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Designing an optimal plant-based diet

On her first visit to Australia, internationally acclaimed nutrition researcher, speaker and author Brenda Davis will share her wealth of professional expertise and personal experience at a public lecture in Canberra on 18 February.

A Registered Dietitian (RD) for more than 30 years and co-author of nine best-selling nutrition books, Brenda has had a lifelong passion for food and nutrition.

“My interest in food and nutrition began early in life. By the age of 10, I was preparing full family meals. Even as a teenager, I was passionate about nutrition, and knew it would be my life work,” she said.

“I was schooled in the mainstream North American university system and was intrigued by the role of nutrition in the prevention and treatment of disease. The more I studied, the more I gravitated to a plant-based diet myself.”

Over the years as she specialised in vegetarian and vegan nutrition, Brenda has been a leader in her field, and has helped to educate fellow dietitians and other health professionals, about the finer points of designing optimal plant-based diets.

“When it comes to designing a plant-based diet that works, it’s important to do it really well otherwise deficiencies can be an issue,” she said. “But that’s true whether you follow a vegan, vegetarian, lacto-ovo-vegetarian, pescovegetarian or omnivorous diet – they can all lead to nutritional deficiencies or excesses unless they are appropriately planned.

“One of common errors I see is people moving from a meat and potatoes diet to a pasta and bagel diet – that is a formula for failure – it is essentially shifting from one unhealthy diet to another,” she said.

Speaking to Canberra Weekly ahead of her Australian visit, Brenda said that her public lecture in Canberra will be about “the strength of the link between diet and disease and what we know about treating and preventing disease with lifestyle choices”.

“I plan to focus on 10 simple steps people can take to help them design the most beneficial, protective diet they can,’ she said. “It’s simple; a protective, nutritionally sound diet can help minimise the risk of disease.

“I’ll also look at a number of the more controversial issues that are topical at the moment:

• Are grains unhealthy?

• Have saturated fats been vindicated?

• Is soy safe?

• Do we need fish for omega-3 fatty acids?

• What about the paleo diet?

And of course, I’ll do my best to answer any questions people may have.”

According to Brenda, research suggests that around 70 per cent of people in the West will die of lifestyle-induced disease that is preventable through wise nutritional choices.

“It makes no sense; why would we make choices that result in 30 years of pain, suffering and loss for our loved ones?” she said.

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