Below are a list of common terms and questions. I will be building this page out as an ongoing glossary of terms to help you better understand the blogs, interviews and eating guides on the Plant Proof website.
A true plant-based diet consists of foods which are 100% free from any animal products. Specifically, this means free from any animal meats, fish, dairy or eggs. A tricky part of sticking to a complete plant-food diet is reviewing labels in store and knowing how to order when at a cafe/restaurant or other for establishment as quite often animal products are hidden in foods that you may think are 100% plant-based. Finally, a true plant-based diet can also be described as vegan. These descriptive terms are generally interchangeable, however some people use plant-based to describe a more whole foods type of diet whereas vegan can be used to describe a diet that consists of any foods (whether wholefoods or processed) that do not contain animal products. Typically ‘vegans’ are also more conscious of other animal products in their life outside of food – leather, fur, cosmetics etc.
A pescatarian diet is one where you do not consume beef, chicken, poultry or other meats other than fish. Pescatarians may or may not consume eggs or dairy products.
A vegetarian diet is one where you avoid all animal meats but still consume dairy products and/or eggs.
Prebiotics are non-digestible fermented foods (fibre) which help promote the growth and strength of healthy bacteria in your digestive system. Think of them as the fertiliser that allows this good bacteria to flourish, which in term then makes your digestive system more efficient and effective when processing digestible foods for nutrition. Some foods that are naturally rich in prebiotics include Jerusalem artichoke, chicory root, gum arabic, dandelion greens, dry garlic, dry leek, dry onion, raw asparagus, raw banana and cooked whole wheat flour. The best way to get prebiotics is by eating the above foods, however you can also buy Inulin powder (common name for a prebiotic powder blend) at many health food stores and more commonly, we are seeing supplement companies add probiotics to their protein powders, greens powders, etc. You should be aiming for 4-10g of prebiotic per day if you have a healthy digestive system or 10-15g per day if you have an active digestive disorder.
Probiotics on the other hand are actual micro-organisms (bacteria) that you consume which then pass into your intestines and help create a more efficient and effective system. Some great plant-based probiotics sources are Kraut (Sauerkraut), Kimchi, Kombucha (homemade is always superior), a lot of coconut/soy yogurts add prebiotic cultures (check the labels), Kefir, Miso Soup and Tempeh. As mentioned with prebiotics, many supplement brands are now adding probiotics into their protein and greens formulas – you should always refrigerate any product that contains probiotics once opened to avoid this healthy bacteria from dying. I, personally, put Kraut/Kimchi on most of my Buddha bowls I eat and regularly consume Tempeh and plant-based yogurts that contain these live cultured probiotics. If you are eating 2-3 meals a day with a probiotic ingredient then you should not need to rely on supplementation.
B12 is important for a healthy nervous system, immune function, metabolism + DNA synthesis. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Vitamin B12 is the only vitamin which is not recognised as being reliably supplied from a balanced plant-based diet. Plants, animals + funghi cannot synthesise B12 on their own – it is synthesised by bacteria + thus is commonly found in soil/dirt. Historically humans had been getting sufficient B12 by eating plants that still had B12 rich soil on them, however with today’s hygiene standards in our grocery stores, the fruits/veggies are so clean that they are devoid of B12. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
A common question from here is – if you require B12 on a vegan diet, then this way of eating must be unnatural/incomplete or less natural than eating meat? Most commercial farms these days feed their stock B12 supplements too, as like us they need B12 to survive + when they are locked up and not grazing fields they are also missing B12 in their diet. Beyond that, if you eat meat to get your B12 you have to also consume the saturated animal fats, hormones + cholesterol (and often antibiotics) which come along for the ride. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
So where can you get your B12 from? Studies have shown the only reliable sources are products that contain fortified B12 or B12 supplements. As B12 isn’t something to mess around with I take a supplement daily – this is the Plant Proof recommended way to get your B12 if you are vegan or eat minimal animal products. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
In terms of the different Vitamin B12 supplement forms on the market, I recommend Methylcobalamin as compared to Cyanocobalamin it is active and generally has higher bioavailability. RDI is 2.4 micrograms/day. ⠀⠀⠀⠀
What are essential fatty acids? These are healthy fats our body cannot produce & thus we rely on the foods we eat to get them. You may know these better as Omega 3 and 6’s. In the common western diet, we over consume Omega 6’s and under consume Omega 3’s – this trend has been documented over the past 150 years. By throwing this ratio out of whack, we put ourselves at risk of a number of health issues including: ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
1- Heart disease and other cardiovascular problems ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
3- Dry skin
4- Fatigue, poor memory and concentration ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
5- Mood swings ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
People eating a non plant-based diet typically get these essential fatty acids from fish or fish oil tablets. The fish get the Omegas from the Algae they eat… from a plant 🌱⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
What are some STRONG plant foods we can get Omega 3’s from?
