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- Dependent on your geographical location, certain nutrients might not be as abundant in your diet as others.
- Dietary fiber levels are very low in the western diet. When not in control, the western diet along with the sedentary lifestyle can cause obesity and diabetes.
- 1 out of every 4 Americans die from heart disease.
- The Mediterranean diet is a rich diet, however iron deficiency is normally common. This might cause a reduction in the rate of red blood cells production and anemia might ensue.
- A deficiency of calcium might occur in asian diets due to the lack of dairy products. 47% of Indians are Vitamin B12 deficient.
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Human Diets are directly or indirectly dependant upon plants and subsequently, plant-based products. Plants, on the other hand, have always been dependant upon the geography of the particular region where appropriate conditions allow them to grow. Some plants are abundant in one part of the planet but lacking in others. This same trend is directly reflected in the availability of essential nutrients needed for our bodies to function properly.
Meanwhile, most diets have enough nutrients to fulfill your body requirements of macronutrients, they do not necessarily provide you with all the micronutrients that you need.
This variable distribution of plants around the world had a significant impact on dietary plans most people follow in the different regions around the world. Geography and modernization have given rise to different types of diets. Some of those which we will cover in this article are the Western Diet, Mediterranean Diet, and the Eastern Diet.
However, due to globalization, most food items are now available in most of the geographical regions around the globe. Meanwhile most diets have enough nutrients to fulfill your body requirements of macronutrients, they do not necessarily provide you with all the micronutrients that you need. This is because a significant number of micronutrients are found to be deficient in different dietary patterns around the world.
What Are The Most Important Nutrients Missing in Your Diet?
Are you being quite disadvantaged because of where you live or where you were born? Most probably the answer to those questions is yes. So, what do you need to add to your diet to substitute for such deficiencies?
In the remaining of this article we will review the different dietary deficiency patterns that are most recurring in the different diets around the world. We will also let you know what nutrients you need to add to your meal next time you are in the kitchen.
The Western Diet
Fibers in your diet slow the release of sugars into your blood stream. This keeps your blood sugar levels in check.
Western diet, also known as the Standard American Diet (SAD), is quite deficient in a number of nutrients. Such nutrients are Dietary Fiber, calcium, vitamin D, and potassium. Absence of Dietary Fiber in the diet has a very significant negative impact on your health. Fiber tends to bulk up feces and also tends to reduce fat absorption. When you consume a diet rich in fiber, the sugars in that diet are released slowly. This keeps your blood sugar levels in check.
Fiber can also prevent the reabsorption of bile, thus reducing your blood cholesterol levels.
What Does This Really Mean to You?
What it really means is that when you get sufficient amounts of fiber in your diet, you will very likely protect yourself against obesity, diabetes, atherosclerosis, and heart diseases.
The western diet lacks key nutrients such as Dietary Fiber. Dietary Fiber usually functions to protect you against such morbid conditions mentioned above.
Dietary Fiber is very low in The Standard American Diet (SAD). This is usually due to the reduced intake of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
The western diet includes components such as red meat, processed food, salts, sugars, chicken and fried food. These items promote serious health risks such as obesity, diabetes, and heart diseases. Furthermore, this type of diet lacks key nutrients such as Dietary Fiber. Dietary Fiber usually functions to protect you against such morbid conditions mentioned above. Dietary Fiber is very low in The Standard American Diet (SAD). This is due to the reduced intake of whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
The graph below is taken from health.gov. What is shown here is that both male and female sex-groups in the US consume less whole grains on average (Green Squares) than what is recommend (Blue Bar). Furthermore, both sex-groups do consume far more refined grains (Orange Circles) than the recommend upper limit for refined grains intake.
The prevalence of obesity in the US in 2017-18 was 42.4% and that of diabetes was 10.5%. Furthermore, 1 out of every 4 Americans die from heart disease. All of this is, somehow, an outcome of the western diet pattern and the sedentary lifestyle. The following graph shows the rise in diabetes incidence during the times of urbanization which gave rise to western diet adoption.
Meanwhile the mediterranean diet is not normally associated with nutritional deficiencies, there has been an increase in the rate of consumption of modified and refined flour, bakery items and sugary foods.
This diet pattern is followed mostly in Southern Europe and is considered one of the healthiest diets in the world. This diet pattern includes the regular consumption of seafood, olive oil, vegetables, fruits, wine, whole grain cereals, and dairy products. Processed meat, salt, and sugars are consumed in lower rates when compared to other diets around the world.
