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The Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet

December 10, 2019

 

Many people today are switching towards plant-based diets. A plant based diet is one that involves eating foods that mostly come from plants. Some people think that a plant-based diet is synonymous to a vegan diet, one that involves avoiding all sorts of animal products.

Yet others believe that a plant based diet is one that comprises primarily of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and whole grains. Occasionally however, it is considered alright to consume meat and dairy products.

Another essential criterion of a plant-based diet is that you must consume healthy, whole foods as opposed to processed foods.

According to research, a plant-based diet holds many benefits over other types of diets. Here are some of the benefits of a plant-based diet:

 

Improving Nutrition

 

It is no surprise that plants are healthy, perhaps the healthiest thing you can eat. But it’s so difficult to keep a track of the recommended dosage of fruits and vegetables in our fast-paced lives.

Vegetables and fruits are rich in antioxidants, minerals, fiber, and vitamins, and if you can’t seem to decide what to eat, they are the healthiest choice you can make!

Fiber is good for almost everything – your heart, your waistline, your gut, and even your blood sugar. Most of the foods we consume don’t allow us to receive the recommended amount of fiber that the human body needs for proper functioning.

Research has shown that a person’s overall nutrition is much better when they consume a plant-based or vegan diet over than a meat-based one.

 

Improving Weight Management

 

According to research, those who follow a plant-based diet tend to have a lower Body Mass Index (BMI) than those who do not.  There is also scientific proof, according to which, people who follow a plant-based diet are far more likely to lose weight and also to maintain the weight that they have lost.

Research also suppers the idea that those who have a lower BMI are less likely to encounter diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease, than those who consume a meat-based diet.

The idea behind this is that a plant-based diet tends to be higher in fiber and complex carbohydrates which keep you full for an extended period of time and also reduce the need to consume more food because your body makes use of the existing stored energy even when in a resting state.

According to the findings of a 2018 study, a plant-based diet was quite effective for the treatment of obesity. In this study, the researchers had allocated 75 people who were obese or overweight, either a plant-based diet, or were asked to continue with their usual meat-based diet.

The results showed that after only a period of four months, the plant-based group showed massive weight loss of about 6.5 kilograms. This same group also seemed to lose a lot of fat mass and saw improvements in their levels of insulin sensitivity, as compared to the meat eaters.

Similarly, a 2019 study of more than 60000 people found that vegans had the lowest levels of BMI, followed by those whose diet included milk and dairy or ‘lacto-vegetarians’ and lastly pescatarians (those who eat only fish and no other meat).

The group that had the higher BMI was mostly non vegetarian.

 

Reducing Risk of Heart Disease and other conditions

 

According to a 2019 study from the Journal of the American Heart Association, middle-aged adults whose diets were rich in plant foods, and low in animal products had a significantly reduced risk of heart disease as compared to those who did not.

According to the American Heart Association, eating less meat can also reduce the risk of various diseases including obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and certain types of cancers, stroke, and ‘type 2’ diabetes.

Consuming a plant-based diet can even help get rid of inflammation. Inflammation tends to increase your risk of heart disease by encouraging the buildup of plaque in your arteries.  

Research has also consistently shown that regularly eating a large number of plenty of fruits, vegetables , whole nuts and legumes can lead to a reduced cancer risk.

Additionally, research has shown that the phytochemicals present in plants can also prevent and thwart cancer.

Some studies have shown a correlation between eating red and processed meat and the risk of cancer, particularly colorectal cancer. So not only will you benefit from a plant-based diet, you can also significantly benefit from replacing certain some less-healthy foods with plant-based foods.

 

Reducing Blood Pressure

 

Various studies, including some done by the Harvard School of Public Health have suggested that a diet that is loaded in fruits and vegetables can help lower blood pressure.

Blood pressure is the number one cause of heart stroke and roughly one in every three American adults are diagnosed with high blood pressure which puts them at a greater risk of a heart disease or stroke.

 

Preventing and Managing Diabetes

 

Plant-based diets can help people prevent and even treat their diabetes. This is because plant-based diets can reduce insulin resistance and improve insulin sensitivity.

A study of roughly 60,000 people on a vegan diet was conducted in 2009, out of which, only about 3% had type 2 diabetes compared to 8% of people eating a non-vegetarian diet.

Furthermore, those who consumed a vegetarian diet that also included dairy and eggs had a lower risk of type 2 diabetes as compared to the meat eaters.

A lot of research has tried to determine whether or not following a plant-based diet can reduce risk of diabetes.  

According to research, vegan and vegetarian diets can both allow people with diabetes to reduce their need for medication, to improve their overall metabolism, and to help them lose weight.  

Such are the benefits of plant-based diets that doctors nowadays are increasingly recommending a plant-based diet to those with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.

While thus far, research has supported that veganism holds the greatest number of benefits, any plant-based diet holds an advantage over a meat-based one.

Regardless of what your BMI is, a plant-based diet will reduce your risk of diabetes.

