If you want to lead a healthy life by eating the right foods and you hit on a pescatarian diet, you’re one of several people all over the world who are enjoying this diet. A largely fish diet, it also includes veggies, nuts and seeds.
What is Pescatarianism? Not a new fad diet, pescatarianism has been around for hundreds of years. In fact, fish is a definite ingredient of Mediterranean and Asian diets. People who follow this school of diet do not eat animal meat, chicken, pork or beef or other kinds of poultry.
However, they eat all kinds of seafood including shellfish. They also eat fruits, veggies, beans, nuts and seeds. The combined health benefits of all these food types make pescatarians very healthy.
Health benefits of Pescatarianism
There are several health benefits pescatarians enjoy, such as:
1. Reduces risk of cancer
High levels of inflammation in the body are among the chief reasons for cancer development. This can be countered by suppressing this inflammation by consuming a high omega-3 diet as in fish and all other types of seafood. Through their high-fish diet, pescatarians are safeguarded from developing cancer and tumours.
2. Fights inflammation
3. Better nervous system
Fish contains all B-complex vitamins which are good for the nervous system, bones and eyesight.
4. Improves blood circulation and cardiovascular health
The anti-inflammatory effects of a pescatarian diet help reduce the risk of damage to your blood vessels, relaxes the blood vessels that enhance blood flow and give you a much healthier cardiovascular system.
5. Normalizes reproductive hormones, increases fertility
A pescatarian diet, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, can normalize the reproductive hormones and increase blood flow to the sex organs. Selenium and zinc are instrumental in increasing sperm and testosterone production.
6. Helps the brain function better
A pescatarian diet helps the brain function optimally because it contains omega-3 fatty acids that enhance neurotransmitter functioning and improve complex brain processing and attention.
7. Lower chances of memory and brain impairments
With age, it’s normal for us to suffer memory loss and age-related brain impairments like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. But if you are on a significant diet of omega-3s through your fish diet, you can prevent the onset and development of these mental impairments. It is now proved that a high diet of fish is linked with mental age-related brain diseases like Alzheimer’s.
8. Grows healthy hair and skin
Omega-3 contained in fish help grow healthy skin and hair. They also help get rid of skin problems like acne, eczema and psoriasis and reduce skin inflammation. Omega-3 supplements help stimulate the growth of stronger and shinier hair follicles.
Advantages of Pescatarianism
Pescatarianism brings with it a slew of advantages. For one, it lowers your chances of dying from chronic medical problems like cardiovascular problems and cancer. According to a study published in the journal in 2012, title Archives of Internal Medicine reports that those who depend on fish and plant-based proteins for their food were less likely to die prematurely.
This is because seafood has lower levels of saturated fat, fat and cholesterol per serving than meat. Some fish are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids that are responsible for elevated levels of HDL that protects one against cardiac problems. It also lowers your risk for obesity, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, stroke, arthritis and some cancer types.
Disadvantages of Pescatarianism
There are several downsides to becoming a pescatarian, such as:
Overexposure to pollutants
Though fatty fish like mackerel and salmon and some white fish varieties like halibut and sea bass contain low pollutant levels, yet overexposure to them can build up in your body in the long term. If you’re on a pescatarian diet, such overexposure can make your risk for diabetes, cancer and thyroid disease increase significantly.
If pregnant women continue to eat excessive amounts of fish, they run the risk of giving birth to low-birth weight babies with slow or delayed development. To avoid such problems, it is best to reduce your intake of such fish and tailor their intake as follows:
- Teens and pregnant women should not exceed two servings of fish per week
- Men, women and children should not exceed four servings a week
Fish carry varying amounts of mercury, which they process into toxic methyl mercury. If you are on a pescatarian diet, you could be raising your exposure to this toxin, and eventually a high intake of this toxin can affect your nervous system and can cause serious delays in physical and mental growth in babies when exposed to mercury while in the womb.
Since the amounts of mercury vary from fish to fish, the recommended amounts of fish per day also vary. So, you can safely eat herring, sardines and tilapia, but eat yellowfin tuna, blue fin and Chilean sea bass sparingly, in fact not more than three servings per month.
Exclusive food choices
If you like to eat fish for proteins, don’t eat it to the exclusion of other proteins or other food categories. If you do, you will limit your food choices and soon get bored of eating fish. For more variety within the protein umbrella, include vegetarian protein sources such as chickpeas, soy, tofu, seeds and nuts. This will lower your exposure to mercury and other pollutants.
Expensive to eat regularly
Eating a lot of fish as compared to other forms of protein might be heavy on the purse. Choose non-fish protein alternatives and enjoy the variety in your diet.
For people who can’t seem to get enough of eating the fish they love, becoming a pescatarianis the right choice. A diet rich in fish comes with a lot of health benefits ranging from cardiovascular health, better skin, hair and memory, among other benefits. It might seem difficult at first to exclude all other kinds of meat and poultry from one’s diet while depending only on fish, but with large scale benefits assured, it’s well worth the change in lifestyle.