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SHOULD YOU EAT A PLANT-BASED DIET?

MAGGIE O'MEARA

One of the latest trendy diets right now is eating “plant-based”. On this type of diet, one only eats whole foods that are “fresh” or minimally processed, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds1. This way of eating generally minimizes meat, dairy, eggs, and refined food such as flour, sugar, and oil1. Although fad diets come and go throughout the years, the key concepts that are highlighted in a plant-based diet are something to take note off for it’s many health benefits.

 

 

The theory behind plant-based eating is to consume more plant foods. Many people in developed countries, including the United States2, Britain3, and Australia4, still do not reach the recommended levels of fruits and vegetables. This is outstanding due to the fact that developed countries have more access to fresh foods. Plant-based food has many benefits to our health and wellness! But don’t think that this means you have to become a full-out vegetarian or vegan. Being more plant-based can mean just including more meatless meals into your routine - or adding more colorful fruits and vegetables to your meals! Including more plant-based foods into your regular diet over time will have countless benefits to your health!

 

 

3 Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet

 

1) Lowers Chance of Diseases

Studies show that there is evidence of decreased risks for heart disease and certain cancers with people who ate more plant foods.5 This is due to plant-based diets making people have lower blood sugar, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure. Try starting “Meatless Mondays” in which you eat plant-based once a week! Replace your usual eggs at breakfast with hearty whole-grain oatmeal, add beans and hummus to your typical lunch salad or sandwich, and try a vegetable stir-fry with brown rice for dinner!

 

2) Weight Loss

People who eat less meat and are more plant-based have a lower rate of obesity.6 Focusing on eating more nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts or seeds can aid in weight loss or weight management. One way to practice eating more plant-based is packing snacks that are plant-based for when hunger strikes. Ideas for snacks include cut up carrots and bell pepper with hummus, apple or brown rice cakes with almond butter, chia seed pudding and fruit, avocado toast on whole grain bread, trail mix with dried fruit and seeds, or even homemade vegan cookies!

 

3) Improved Gut Health

A study showed that the gut bacteria in people who consumed more animal products had a vastly more inflamed gut compared to the guts of people with a more plant-based diet. This is due to the gut thriving on plant’s antioxidants and fiber that one eats! Tomatoes, onions, berries, bananas, flaxseeds, beans, and lentils are all prebiotic-rich foods to include in your diet. Having your gut in check will improve your overall health!

 

 

EXPLORE OPTIMIST

 

References
  1. 1. Plant-Based Primer: The Beginner's Guide to Starting a Plant-Based Diet. Forks Over Knives. https://www.forksoverknives.com/plant-based-primer-beginners-guide-starting-plant-based-diet/#gs.xIkWb8Y. Published March 26, 2018.
  2. 2. Stables GJ, Subar AF, Patterson BH, Dodd K, Heimendinger J, Van Duyn MAS et al. (2002). Changes in vegetable and fruit consumption and awareness among US adults: results of the 1991 and 1997 5 A Day for Better Health Program surveys. J Am Diet Assoc 1026, 809–817.
  3. 3. Lang R, Thane CW, Bolton-Smith C, Jebb SA (2003). Consumption of whole-grain foods by British adults: findings from further analysis of two national dietary surveys. Public Health Nutr 65, 479–484.
  4. 4. Victorian Government Department of Human Services (2004). Victorian Population Health Survey 2003: Selected Findings. Victorian Government Department of Human Services: Melbourne.
  5. 5. World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute for Cancer Research (1997). Food, Nutrition and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective. American Institute for Cancer Research: Washington, DC.
  6. 6. Tuso P. Nutritional Update for Physicians: Plant-Based Diets. The Permanente Journal. 2013;17(2):61-66. doi:10.7812/tpp/12-085.
  7. 7. . David LA, Maurice CF, Carmody RN, et al. Diet rapidly and reproducibly alters the human gut microbiome. Nature. 2013;505(7484):559-563. doi:10.1038/nature12820.

 

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