Diet is definitely a dirty word these days - connotations of restriction, yo-yo weight loss, disordered eating and fads - it’s hard to find someone who’d celebrate “dieting”. However, wellness regimes, detoxes, going “you name it”-free is everywhere. Much easier to say “oh I’ve gone paleo” or “I’m going gluten-free” or “I’m trying keto” or “I’m doing Gwyneth’s path to wellness” than uttering the d-word. A few google searches of such diets and detoxes will mean your social media is littered with options - usually attached to an influencer or three - all claiming to help you cleanse, detox, reset (oh, and lose some weight while you’re at it).
Any new eating regime should be embarked upon carefully, taking into consideration your lifestyle and needs as well as any medical history, as well as making sure that wherever you are restricting you also ensure you gain the needed nutrients from the food you’re missing. Vitamins and supplements can be an excellent way to support a new eating regime - so here’s a gallery walk of some of 2023’s most popular wellbeing lifestyles, and the vitamins and supplements that best pair with your choice.
- The palaeolithic “paleo” Diet: Often known as the “caveman” or or Stone-Age diet, this diet takes us back to the world of our ancestors, encouraging us to eat (and live) the way the hunter-gatherers did. From shunning a sedentary modern lifestyle and promoting activity (preferably outdoors), the paleo diet claims to be an antidote to obesity, early onset heart disease and diabetes. But more than living like cavemen, the paleo diet asks us to eat like cavemen - no sugar, no simple carbohydrates and absolutely no processed foods (where would cavemen have processed their candy?). Eating whole foods only - ethically sourced meat, fruits, vegetables, seeds, eggs and fish - just like you were roaming the planet instead of commuting, scrolling instagram and submitting reports. While this is a nutrient-heavy way of life, there are definitely some vitamins and supplements that can help boost the benefits of the paleo lifestyle. These include:
- Vitamin D: While paleo life includes such foods as fish, eggs, and organ meats, which are all good sources of vitamin D, depending on your geographic location and sun exposure, you may still need to supplement with vitamin D to ensure adequate intake.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: If you don't consume fish regularly (our best source of omega-3 fatty acids), you may benefit from taking an omega-3 supplement to help support healthy inflammation levels and brain function.
- Probiotics: For those with digestive issues or if you are looking to support your gut health, taking a probiotic supplement may be beneficial.
- Magnesium: While nuts and seeds can give us a magnesium boost (big players in the paleo world), magnesium supplements may help - especially if you’re not a big nut and seed consumer.
Ketogenic “keto” diet: the wildly popular keto diet is all about very, very low carb eating replaced instead with protein and fats, to help the body rely on fat burning for energy. While it may have some benefits for diabetes, cancer, Alzheimers and epilepsy, the keto diet is promoted mostly for weight loss and healthier living. From LeBron James to Melissa McCarthy, celebs and people worldwide have experienced body transformations from the keto diet. Heavily reducing carbohydrate intake puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis. When this happens, your body becomes an expert at burning fat for energy. It also turns fat into ketones in the liver, which can supply energy for the brain, as well as reduce blood sugar and insulin levels.
Due to the restricted nature of the keto diet, the support of vitamins and supplements can be very important to ensuring you are covered, nutrient-wise. The following may be useful:
- Electrolytes: Electrolyte imbalances are common on the keto diet, due to the diuretic effect of ketosis. Ensure you are consuming appropriate electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium, and magnesium, in order to help prevent dehydration and maintain proper fluid balance.
- Vitamin D: vitamin D is mainly found in fatty fish, egg yolks, and fortified foods which may be limited when following strict keto. Taking a vitamin D supplement can help ensure adequate intake of this important vitamin.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: The ketogenic diet tends to be high in omega-6 fatty acids, which are found in vegetable oils and processed foods, and low in omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fatty fish and other seafood. Taking an omega-3 supplement can help balance out the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids.
- Fibre: Due to the low-carb nature of the keto diet, it may also be low in fibre. Supplementing with a fibre supplement or consuming high-fibre foods, such as flaxseed or chia seeds, can help support healthy digestion.
- Multivitamin: Taking a daily multivitamin is recommended to ensure adequate intake of essential vitamins and minerals that may be lacking in the diet.
- Going vegan: a number of reasons can account for the rise of veganism in recent years. Plant-based health benefits, concerns about animal cruelty in the agricultural and farming industry, environmental activism and sustainability are common grounds for a shift to the vegan lifestyle. But veganism is an extreme shift in the modern diet, and can lead to nutritional deficiencies if not carefully managed. A planned series of vitamins and supplements can help manage possible nutritional deficits when moving to a vegan lifestyle.
- Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 is essential for the proper functioning of the nervous system, as well as for the formation of red blood cells. As a vegan, it may be difficult to get enough B12 from your diet alone since it is found primarily in animal-based foods. Therefore, it is recommended that vegans take a B12 supplement or consume B12-fortified foods.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D is necessary for bone health and immune function, and it can be difficult to get enough vitamin D from food sources, especially if you live in a northern climate with limited sunlight exposure. A vegan-friendly vitamin D3 supplement may be helpful.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for brain and heart health, and they can be found in high amounts in fatty fish. As a vegan, you can get omega-3s from plant-based sources such as flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts, but it may be beneficial to take an algae-based omega-3 supplement to ensure you are getting enough.
- Iron: Iron is important for the formation of red blood cells and oxygen transport in the body. While plant-based foods contain iron, it is less easily absorbed than iron from animal sources. Therefore, vegans may need to consume more iron-rich foods or consider taking an iron supplement if they are at risk for iron deficiency.
- Zinc: Zinc is important for immune function, wound healing, and cell growth and division. Plant-based sources of zinc include legumes, nuts, and seeds, but it may be helpful to take a zinc supplement if your diet is lacking in these foods.
So whether you’re changing diets to lose weight, to “detox” the gut, to cleanse your system, for animal rights reasons or simply to be more intentional about your choices around food, it’s always worth doing your research. Make sure you know where your diet might be cutting out essential nutrients, and consider a course of vitamins and supplements to ensure optimal health. It is important to note that before starting any supplements, you should consult with a healthcare provider or registered dietitian to determine your specific nutrient needs and to ensure that you are not exceeding safe levels of any particular nutrient.
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