Why are Plant-Based Diets on the Rise?

Vegetarianism is one of the most popular diet trends recently and generally describes a diet in which one eliminates meat and meat-derived foods. Vegan and vegetarian products or even whole sections are increasingly easy to find in supermarkets. So what’s the appeal?

In fact, there are many reasons people choose to become vegetarians including personal preferences, ecological problems, religious beliefs, and various diseases (especially cardiovascular diseases). With any diet, the main goal should be nutritional adequacy. When compared nutritionally, vegetarians consume more carbohydrates, omega-6 fatty acids, fiber, carotenoids, folate, vitamin C, vitamin E, and magnesium; however, they consume less protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, zinc, and calcium than non-vegetarians. Therefore, vegetarian diets may offer a few advantages including lower levels of saturated fat and cholesterol caused by animal-based foods.

Vegetarianism to Veganism

It’s not a big jump. A vegan diet involves cutting out all animal-based foods such as meat, fish, dairy, eggs, honey, etc. Because of its similarity to vegetarianism, veganism is considered a subclassification of vegetarianism. People choose to be vegan for many of the same reasons they might choose to be vegetarian. Sometimes certain allergies (such as an allergy to egg whites) can also motivate people to go from vegetarianism to veganism.

The vegetarian and vegan portion of the world is estimated at 2%. But do they get what they need? Let’s figure it out!


Protein is an essential macro-nutritent for the body’s building, maintenance, and repairing of tissues. Vegetarians can meet their protein needs through a well planned plant-based diet which includes a variety of grains, legumes, and vegetables.

Omega-3 fatty acids  are good for cardiovascular health, eye health, and brain development. For vegetarians and vegans, they can be found in several plants, especially those which contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), such as walnuts, flaxseed oil, hemp seed, and soybeans.

Vitamin B12 intake is often low for vegans because it is mainly acquired through animal-based foods. Very low B12 levels can cause anemia or nervous system damage. Unfortunately, deficiency symptoms usually take years to manifest, making this a major problem which is also hard to detect.

Although plant-based diets have low levels of iodine, it is possible to maintain a healthy level of iodine. Table salt is often fortified with iodine, and vegetables that grow in deep ocean water (such as seaweeds) are high in iodine. In order to maintain a healthy level of iron, vegetarians and vegans should stay away from phytates, calcium, tea, coffee, and cacao, which all decrease iron absorption. Rich plant sources of iron include dark green vegetables, soy products, legumes, whole grains, dried fruits, nuts, seeds, and unrefined molasses. Consuming these foods is key, and adding food high in vitamin C will enhance absorption.

Zinc is important for the immune system. It is not found in large amounts in plant foods; however the richest plant sources are legumes, nuts, seeds, and oatmeal.

Calcium can be found in dark green vegetables, beans, tofu, tahini, sesame seeds, almonds, figs, seaweeds, unrefined molasses, and fortified soy milks. Keep in mind that phytates and oxalates, which are mainly found in plant foods, can inhibit calcium absorption.

Low Vitamin D blood levels and bone density may be major problems for vegetarians and vegans. This is because vitamin D is necessary for regularizing calcium metabolism.

Nutritional requirements are different for every single person. If any person, whether vegetarian or vegan or omnivorous, has a nutritional deficiency, they should seek the advice of a dietitian and/or doctor in order to meet their dietary needs.

The Most Popular Low Calorie Summer Drink: Smoothie

Recently smoothies have become everyone’s favorite drink. They’re a good alternative beverage, especially for people who are dieting or detoxing, because they have less calories than other beverages and are refreshing in hot weather. Smoothies are favorites for vegans and vegetarians too. And anyone can enjoy smoothies for their joyful colors and refreshing taste.

Smoothies:

  • Are low-calorie
  • Refresh your body
  • Are nourishing
  • Have many antioxidants
  • Are hydrating
  • Are a healthy snack which is easy to prepare
  • Create joyful snack times due to color

5 Tips For Healthier Smoothies

  1. Fruit instead of sugar

Fruits include a natural form of sugar known as ‘fructose’. Adding fruit to sweeten your smoothie instead of sugar is a good idea. But don’t forget to check the serving sizes for the fruits you’re using.

  1. Summer Fruits

In summer we need more water than we drink normally. Summer fruits are perfect to hydrate your body because of their high percentages of water. Adding watermelon to a smoothie is a great choice for summer!

  1. Berries and Cherries

Berries (goji berries, blueberries, acai berries, bilberries, strawberries, blackberries, etc.) and cherries are extremely high in antioxidants. Daily intake can greatly benefit your health, especially in the areas of heart health, cholesterol level, cellular oxidative damage, and many more. Try adding berries and cherries to make your smoothie healthier.

  1. Leafy Green Vegetables

Adding leafy green vegetables such as parsley, fresh mint, and dill makes your smoothie fresher. These kinds of vegetables increase the antioxidant level of your drink and help to reduce swelling of your body. Also, these are a great choice for women during their periods.

 

  1. Dairy Products 

Children and adolescents should be encouraged to consume milk products because they need more calcium for healthy growth. Preparing colorful smoothies with milk can be fun for both parents and children. Many children will be willing to drink milk in their smoothies even they generally don’t like milk. Also, fermented milk products such as yogurt and kefir help to regulate the digestive system. If you have digestive system problems, try adding kefir to your smoothie.

