While watching Youtube videos, I recently heard about a diet trend that encourages people to consume mono meals (meals only made of one food source). There are currently 32,356 post on Instagram from people proudly sporting their mono meals consisting of half a watermelon or a plate full of fries. The health claims of mono meals are our pre-historic ancestors ate mono meals, meals containing too many ingredients cause too much enzymatic activity in our digestive system, leading to fatigue. There are also health claims about mono meals encouraging people to eat higher quality food, and being easier to digest than foods containing multiple ingredients. Although mono meals may seem appealing to some individuals, does research support mono meal health benefits?
Claim 1: Our pre-historic ancestors ate mono meals
Carla Golden of the Carla Golden Wellness blog supports mono meals because she believes our pre-historic ancestors during the Paleolithic Era regularly consumed mono meals. But, according to a study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Nutrition, “there was no Stone Age diet, and “overall, diets of the past varied greatly.” Also, Carla failed to explain why our ancestors’ diet would benefit our current health.
Claim 2: Multi-ingredient meals generate too much enzymatic activity during digestion, causing lethargy.
There are a variety of enzymes (such as amylases, proteases, and lipases) located in different organs of the digestive tract, and the purpose of digestive enzymes is to break down food into smaller compounds in order for nutrient absorption. Claim 2 does not seem valid since it basically states that multi ingredient meals cause food to be broken down too much during digestion, even though the entire purpose of digestion is to physically and chemically break down foods into compounds our bodies can absorb. Also, a mono meal also leads to a variety of enzymatic activity because one food item most likely contains a combination of carbohydrates, fats, protein, minerals, and vitamins.
Claim 3: Mono meals encourage the consumption of higher quality food
Consuming mono meals does not necessarily encourage people to consume higher quality because people can any food item, such as a bowl of chips or a loaf of bread, and the meal would still be considered a mono meal.
While mono meals may seem like a healthy diet trend to follow, I strongly advise against jumping on this diet fad because the most of the health claims have not been supported in research, and mono meals discourage people from having a high quality diet. High quality diets containing a variety of fruits, vegetables, dietary fiber, and whole grains, and several studies have shown a high quality diet is associated with health benefits, including reduced inflammation and reduced cancer risks. One study conducted in Sweden examined the association between diet quality and several inflammation cellular and soluble biomarkers in 667 people between the ages of 63- 68 in order to determine is systemic inflammation is related to diet quality. The results from the research showed higher quality diets are associated with lower risks of systemic inflammation. The confounding variables from the study are the lack of certain food groups (like dairy) from the dietary quality assessment test, and there was most likely some bias since subjects reported their dietary intake. As always, please do appropriate research on dietary trends and health claims before considering them facts.
- Golden, Carla. “7 Reasons to Love a Monomeal.” Carla Golden Wellness. N.p., 24 June 2013. Web. 9 Mar. 2016.
- Wilson, Jessie. “Mono Meals And Mono Diets.” Raw Food Explained. N.p., 16 Aug. 2013. Web. 9 Mar. 2016.
- Blake, Joan Salge. “The Basics of Digestion.” Nutrition & You. 3rd ed. San Francisco: Pearson Benjamin Cummings, 2008. 68-86. Print.
- Gowlett, J. A. J. What actually was the Stone Age Diet? Journal of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine. 2003; 13(3): 143-147.
- Jansen, M, Bueno-De-Mesquita, B, ; Feskens, E, Streppel, M, Kok, F, Kromhout, D. Quantity and variety of fruit and vegetable consumption and cancer risk. Nutrition and Cancer. 2004;48(2):142-148.
- Dias, J, Wirfält, E, Drake, I ,Gullberg, B, Hedblad, B, Persson, M, Engström, G, Nilsson, J, Schiopu, A, Fredrikson, G, Björkbacka, H. Atherosclerosis. A high quality diet is associated with reduced systemic inflammation in middle-aged individuals. 2015. 238 (1):38-44