was the lack of information available to this group for how to plan exercise for them. The biggest barrier however appeared to be the perceptions and attitudes of other people and over 40% of people in this group claimed that this hindered them. The researchers have since reviewed this study and stated that in the last decade all of these barriers have largely diminished and the same group study feel more confident in engaging in any type of activity than they did at the time of the first study.
Van der Ploeg et al. (2004) pointed out that the most searched for area of exercise that year in Holland was exercise for people with a disability. As a result of this, they created the PAD model (Physical Activity for people with a Disability). This model has been used ever since and offers little adjustments that can be made to a vast array of exercise plans to cater them towards the needs of people with different disabilities. It also offers great awareness tips for all trainers to think about.
We can clearly see that attitudes and efforts towards exercise for people with a disability have improved drastically over the last few years and we can hope that it gets even better in years to come. If this field is of interest to you and you would like to be more aware and learn how to get more involved, we are currently offering a Level 3 Award in Designing Exercise Programmes for Disabled Clients as well as the Level 3 Award in Designing Exercise Programmes for Older Adults.
Motl, R.W. and McAuley, E., (2010). Physical activity, disability, and quality of life in older adults. Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinics, 21(2), pp.299-308.
Rimmer, J.H., Riley, B., Wang, E., Rauworth, A. and Jurkowski, J., (2004). Physical activity participation among persons with disabilities: barriers and facilitators. American journal of preventive medicine, 26(5), pp.419-425.
Van der Ploeg, H.P., Van der Beek, A.J., Van der Woude, L.H. and van Mechelen, W., (2004). Physical activity for people with a disability. Sports medicine, 34(10), pp.639-649.
This last year, we have seen an incredible increase in what is known as Habit-Breaking Behaviour. This is the conscious effort to try and reduce or eliminate any behaviour seen by the person themselves as negative. Here, I will lay out a few tips and observations found in research over the past 30 years for anyone who has a habit that they are trying to kick. Most research focuses on the two most popular habits which are drinking and smoking, however it has been found that these apply to the majority of behaviours that are perceived as negative.
- Quitting multiple things at once
It is usually encouraged for people to try and kick one habit of theirs before moving onto another. However, multiple papers including a paper by Gulliver (2006) found that focusing on two habits, for example drinking and smoking, may in fact make it easier to quit both than simply focusing on one at a time. It is argued that this is due to the brain treating the two as one task and so you are able to exercise greater willpower to help fight cravings.
2. Activity Replacement
A lot of articles exist out there that encourage you to exercise to help eliminate bad habits and while that is true it does not solely need to be exercise you engage in. Jager (2003) focused on replacement of habits with something the person perceived as positive change and how greatly this varies from person to person. For some people this could be exercise but for others it could be things such as meditation, writing, listening to music or calling friends. As long as your brain views it as a positive activity it is guaranteed to give your brain a helping hand eliminating cravings and managing potential slip ups.
The most important thing to consider when trying to kick habits is also the most overlooked. The greatest change happens as a result of your choice to make it happen, according to Sanchez-Craig (1990). Outside pressures usually hinder your ability to make a change as it has to come from you. This is why it is so important to know that you are ready to make a change before committing to it and that regressing in your plan is not the end of the world, just a sign that you need to try again until you are fully ready to kick the habit, which may take several attempts, but you will get there.
We all have habits we wish we could get rid of but when we want it to be more than a wish it is important that we do it in a way that is right for us. Nowadays there is an abundance of self help articles out there focused on helping you become the best version of you. But, the only person who knows what the best version of you is is you.
Jager, W., (2003). Breaking bad habits: a dynamical perspective on habit formation and change. Human Decision-Making and Environmental Perception–Understanding and Assisting Human Decision-Making in Real Life Settings. Libor Amicorum for Charles Vlek, Groningen: University of Groningen.
Gulliver, S.B., Kamholz, B.W. and Helstrom, A.W., (2006). Smoking cessation and alcohol abstinence: what do the data tell us?. Alcohol Research & Health, 29(3), p.208.
SANCHEZ‐CRAIG, M.A.R.T.H.A., (1990). Brief didactic treatment for alcohol and drug‐related problems: an approach based on client choice. British Journal of Addiction, 85(2), pp.169-177.