Everyone has their own taste preferences. But with these tips you can prepare your own smoothie and be more energetic for the day. To conclude, here is Vivoo Nutrition Team’s favourite summer smoothie recipe:

Watermelon Smoothie

Ingredients:

1 cup fresh watermelon (cubed and black seeds removed)

1 cup fresh strawberries

1 cup kefir (250 ml)

10-12 leaves fresh mint

  • Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until creamy and smooth
  • You can add more kefir to thin, or more strawberries to thicken.
  • Taste and find what needs to be added. You can add lime for acidity, sweetener for sweetness, or watermelon for a more intense watermelon flavor.
  • Serves 2 / Calories for one serving: 140 

 

The Ultimate Guide to How Much Water You Need

There are many different opinions about how much water we should be drinking every day. One of the most popular ones is to drink 8 glasses of water a day which equals about 2 liters, or half a gallon. This advice is actually a myth.

There’s really no standard amount of water that’s recommended for all people at all times.

It can vary from person to person and depends on many factors. An individual’s fluid needs can change due to exercise, climate, health conditions, pregnancy, and breastfeeding. There’s no doubt about it: Drinking enough water is very important for your overall health.

Our bodies need water for several reasons:

  1. Digesting food
  2. Physical performance
  3. Brain function
  4. Relieving constipation
  5. Weight loss

6 Tips for Being “Water Wise”

Water makes up about 60-70% of your body weight, and every part of your body needs it to function properly. Lack of water alone can cause body systems to slow down and cause you to feel sluggish, tired and irritable. Keep your body healthy by being “water wise.” This means drinking the right amount of water for you.

If you need some extra help consuming enough water, check out these tips for drinking more:

  • Add flavor to your water
  • Carry a water bottle with you wherever you go
  • Avoid sugary drinks
  • Drink water instead of another beverage while out to eat
  • Make water part of your night out
  • Set a timer so you’ll remember to drink

Tracking your water intake

The color of your urine can reveal a lot about the state of your health. Urine can change colors depending on what you are eating, how hydrated you are, and any medications you are taking. Urine color will also allow you to assess your water intake. A light color is always better than a dark color. When your urine turns dark that means you are dehydrated.

An even better way to track your water intake is by measuring urine density using Vivoo which is the high-tech, fashionable wellness app that can help you keep track of your water consumption and more. Understand the voice of your body using the Vivoo app!  It will tell you how much water you should drink for your body to work properly and advise you about healthy choices you can make based on urine strip testing.

How can you track water consumption with VIVOO?

With 4 easy steps, you can start a healthier lifestyle! If you are trying to figure out how much water you should drink, try Vivoo! Make sure you drink enough water throughout the day. Let’s stop wasting time and get started!

First Step : Get your urine strip

Urine is a useful tool for understanding a lot about the human body. A urine test strip is the quickest way to test urine. The test strip which has small square color fields containing reactants on it, is dipped into the urine sample for a few seconds. The results appear after a few minutes. Depending on the concentration of the particular substance you are testing for, the fields on the test strip change color.

Second Step : Use Your Phone

To determine your urine test results, simply scan the strip using the Vivoo app.

Third Step: Receive Personalized Advice

Advice from the Vivoo app can help improve your health. In a matter of seconds, Vivoo can detect several parameters from your urine such as water consumption, infection, kidney & liver functions and more. Vivoo’s wellness tips are based on your test results and are unique to you.

Let’s drink a glass of water and download the Vivoo app 🙂

Vivoo Nutrition Team

Gluten-Free Diets Are Good For Weight Loss?

In recent years, with food tolerance tests becoming easier to reach, you may have heard many people saying “I am allergic to gluten. Gluten makes me gain weight”. But what is the truth? Do gluten-free diets help you with losing weight? In regards to this, what is that thing called gluten? A lot of people do not even know what gluten is when doing gluten-free diets.

Gluten is a kind of protein found in barley, oats, and wheat.

The most efficient researches about gluten-free diets are done on celiac disease patients. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease which causes gluten to harm the small intestine. It is a disease seen in one in a hundred. When celiac patients consume gluten the small intestine is harmed and is unable to absorb the nutrients out of foods properly. This causes their immune system to fail in time.

A research done in the United Kingdom in 2013 shows that 69% percent of the underweight people with celiac disease gained weight only after they were “diagnosed with the Celiac Disease”. Also, it has been observed that 18% of the overweight and 42% of the obese people with celiac disease lost weight after they were diagnosed with the disease. However, another study done in 2006 in the United Kingdom shows that 81% of the people who were diagnosed with the celiac disease gained weight.There are many inconsistencies in the studies that have been done, therefore, speaking with any certainty is not possible.Therefore, we can definitively say that gluten-free diet does not guarantee weight loss. It may cause you to lose weight, it may keep you the same, or it may cause you to gain weight…

Gluten-free diet does not mean low-calorie diet.

If it did, all the people with celiac disease would have no problems with their weight. The amount of food you eat is as important as what you eat. If you start eating gluten-free but eat a large portion of cornbread every day, you do not lose weight.

Peter Gibson, who is known for his researches on gluten sensitivity claims that the cause of the problem may not be gluten, but it may be the pesticide used on wheat; glyphosate. According to World Health Organization (WHO) glyphosate may cause depression, diabetes, celiac disease and gluten sensitivity in addition to its possible cancerogenic effects. The most healthy way, of course, is to never use these type of chemicals in agriculture.

Lastly, if you are not gluten sensitive or have the celiac disease, I do not recommend the GLUTEN-FREE diet for the sake of losing weight.

She got her master’s degree in Clinical Nutrition at New York University. She became a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist in 2003 in the United States.  She went back to Istanbul in 2004 for good and opened a health center called “SAYASA” – The Art of Healthy Living. She has been teaching a class called “Counseling Applications” at Yeditepe University since 2011 . She is specialized in pediatric nutrition and obesity.