If you’ve been around any raw food forum at all, then you’ve heard the term “mono meal” come up which means essentially eating only one type of food say, bananas, at a meal and not mixing it with any other foods such as oranges, lettuce, rice, potatoes or what have you. The idea is that by eating only one type of food at a time, this will make the digestive load lighter and thus make digestion easier.
This concept has been taken to a different level by some who then do a mono DIET of only one type of food such as bananas or grapes or what have you over an extended period of time from one week to a month to several months.
Then there are still others who say that as long as you are getting in a certain ratio of macronutrients (macronutrients being carbohydrates, proteins and fats) and as long as they are whole foods or raw foods then this is the best way to eat and you don’t have to worry about getting all you need.
Is this true?
Well, thanks to some online tools that track what our recommended intakes should be of certain nutrients we can now test out these ideas and see how they perform.
Let’s compare some mono diets on a 2000 calorie a day diet and see if they are able to provide the complete range of vitamins and minerals that our bodies need to function optimally:
Let’s start with bananas. To reach 2000 calories approximately, we would need to eat 19 medium sized bananas. This would give us the following per day for our vitamins:
Notice that is deficient in B1, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, and Vitamin K.
Vitamin A and E are important anti-oxidants that help prevent cancer. They are fat soluble so mono dieting on only bananas for one day might not pose too much of a risk but going for a week or several weeks would definitely start causing some deficiency issues.
Vitamin B1 is not fat soluble so it needs to be replaced daily. A severe B1 deficiency can cause Beri Beri, panic attacks, weakness and irregular heart rate. Both Vitamin E and A are good for eyesight.
So already we’re in some trouble here but how does a banana mono diet fare with regards to minerals?
So notice how low the calcium is. Dangerously low. As in, tooth decay and osteoporosis low. And many in raw food circles have had teeth issues and an even lower number have gotten osteoporosis as well. The common belief is that if one is vegan one will not get osteoporosis since that is caused by overacidity from eating animal foods which cause the body to use its own calcium to buffer the acids and thus are lost in the urine. While this has some truth in it, if we are not consuming enough calcium to meet our daily needs, we can encounter similar problems.
Calcium deficiency can cause brittle nails, dry skin and hair, depression and irritability and premature greying.
Also notice the lower iron, phosphorus, selenium, sodium and zinc.
All these MICRO nutrients are very vital to health and can lead to multiple health issues if not supplied in enough quantities.
What about protein? Research has shown that most people over consume on protein and this can cause problems and that we don’t need nearly as much as previously thought, but can we still be deficient in individual amino acids if we are not getting a variety in our diets?
As you can see, a mono diet in only bananas can cause multiple shortages of amino acids and this would not be a safe thing to do on a long-term basis.
Let’s try this exercise with some other foods as Mono diets and see how they fare. Let’s try oranges this time. To get around 2000 calories for the day we’d need about 29 oranges:
Notice it is still low on Vitamin A and NO Vitamin K. What is Vitamin K used for in the body? Notice what this website says:
The following are some of the signs of a deficiency of vitamin K:
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So this is not a mono diet that you would want to go on long term if at all.
How does the orange mono diet measure up for minerals?
Deficient in iron, manganese, zinc and ZERO selenium. What is selenium good for?
What Is a Selenium Deficiency?
A selenium deficiency is not common in normal, healthy individuals. In some rare cases, a lack of adequate sources of this element will cause significant health risks. One main cause of a selenium deficiency is caused by eating food grown in soils without sufficient selenium. Other individuals can be at risk for a selenium deficiency as a result of some intestinal disorders.
Symptoms of a Selenium Deficiency
There are a few major signs that an individual may be suffering from a selenium deficiency. Looking out for these warning signs can help catch a range of conditions before they worsen.
1. General Fatigue
A lack of energy, while not an easily diagnosable symptom, can be caused by a selenium deficiency. Uncommon weariness, lethargy, or a general inability to perform basic physical tasks can be a warning sign of a lack of this and other nutrients in the body.
A selenium deficiency can also impact the thyroid and lead to hypothyroidism, which in turn causes the sufferer to exhibit symptoms including heart palpitations, emotional disturbance, moisture on the skin, sensitivity to light and many more secondary effects.
3. Mental Fatigue
This is another very general symptom that can be traced back to a selenium deficiency, as well as many other causes. Individuals will sometimes figure out that they are ill when this symptom presents itself, but it is often hard to pinpoint a diagnosis.
4. Reproductive Disorders
In some cases, a selenium deficiency can cause a woman to miscarry. One of the secondary symptoms of hypothyroidism mentioned above also includes changes in menstruation
The amino acid profile is lacking as well:
Okay, so let’s try another food. Let’s say we are going to mono-diet on 21 Canteloupes. This had the best profile so far, but still had a calcium problem as well as Vitamin E:
You can see from the above examples that we need to get a VARIETY in our diets and ideally this would be daily. While mono MEALing might not be problematic, when we restrict our diets to one food only for long periods of time it sets us up for problems.
Download your own Cronometer software or do it online and play with that tool yourself. Put in your daily intake and see how you are doing.
If you are coming up short regularly in the same nutrients Google deficiency symptoms of that nutrient and then see if you are experiencing any of them. If so, then Google which foods are high in that nutrient and start incorporating it into your diet.
Even though the above diets are within certain calo-nutrient ratios of macronutrients, we can see the Hygienic practice of mono diets is outdated and not healthy.