A new series is about to start. I will be talking about different seeds. Before I start the introduction, permit me to lend a voice on ketogenic diet and some of the risks. Some years ago, I joined a ketogenic group. Some of the things they do were strange to me, the rate at which eggs were consumed was alarming, you had to abstain from eating carbohydrates, you cannot eat all fruits because some have too much sugar, you had to buy sweeteners, psyllium husks and some other things which were quite costly. Apart from the fact that the diet could almost make one break a bank vault, I noticed that some of the responses from people were not appealing. Some of the women would come back to say they fainted and I think it must have been due to a reduction in their blood sugar. Then I quit!
So what really is this ketogenic diet? It is a low carb, high fat diet commonly used for weight loss. Restricting carbs and increasing fat intake can lead to ketosis, a metabolic state in which your body relies primarily on fat for energy instead of carbs. However, the diet also carries risks you should be aware of. Let us look at the risks :
Lead to the keto flu: Carb intake on the keto diet is typically limited to fewer than 50 grams per day which can come as a shock to your body. As your body depletes its carb stores and switches to using ketones and fat for fuel at the start of this eating pattern, you may experience flu-like symptoms. These include headaches, dizziness, fatigue, nausea and constipation — due in part to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances that happen as your body adjusts to ketosis.
May stress your kidneys: High-fat animal foods such as eggs, meat and cheese are staples of the keto diet because they do not contain carbs. If you eat a lot of these foods, you may have a higher risk of kidney stones. That is because a high intake of animal foods can cause your blood and urine to become more acidic, leading to increased excretion of calcium in your urine. Some studies also suggest that the keto diet reduces the amount of citrate that is released in your urine. Given that citrate can bind to calcium and prevent the formation of kidney stones, reduced levels of it may also raise your risk of developing them. Additionally, people with chronic kidney disease should avoid keto as weakened kidneys may be unable to remove the acid build-up in your blood that results from these animal foods. This can lead to a state of acidosis, which can worsen the progression of chronic kidney disease.
May cause digestive issues and changes in gut bacteria: Since the keto diet restricts carbs, it can be difficult to meet your daily fiber needs. Some of the richest sources of fiber such as high carb fruits, starchy vegetables, whole grains and beans are eliminated on the diet because they provide too many carbs. As a result, the keto diet can lead to digestive discomfort and constipation. A 10-year study in children with epilepsy on the ketogenic diet found that 65 per cent reported constipation as a common side effect. What’s more, fiber feeds the beneficial bacteria in your gut. Having a healthy gut may help boost immunity, improve mental health and decrease inflammation. A low carb diet that is lacking in fiber such as keto may negatively affect your gut bacteria.
May lead to nutrient deficiencies: Some studies suggest that keto provides insufficient vitamins and minerals including potassium and magnesium. Over time, this could lead to nutrient deficiencies.
May cause dangerously low blood sugar: Even though low carb diets have been shown to improve blood sugar control in people with diabetes, they may also increase your risk of low blood sugar events — especially if you have type 1 diabetes.
May damage bone health: The keto diet may reduce your bone mineral density and trigger bone breakdown over time.
May increase your risk of chronic diseases and early death: While research is mixed, some evidence suggests that low carb diets that focus on animal foods may lead to higher death rates from heart disease, cancer and more.
Before the keto diet became popular, people lost weight conveniently. You can eat your regular food and still shed some weight. If you must be on this diet, my advice is that it should be done on a short-term basis because the downsides are too enormous when done over time.
Let me talk about seeds now. Despite being small in size, seeds are known to be super-nutritious. They are a powerhouse of nutrients and can be consumed daily for a myriad list of health benefits. With an ample amount of fibre, fats, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants present in them, seeds are known to be extremely versatile and can be incorporated any way in any dish. Most seeds are rich in protein, healthy fats, fibre and minerals (such as magnesium, potassium, calcium, plant iron and zinc), vitamins B1, B2, B3 and vitamin E. Oily seeds also contain antioxidants that stop the fats from going rancid too quickly. When consumed as part of a healthy diet, seeds can help reduce blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure. Unfortunately, they are often neglected for their much more glamorous cousin – nuts.
According to Kate Patton, RD, a registered dietitian, “seeds are good sources of plant based, healthy fats, fiber and minerals and for such a tiny package, the impacts on your body are massive.” “Seeds… are little bundles of energy, protein and nutrients,” says Debbie Petitpain, MS, RDN, registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Registered dietitian Kristen Smith, MS, RDN, LD, concurs by saying that “Seeds are an easy way to include a heart-healthy, plant-based protein source in your diet.”
Below are reasons you should incorporate them in your diet:
- They are a good source of dietary fiber which slows the rate of digestion and keeps your digestive system on track.
- They provide you with good fats, which nourish the blood cells and help maintain brain function.
- Along with nuts, they reduce the levels of inflammation in the body, which staves off ageing and reduces the risk of heart disease.
- They contain plant sterols that help keep cholesterol levels in check and reduce the risk of cancer.
- They are rich in trace minerals such as selenium, magnesium, copper and zinc which are required by our bodies.
- Overtime and consumed regularly, seeds can help prevent weight gain
- They optimise digestion
- They improve immunity
- Lower anxiety
- Reduces inflammation
- Boosts cognitive ability
- Lower diabetes risk
- Stimulates growth and development
- Prevents chronic diseases.
Over the months, discussions have touched seeds such as sesame, soy and so on. This new series will look into non-indigenous seeds such as flax seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds and more. I will talk about our own local seeds too. So, let us go on the journey to reap the benefits of these little superfoods and tiny powerhouses of nutrients.