 

Improving Digestion

 

Not only is a plant-based diet beneficial for your gut and your heart, it can also do wonders for your digestive system!

For those of you who generally suffer from constipation, a plant-based diet might be just the way to go! This is because plants are rich in fiber content. Fiber is, of course, the key to good digestion. Fiber helps add bulk to your stool, and aids in smoother digestion.

One thing you should however keep in mind is that if you are new to starting a plant-based diet, you might just want to go slow with your fiber intake.

This is because, if you aren’t used to consuming too much fiber, eating a fiber-rich diet all of a sudden can be can actually have the opposite effect of blocking you up, so you may want to take the process slowly.

 

Improving Eyesight

 

Carrots are full of vitamin A which can improve your eyesight and particularly aid with night vision. Carrots aren’t the only plants that are good for the eyes. Other plants such as kale, spinach, grapes, squash, corn and kiwi are all great for the eyes.

These plants contain pigments such as zeaxanthin and lutein that are said to prevent muscular degeneration and help protect against cataracts.

 

Improving your Hair, Skin and Nails

 

Generally speaking, your physical appearance is only a manifestation of what you eat. Fruits and vegetables are loaded in vitamins and minerals that are amazing for your skin.

In contrast, dairy products, meat products and processed foods can sometimes cause inflammation in the body and often times, this inflammation becomes apparent on our skin.

This doesn’t mean that switching to a plant-based diet can magically make your skin clear up all of a sudden. It might take some time but your skin quality will ultimately improve.

 

Boosting your Energy Levels

 

Fruits and vegetables are loaded in all sorts of vitamins and minerals. These are of course great to boost and keep your energy levels high.

Furthermore, fruits and vegetables are also loaded in healthy fats, protein, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. All of these are amazing for your brain and overall mood.

Additionally, fruits and vegetables are both easier to digest and this can give your body extra energy to spend.

More and more athletes nowadays are now consuming plant-based diets because they are so much better for you in terms of performance as compared to a meat based diet.

Not only that but since plants are also easier to digest, which gives our body extra energy to spend.

 

Saving Animals

 

This is one of the more obvious advantages of a plant-based diet. Naturally, if you cut meat out of your life, you are saving animals.

It is sometimes difficult to make a connection between living animals and the meat products you are sold in grocery stores. Regardless, if you do stop and think about the impact your meat eating ahs on the ecosystem, you might be tempted to stop altogether.

If you actually sit and visualize the slaughtering of the animals and how the babies are separated from their mothers, you might just feel sick to the stomach and be further motivated to switch away from a meat-based diet and towards a plant-based one.

 

Saving the Environment

 

Choosing to opt for a plant-based diet is perhaps one of the best things you can do for the environment and for our planet.

Animal-based agriculture accounts for more greenhouse gases being produced in the world than the entire transportation sector put together.

Animal farming is also the root cause of about 90% of all deforestation in the Amazon forest. Furthermore, animal farming also tends to drain out most of our water supplies.

If you switch to a plant-based diet, each day, you will save approximately 1,100 gallons of water per day, 30 sq feet of forest, 10 lbs of carbon dioxide emissions, and a single animal.         

 

How to Start a Plant-Based Diet?

 

Now that you are aware of the many benefits of a plant-based diet, let’s talk about how exactly you can make the switch.

For starters, make sure that whichever plant-based diet you opt for, it is one that you do not have too much trouble sticking to in the long run.

These tips can help get you started on a plant-based diet.

 

Cut Down on Animal Products

 

Starting on a plant-based diet is relatively easy. All you have to do is take things slow and cut down on one animal product at a time. This may sound restrictive to begin with but it’s actually a pretty simple way of eating.

Start by replacing all dairy products such as milk and other dairy products with alternatives including soy, vegan cheeses, rice milk, coconut milk, vegan sour cream and rice yogurt.

Next, replace chicken, beef, turkey, pork, lamb, fish and veal with plant proteins. These include nuts, beans, seeds, and vegan alternatives to meat such as tofu, tempeh, and seitan.

It’s really not as difficult as it sounds. All you have to do, is make sure you include all four food groups – fruits, vegetables, plant proteins, and whole grains in each meal. Remember, a balanced diet is a healthy diet.

 

Eat Loads of Vegetables

 

No matter the time of day, make sure to eat a whole lot of vegetables! At breakfast, lunch and dinner time, make sure that at least half of your plate is full of vegetables.

In addition to the usual vegetables such as broccoli, kale, cauliflower, asparagus, carrots, tomatoes, lettuce, rocket leaves, zucchini, beetroot, etc, you can even enjoy certain vegetables as snacks between meals such as with humus, guacamole and salsa.

Remember, the goal isn’t to make yourself unhappy with your food options. If you are unhappy, you aren’t likely to stick to that plan for too long.

You need to eat healthy, wholesome foods and you can make them as delicious as you want them to be. Just use your creative imagination!

There are many benefits of a plant-based diet, so stop waiting and start living a healthier lifestyle today!

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