The vegan or plant-based diet has been around for some time now. The diet is well known for its health benefits such as keeping cholesterol and diabetes in check, as well as taking care of stomach and heart ailments. But is this form of a lifestyle cut out for everyone?
Rashi Chowdhary, a diabetes educator, has shared insights into matter through her Instagram posts. The expert points out that “keeping genetic differences in mind can help us appreciate more of a balanced approach rather than completely giving up the proteins we’ve eaten ‘comfortably’ for years”.
Dr. Chowdhary has elaborated on how genetic variations among different people could affect the development of Vitamin A (retinol) in their body and how it might dominate the choice of diet one should take.
The diabetes educator stated that when we eat, our body produces two types of vitamin A: “beta carotene, found in plants food like most orange and yellow foods like mango, oranges, yellow peppers, and sweet potato” and secondly, retinol which is only present in eggs and meat derived from animals.
Dr. Chowdhary further elaborated that the retinol form of vitamin A is important for the immune system, skin, eyes, reproductive health, and dental bacteria while adding that people just eating a plant-based diet should know that beta-carotene can’t do the miracle that retinol does.
Why is the beta-carotene enzyme important?
Our bodies produce a gene coding known as the BCMO1 to convert the beta-carotene produced from our food to vitamin A or retinol. Your body can function well on a plant-based diet if you have good BCOM1 enzymes.
Dr. Chowdhary states that “some people have slower versions of the BCMO1 gene while others are blessed with a stronger version. If by any chance this is the case with you, your body may not be able to convert the appropriate amounts of beta carotene to retinol to meet the requirements”.
Among people who consume animal meat regularly, the retinol is absorbed directly from the meat thus not necessitating the need for the BCOM1 gene leading to fewer cases of vitamin A deficiency present.
Dr. Chowdhary concludes by stating that the secret to transitioning to a 100 percent plant-based diet is to know the connection between “what you eat and how you feel and do it for a while yourself know what works for you”.