Term Paper: Omniverous vs. Vegan Diet Omnivorous

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OMNIVEROUS vs. VEGAN DIET

Omnivorous vs. vegan

A low-carbohydrate, high protein omnivorous diet vs. A low-protein, low fat vegan diet:

What is superior for diabetics?

The vegan diet has become extremely fashionable, thanks to endorsements by celebrities and Bill Clinton's much-publicized weight loss following heart surgery, which he attributed to his vegan diet. The escalating obesity epidemic in America and subsequent spike in type II diabetes have left many nutritionists searching for answers as to what is the best diet to follow to promote health, particularly for overweight persons with or at risk for diabetes (Davis 2011). However, the scientific evidence regarding the health-promoting effects of a vegan diet is questionable and no study has confirmed that a vegan diet is inherently superior to a healthy omnivorous diet heal chronic conditions [THESIS]. If anything, because of its low satiety and high carbohydrate content, a vegan diet has many reasons to be contraindicated for certain medical conditions such as type II diabetes. Weight loss is one of the primary goals for most type II diabetes patients (Davis 2009: 257). Decreasing the intake of dietary carbohydrate and increasing protein intake has been found in a series of studies to promote weight loss and glycemic stability. A vegan diet, which eliminates all forms of animal protein and substitutes them with inevitably high-carbohydrate sources of protein such as soy, legumes, and wheat gluten (seitan) is neither necessary or prudent while a low-carbohydrate diet consisting of minimal refined grains, lean meats, and non-starchy vegetables has been proven to support improvements in the conditions of even persons with full-blown diabetes.

It is true that according to Barnard (et al. 2009), in a study where type II diabetics were randomly assigned either a vegan diet or the standard diet recommended by the American Diabetes Association and both diets resulted in weight reduction and reductions in 'bad' cholesterol levels (Barnard 2009). Given that both diets were substantively lower in calories than the standard American diet (SAD), the weight loss is not surprising. But one problem with this study is that the standard ADA diet is not necessarily low in carbohydrates, and high-carbohydrate diets have been increasingly targeted as the source of the increase in the nation's obesity epidemic. The ADA exchange system suggests a mere 20% protein (Davis 2009: 259).

However, a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found from the years 1971-2006 in the U.S., obesity increased from 11.9% to 33.4% amongst men; 16.6% to 36.5% amongst women and was accompanied by a percentage increase in carbohydrate consumption from 44.0% to 48.7%" (Austin et al. 2011). Thanks to the fat-phobia of recent decades, the percentage of energy from fat decreased from 36.6% to 33.7%, and the percentage of energy from protein decreased from 16.5% to 15.7% (Austin et al. 2011: 1). The authors of the study recommended not simply a decrease in overall energy intake (calories) but to increase the number of calories from protein and healthy fats. The findings of the AJCN should not be underestimated, given the significant correlation between an increase in weight and the heightened prevalence of type II diabetes and the effects weight loss can have upon stabilizing blood glucose levels (Austin et al. 2011: 2-3). Type II diabetes was once colloquially known as adult-onset diabetes, because it was confined to overweight, middle-aged and older patients, but given the rise in BMI amongst children and adolescents, has become more prevalent nation-wide (Austin et al. 2011). The higher the proportion of calories from protein vs. carbohydrates of a study participant, the less inclined he or she was to be obese, indicating that because a high-protein diet tends to be less hunger-inducing it results in reduced consumption of calories and weight loss (Austin et al. 2011: 8).

Vegan diets are notably higher their carbohydrate content: a meal of beans and rice is significantly higher than a meal of baked chicken, for example, even though both constitute complete proteins. Even if vegan diets may result in a swifter reduction in blood cholesterol than lower-fat omnivorous diets, there is a concern regarding the extent to which they can spike both insulin levels and hunger levels. For more than a century low-carbohydrate diets were always suggested as the best diabetic meal plan (Acheson 2012). Even if insulin can control the negative spikes in blood sugar caused by carbohydrate ingestion, no medication can provide perfect control, and a high-carbohydrate diet could put diabetics at increased risk.

The ADA began to recommend a higher carbohydrate intake for diabetics due to the wave of 'fat-phobia' in the medical community after saturated fats became associated with cardiovascular disease and high-carbohydrate, low fat and low protein diets were suggested instead as 'healthier' meal plans ( Acheson 2012). Higher rates of obesity in the U.S. have caused widespread questioning of such recommendations. "There is increasing evidence that diets with a lower, or even very-low, carbohydrate content can help overweight and obese individuals to lose and maintain lost weight, diabetics to control blood glucose with more ease and prevent the development of diabetic complications, while at the same time improving blood lipid profiles and biomarkers of cardiovascular risk" (Acheson 2010). In fact, a comparative study of patients on a low-carbohydrate diet vs. A low-fat, low-calorie diet indicated superior benefits for the former group, even though both groups lost weight. In a study of 307 obese participants, the low-carbohydrate diet group had greater reductions in diastolic blood pressure and triglyceride levels and a substantially higher increase in good (HDL) cholesterol (Foster 2010: 155).

Another study of 137 participants found the low-carbohydrate group lost more bodily fat and had reduced cholesterol levels, more so than either the high or even the moderate-carbohydrate group (Wal et al. 2007). In another study of obese patients, after only fourteen days of a low carbohydrate diet, low-carbohydrate dieters had improved insulin stability and glycemic control as well as lower body weight, body fat, and lower levels of triglycerides and total cholesterol (Davis 2009: 257). A longitudinal study of 22 months found that in the low-carbohydrate group the need for insulin and other diabetic medications were eliminated or greatly decreased in the majority of the patients (Davis 2009: 257).

Thus, a diet rich in low-carbohydrate sources of protein (such as meat and eggs) have actually been found to accelerate weight loss rather than inhibit it, and improve heart health (diabetics are at increased risk for heart disease as well as blood sugar instability). Moreover, there are notable problems in obtaining adequate levels of B-12 with a vegan diet. A literature review of 18 articles on the effects of the vegan diet found that B-12 deficiencies amongst vegans as a whole were as high as 62% for pregnant women; as much as 86% for children, up to 41% for adolescents, and 90% for elderly patients (Pawlak 2013: 110). The longer the person had adopted a vegan diet, the higher the likelihood of a deficiency, and deficiencies were notably higher amongst vegans vs. vegetarians (who do ingest some forms of animal protein in the form of eggs and dairy products). Given that diabetics are at increased risk of dietary deficiencies and have the additional burdens of managing their blood glucose levels, versus the rest of the population, low B-12 is of great concern (Pawlak 2013: 110).

Although a low-calorie vegan diet may be temporarily effective in reducing serum cholesterol and weight, the overall evidence indicates that a low-carbohydrate diet in the long-term is preferred in improving glycemic control and controlling weight (Davis 2009). Moreover, the lower levels of satiety in a vegan diet and the lower levels of bioavailable protein make it difficult to follow for patients who are already struggling with weight control, which is the case with most type II diabetes (Austin 2011). The additional social difficulties of adjusting… [END OF PREVIEW]

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