Chia seeds, hemp seeds (perfect omega 3 and 6 ratio – you can see them in my bowl above), Brazil nuts, walnuts, flax seeds, algail oil, hemp oil, flax seed meal, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds. Our body will convert a % of the Omega 3’s in these to the long chain essential fatty acids DHA and EPA – research is now showing vegans actually adapt and get better at this conversion than people eating an animal-based diet that includes fish. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Unsure if you are consuming enough Omega 3 in your diet and wanting to take a supplement? Try a DHA/EPA Algail oil supplement. This is the long chain Omega 3’s in a concentrated form direct from the source (no conversion needed)… cutting out the middle man (fish).⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
GMO means Genetically Modified Organism. Unfortunately in the 1990’s, a number of farmers begun genetically modifying plants, particularly crops (up to 85% of the world’s soy beans), so they could withstand pesticides and insects. The research to support GMO foods as being safe is inconclusive. Given they are able to withstand massive amounts of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides which are poisons, Plant Proof recommends to steer clear of them until further research is conducted to prove they are safe for consumption over a long period of time.
The PH level measures how acidic or alkaline something is on a scale of 0 to 14. 0 is completely acidic and 14 is completely alkaline. The body generally sits in a slightly alkaline state at around 7.35-7.45. Unfortunately, poor eating habits (acidic foods like meat, dairy and processed foods) can shift the PH lower.
Science shows an alkaline body is less likely to develop all sorts of diseases, illnesses and weight gain. People who stick to eating mainly alkaline foods/meals (70% + of their diet) typically have more energy, sleep better and develop less disease. When you eat a balanced whole food plant-based diet, you naturally shift your body into an alkaline state as many of the most acidic foods are not consumed (meat, dairy, processed foods, etc).
The top foods/drinks that promote an alkaline body are fruits and vegetables, raw foods, alkaline water and green drinks (smoothies). Chlorophyll can be found in almost all green vegetables and algae and promotes alkalinity.
An antioxidant is a molecule that prevents free radical (potentially harmful molecules) from oxidising within our body. These free radicals are unstable and are searching for electrons to create balance. Antioxidant molecules unselfishly donate electrons to stabilise the free radical molecules in the body, thus counteracting their negative results, without becoming free radicals themselves.
Vitamin E and Vitamin C are two examples of antioxidant molecules in our diet.
High antioxidant consumption appears to protect our bodies from developing many types of chronic illnesses and cancers. Foods like berries, green leafy vegetables, tomatoes and carrots are extremely high in antioxidants and are, therefore, super important to include in your daily diet.
Phytonutrients are natural chemicals which plants produce to protect themselves from bugs, fungi, germs and other external threats.
Whilst these are not essential like vitamins and minerals, it is thought that Phytonutrients can help protect humans from many diseases, keep your body functioning most optimally and boost immunity.
There are over 25,000 phytonutrients across all fruits and vegetables, many of which act as antioxidants to stabilise free radical molecules in the body. The most common phytonutrients that you may come across in your reading are:
- Carotenoids (These provide the bright yellow, red and orange pigments in fruits and vegetables – e.g carrots, capsicum/bell peppers)
- Ellagic acid
Oxalic Acid is a naturally occuring molecule found in all foods, and plants, which bind to minerals. Contrary to popular belief, Oxalates are not to be overly feared. By binding to minerals they reduce their ability to be absorbed. Oxalates have a particular affinity for the mineral calcium. Thus for reaching your RDI of calcium it is advised you concentrate on low oxalate greens and other calcium reach foods.