Have you heard of flexitarianism? While vegetarian and vegan lifestyles have penetrated society with force, there’s a growing group of people that we can consider flexitarians. Are you familiar with the term? Would you like to discover the benefits of flexitarianism? Stick around!
This term is quite recent. Specifically, it refers to being flexible with your diet. So, you may already belong to this group of people without even knowing it. Find out more in the article below.
What is flexitarianism?
s are those who base their eating patterns on a vegetarian diet, but also sometimes consume meat. This means that they also eat fish, seafood, and poultry.
As vegetarianism is on the rise, some of those starting this lifestyle start out by going flexitarian first. Thus, they gradually stop eating meat until they eliminate it completely in the future.
Also, we can include in this group those who aren’t meat lovers and decide to eat it only on special occasions. Or for example, those who consume fish and seafood, but not beef.
To be clear, this is not a sub-group within the vegetarian diet. The latter have solid ethical reasons why they don’t consume animal meat under any circumstance. However, for flexitarians, ingesting them doesn’t represent a transgression to their lifestyle and, therefore, they don’t feel guilty about it.
What are the benefits of flexitarianism?
Several studies have suggested that basing nutrition on vegetables offers a number of health benefits. Of course, this should be within the context of a diet balanced in nutrients and according to each individual. Likewise, these effects take place when individuals limit the intake of processed, fried, and harmful substances, such as alcohol and cigarettes.
Below, we’ll detail the positive impact of flexitarianism on the body.
1. Prevents the appearance of cardiovascular disease
Cardiovascular disease is a serious global public health problem. In fact, it’s the leading cause of death in industrialized countries. It the consequence of the accumulation of saturated fat and cholesterol–nutrients that are abundant in red meat and meat products– in the arteries.
In this sense, the evidence suggests that a plant-based dietary pattern, such as flexitarianism, helps individuals avoid non-transmissible pathologies. Not only do we benefit because the consumption of unhealthy fats is lower, but also because antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that are capable of improving vascular health predominate.
2. Against obesity and diabetes
Obesity and type 2 diabetes are pathologies of metabolic origin that have as a risk factor an inadequate diet. According to data expressed in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition, this dietary style is related to a lower risk of suffering from these diseases.
In fact, the above study revealed that body mass index (BMI) was within the normal parameters in the vegetarian and flexitarian groups, in comparison to omnivores. An adequate BMI is a protective factor against chronic pathologies of the vital organs.
3. Prevents the appearance of intestinal pathologies
Crohn’s disease and colon rectal cancer are related to an excessive intake of red meat, sausages, and fatty products. Therefore, this type of diet has a preventive effect against them.
Likewise, eating natural foods also keeps the structures of the digestive tract healthy and the microbiota in balance. In this way, it reduces the appearance of intestinal candidiasis and the formation of diverticula, which are bags or dilations that form in the intestinal wall and can become inflamed.
4. Prevents kidney and gallstones
In general, the consumption of excess proteins, especially those of animal origin, induces the elimination of calcium, uric acid, and oxalic acid through the urine. These substances are the fundamental components in the appearance of kidney stones.
In addition, they are also linked to the regular intake of unhealthy cholesterol and fat, typical of meat diets. In relation to this, reducing the consumption of meat can protect kidney health.
As you’ll have seen, the benefits of flexitarianism are numerous. Since it’s plant-based, the contribution of dietary fiber, anti-inflammatory substances, and antioxidants is high. Therefore, it helps prevent the typical diseases that appear in western diets.
However, it should be noted that, like any diet, it’s crucial to achieve a proper balance in nutrients and customize the diet for each particular individual. Therefore, if you want to start this type of diet, you should first consult with a nutrition professional for advice on the subject.