What is the flexitarian diet?

Have you heard of the flexitarian diet? It is a model that has become quite fashionable due to its positive impact on health.

The flexitarian diet is a dietary model that has the foundations of a vegan diet, although it provides greater variety. This guideline is based on the possibility of sticking to a vegetable consumption during the week to include food from animals on special occasions or during the weekend, but always trying to minimize animal suffering.

This model proposes the intake of eggs and dairy products and, sometimes, fish . Thus, it relegates meat to specific moments and celebrations and advocates the consumption of organic, environmentally friendly products. It is a diet that is capable of meeting nutritional requirements, while maintaining the health of the environment.

The flexitarian diet, a sustainable model

One of the characteristics of the flexitarian diet is that it proposes a higher protein intake of high biological value than the strict vegan models. These nutrients are the basis for ensuring proper muscle health, as stated by research published in the journal Nutrients . Therefore, a correct protein intake helps prevent problems related to lean mass, such as sarcopenia.

Despite the fact that most of the protein in the flexitarian diet comes from foods of plant origin, in many cases eggs and dairy are present , which ensures a continuous supply of essential amino acids with good digestibility. For this reason, this dietary model is not considered risky as far as protein intake is concerned, as is the case with vegan diets.

Greater contribution of vitamin B12

Another drawback of strict vegan diets is the need to supplement with vitamin B12, since this micronutrient is only found in foods of animal origin . A deficiency of this vitamin determines the appearance of anemia in the medium term, according to a study published in the journal American Family Physician .

However, the flexitarian diet is not deficient in this nutrient, since it contains foods such as eggs, with high amounts of vitamin B12. However, this diet continues to present the risk of not meeting the requirements of vitamin D , since this substance does not present a good assimilation at the dietary level.

The best way to avoid maintaining low levels of this vitamin is to ensure frequent exposure to sunlight. Otherwise, and even increasing the intake of eggs and oily fish, supplementation is usually necessary. Through the production of vitamin D, bone health is improved and systemic inflammation is reduced.

A respectful model

Despite its differences with the traditional vegan diet, the flexitarian diet continues to present that ethical component when it comes to fighting for sustainable consumption . In this model, the intake of local foods of ecological origin, always fresh, is prioritized.

Likewise, it is committed to a reduction in the consumption of ultra – processed substances , capable of worsening the state of health due to their content of sugars, trans fats and additives. In addition, local trade is always prioritized, which improves the conditions of the producers in the area.

In this sense, it is always committed to organic food , grown with the least amount of pesticides and chemicals possible. Although the “good appearance” of food is sacrificed, it gains in organoleptic characteristics and health, since the absence of additives helps to improve the functioning of the body’s physiological systems.

Improve health with the flexitarian diet

It is clear that the flexitarian diet contributes to improving the health of those who adhere to this dietary model. In spite of everything, a correct approach is necessary to ensure a constant supply of high-quality protein .

At the same time, vitamin D levels must be monitored to avoid deficiencies. As we mentioned previously, supplementation may be necessary in this regard.

The advantages of this feeding pattern are several, while among the defects we can highlight that it is more expensive. Accessing organic products or consuming in local shops usually requires a higher expense, since by avoiding production chains, the price adjustment is less. While you cannot find food as cheaply as in a supermarket, it may be worth the effort.


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