Dr Zoe Williams discusses visceral fat on This Morning
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Participants who underwent a 16-week vegan trial showed remarkable improvements in their body weight, body composition and blood sugar control. Here are the details. Dr Hana Kahleova said: “We have demonstrated that a plant-based diet elicited changes in gut microbiome that were associated with weight loss, reduction in fat mass and visceral fat volume, and increase in insulin sensitivity.” There were 73 middle-aged men and women who were put on a low-fat vegan diet.
To compare, another 74 people made no changes to their original diet for four months.
At the beginning of the trial, all participants had their gut microbiota assessed, as well as their body composition and insulin sensitivity.
The researchers found that “body weight was reduced significantly in the vegan group”.
Participants lost, on average, 6.8kg – the equivalent to one-and-a-half stone.
In addition, those on a vegan diet lost around 3.9kg (6lbs) of fat mass.
“Insulin sensitivity also increased significantly in the vegan group,” it was noted.
Dr Kahleova continued: “A plant-based diet has been shown to be effective in weight management, and in diabetes prevention and treatment.”
Furthermore, there was a marked increase in the number of Faecalibacterium prausnitzii and Bacteoides fragilis gut bacteria in the vegan group.
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Dr Kahleova elaborated: “The main shift in the gut microbiome composition was due to an increased content of short-chain fatty acid producing bacteria that feed on fibre.
“Therefore, high dietary fibre content seems to be essential for the changes observed in our study.”
How to follow a vegan diet
Otherwise known as a plant-based diet, this involves eating fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts.
A vegan diet doesn’t come from animals, including dairy produces and eggs.
The NHS certified: “You can get most of the nutrients you need from eating a varied and balanced vegan diet.”
This includes eating five portions of fruit and vegetables every day, basing meals on wholegrain potatoes, bread, rice, or pasta, and using dairy alternatives.
Examples of dairy alternatives include soya drinks and yoghurts – just make sure you pick the low-fat and low-sugar options.
For protein, you can eat on beans and pulses, such as:
- Baked beans
- Red, green, yellow and brown lentils
- Garden peas
- Black-eyed beans
- Broad beans
- Kidney beans
- Butter beans
- Cannellini beans
- Flageolet beans
- Pinto beans
- Borlotti beans
To make sure you get enough calcium while following a vegan diet, make sure to eat:
- Green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage and okra
- Fortified unsweetened soya, rice and oat drinks
- Calcium-set tofu
- Sesame seeds and tahini
- Brown and white bread
- Dried apricots
As for vitamin D, spending as little as 15 minutes in the sun should be sufficient.
From late September to early March, adults in the UK are recommended to take a daily vitamin D supplement.
Some breakfast cereals, spreads and soya drinks are fortified with vitamin D, meaning the vitamin is added into it.
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