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Eat plants

Many of the plant based principles of eating apply to the Vegetarian genotype, but with some noteworthy exceptions. 

First, let’s get it out of the way, this is a low fat diet, but not a zero fat diet! 

Due to a reduced ability to deal well with dietary fats, most of the recipes for our Vegetarian group are powered by plants, but we also want to make sure our Vegetarians get adequate nutrition, and especially that they get the omega-3 fats their brains needs to thrive. In this way, Vegetarians can think of fish, and the occasional piece of meat, as a supplement. Vegetarians should ask themselves a simple question when evaluating a protein source: does this give me an omega-3 boost? If the answer is no, that food comes off the menu. 

For the most part, Vegetarians want to stay on the straight and narrow with a diet rich in colorful plant foods and complex carbohydrates. Beans, whole grains, tubers, nuts and seeds  and leafy greens all figure prominently on the menu. Due to what could be a reduction in the breakdown of histamine, Vegetarians may want to keep an eye on the freshness of food. The longer food sits out, the more histamine accumulates. This means meal prep services, leftovers, as well as aged and fermented foods could be problematic. But as the Vegetarian genotype does not carry markers for lactose intolerance, adding some goat and sheep dairy may help round out the caloric balance on a diet that can be a bit strict at times. 

Brass tax here is that the Vegetarian group focuses on getting 90% of their calories from unprocessed plant foods.

What is the scientific basis for this diet? The benefits of a diet that incorporates more plant foods are well established from some of the most heralded minds in nutrition science, including Valter Longo, T. Colin Campbell, and Walter Willett

Further, with macronutrient ratios of 10% fat, 70% complex carbohydrates, and 20% proteins, mostly from plant sources, the Vegetarian diet is consistent with protocols advocated by Dean Ornish, MD, as a tool for preventing heart disease. The principles of eating outlined in the Vegetarian diet are also consistent with the United States Dietary Guidelines in almost all respects.

A review of the scientific literature teaches us that different people respond differently to dietary fat. Some people can eat a higher fat diet and not see massive upticks in heart disease risk and LDL. Some others will see increased risk with higher fat intake. As Vegetarians are more likely to see elevated LDL when relying too much on fat for calories, we keep their overall consumption lower.

Most closely related diet: Okinawan

Primary difference with Okinawan: This is the tale of histamine vs. dairy. Vegetarian dieters have a histamine score that indicates trouble clearing histamine, whereas Okinawans don’t have that issue, instead they are likely to be lactose intolerant.

Biggest challenge: Getting enough calories and enough omega-3 fats. Plant based diets can be great. In individuals with greater susceptibility to heart disease, they have a proven track record. However, it can be tricky to get adequate calories over the long haul with such strict diets. The challenge for Vegetarians, and for all our plant based categories, is determining just how plant based they need to be.

In other words, and especially for people over the age of 60, adding in  animal protein as a “condiment” can be beneficial. The key for Vegetarians is to work with a doctor to test and see whether they need a 95% plant based diet to achieve healthy blood pressure, cholesterol levels, etc. If Vegetarians can get by with an 85% plant based diet, great, but their genetics indicate they should be eating multiple days each week that are 100% vegetarian.

Red meat friendly? No.

Keto friendly: No. Vegetarians simply don’t have the fat metabolism genes for a keto diet of any stripe.

Carnivore diet friendly? Nope. 

Does this diet type handle fermented foods? Aged cheese and meat are definitely a scratch due to histamine metabolism. However, histamine levels do fluctuate based on lifestyle factors, so some Vegetarians may find they can tolerate some fermented foods on a case by case basis.

What about pancakes and refined grains: Regardless of diet type, we don’t love refined grains, especially grain products with added oils and sugars. Having said that, Vegetarian genotypes are more likely to deal better with carbohydrate than with fat. As such, a diet that is a bit more liberal with high quality carbohydrates may benefit the Vegetarian dieter. Pancakes, or better yet, a piece of locally baked whole grain bread from time to time can make this diet more nutritious. Of course, this doesn’t apply for Vegetarians with celiac or gluten sensitivity.

Go to breakfast: Buckwheat porridge with a sliced banana and a plant protein smoothie.

Is Vegetarian your Diet Type?

Gene Food uses a proprietary algorithm to divide people into one of twenty diet types based on genetics. We score for fat metabolism, histamine clearance, carbohydrate tolerance, and more. Where do you fit?

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