Meanwhile this type of diet is not normally associated with deficiency of nutrients, there has been an increase in the rate of consumption of modified and refined flour, bakery items and sugary foods. Due to these alterations, nutritional deficiencies are common. Some of those deficient nutrients are those of iron, folate, calcium, and vitamin A. Iron deficiency is a significant one, particularly in women.
In our article: Carbs Can Be Bad To You Health, What About Your Mood? we explored how eating such diets full of refined flour and sugary foods affect your physical and also your mental health.
When iron is deficient in your system, the rate of production of red blood cells and/or haemoglobin is reduced and Anemia might ensue. You will usually feel weakness and your working capacity will be reduced
Iron is essential for your body as it is the central component of haemoglobin molecules. When iron is deficient in your system, the rate of production of red blood cells and/or haemoglobin is reduced and Anemia might ensue. You will usually feel weakness and your working capacity will be reduced. To avoid this nutritional deficiency, we would recommend that you add nutrients in your diet that are rich in iron. There are multiple plant based and animal food resources of iron that you can use to get that extra bit of iron into your diet.
Asia makes up a huge portion of the world and nearly 50% of the earth’s population is Asian. A vast variety of dietary patterns are followed throughout Asia. The most notable dietary patterns in Asia are the East Asian Diet and the South Asian Diet.
- East Asian Diet – primarily followed in China, Japan, and Korea. This dietary pattern includes rice, seafood, vegetables, fruits, and a very small amount of meat. Dairy products do not usually form a large portion of this cuisine. Such diets are very beneficial as they are rich in nutrients such as fiber and vitamins. This is due to all the richness of this diet and due to all the vegetables, fruits and grains that it contains. Also, such a diet limits the number of fats in your diet and keeps the heart healthy.
Sadly, it is not all good news for East Asians. Due to the lack of dairy products in this diet, a deficiency of calcium can arise. Osteoporosis is the major manifestation of calcium deficiency in elderly people. Growing children need calcium as well for their appropriate growth and development. To overcome this problem, dairy products or calcium supplements must be added to the diet.
Iron and Vitamin B12 deficiencies are the most significant ones as they might cause Anemia. Iron and Vitamin B12 are the most common nutritional deficiencies in India.
South Asian Diet – includes grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, etc. Meat is only consumed in some parts of South Asia. This diet pattern is followed in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh with staple grain being changed from region to region. Various nutritional deficiencies are common in people of South Asia. Such missing nutrients include iron, calcium, vitamin A deficiency and vitamin B12. Iron and Vitamin B12 deficiencies are the most significant ones as they might cause Anemia. Anemia is the most common nutritional deficiency in India.
According to a 2019 Research, 47% of Indians are Vitamin B12 deficient and only 26% have sufficient levels of B12 vitamin.
Vitamin B12 deficiency occurs because of the lack of animal-origin food. According to a 2019 Research, 47% of Indians are Vitamin B12 deficient and only 26% have sufficient levels of B12 vitamin. A plant-based diet cannot provide you with the right amounts of vitamin B12. This micronutrient is essential for cellular growth and for optimal functioning of the nervous system. When it is deficient, Anemia along with other symptoms typical of vitamin B12 deficiency might take place. Such typical symptoms are smooth tongue, numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness might take place.
What Do You Need to Take Away from This Article?
Similar to the geographical distribution of dietary plans, there are also other categories of dietary patterns. Some are designed to reduce weight, some are customized according to religious compulsions. Others are just meant to prevent or control diseases. Read our article, What Causes Most of The Diseases in The World? where we explored the main causes of diseases most common in the world.
All these diet patterns are healthy for the human body on some grounds but at the same time, they might put the body in danger of nutritional deficiencies.
All the risks of deficiencies can be avoided by adopting a diet that is rich in fiber, have a low glycemic index, contains an adequate amount of proteins in both plant and animal form, low in fats and oils and rich in fruits and vegetables.
Sometimes, nutritional supplements can also be used if you know your diet is deficient in some particular nutrients and you do not think you can substitute it them through your diet.
An example of when such supplements are recommended are for those individuals who run very busy lifestyles. They do not usually have time to prepare their meals properly. They typically find themselves needing to fulfill their dietary needs of key micronutrients through additional nutritional supplements.
Of course, there are also other instances where you need to source your daily intake of micronutrients from additional nutritional supplements. We will cover those in one of our next articles.