Teresa Mitchell-Paterson is a Senior Nutritional and Naturopathic Lecturer.
There are countless ‘new’ diets that pop up in the media every day. Many trends have emerged vegan, vegetarian, raw vegan, most of which are eliminating the consumption of animal proteins in some way. Interestingly Australians are trending as the third fastest growing vegan market worldwide, closely followed by The United Arab Emirates and China. However there is still a large proportion of the population that still advocate the great Aussie meat tradition, we surpass the United States as one of the highest meat consumers in the world eating approximately 90.20 kilograms of meat per person (2014). Trends shift within the meat bracket, chicken and pork lead the way with less consumption of beef and lamb, driven mainly by health concerns, environmental, economic and cultural factors [1, 2].
Here are some of the benefits of eating a balanced diet:
Plant-based foods have many advantages:
- Rich in antioxidants vitamins and minerals for disease reduction
- Higher in plant chemicals (phytonutrients) resveratrol, beta-carotene, flavonoids, quercetin
- Fibre for gut and bowel health
- Anti-inflammatory to reduce pain
- Lower kilojoules
Animal products have nutritional advantages too:
- Higher quality amino acid complete proteins
- B12, zinc, vitamin D3 for healthy nerves and bone-boosting properties
- Higher and more available heme – iron
- Creatine and taurine for energy reserves in muscle for strength and endurance
Whilst many people are shifting to consuming less animal products, others have adopted a less stringent restriction on dietary adherence via the reductionist movement. It is a concept founded by Brian Kateman and is of interest to many people who cannot, or do not want to stick to the all or nothing principle. The diet advocates improving health whilst caring for the environment.
We are faced with many pop-up diets, food challenges and drop weight quick fixes. Discerning this minefield can be a challenge. With all diets it is best to be in possession of all the facts, the first step is education.
In the Diploma of Nutrition and the Bachelor of Health Science (Clinical Medicine), our main teaching focus is to be critical of the evidence behind the myth. Evaluate and weigh the evidence for the pros and cons of dietary advice and make an informed decision.
The Bachelor programs bring scientific evidence to the real-world assessment of the changes in health via passing diet fads. Of course, this can be a great deal of fun as we work together as a team, lecturer and student to put our critical thinking caps on to study, then address this in real clinical scenarios.
What we study:
- Epidemiology – how much meat is eaten in which country – what are the trends and figures?
- Food science – how does the growth of food impact our environment?
- Nutritional medicine – how does what we eat impact our health and why?
- Science subjects – why do certain foods cause disease and ill health?
Find out how food really impacts health and you will never look at another fad diet again without a knowing smile on your face!
1. Holodny E (2015) Which countries eat the most meat? World Economic Forum [Online] retrieved 29th March 2018
2.2 OECD (2018), Meat consumption (indicator). doi: 10.1787/fa290fd0-en [Online] Retrieved 29 March 2018
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