Have you ever wondered what the health benefits of a plant based diet are? Are there health benefits, and if so how many benefits are we talking about. Well, quite a lot, probably more than what can be measured I imagine. Starting a plant based diet may sound a little boring and limited as too what you can eat, but that’s not the case at all.
Actually the variety in a plant based diet will take you by surprise, there are so many options when it comes to choice of food and creating different recipes that you won’t know where to start. Also, you will find that those recipes are delicious and once you start eating this food on a regular basis you will soon lose your desire for processed food.
We have so much choice when it comes to what food we consume these days, unfortunately a lot of what’s on offer is processed rubbish and not only does it not have any health benefits, it is the cause of a significant amount of illness in todays society.
The other side of the story is that plant based food contains the nutrients and goodness that the body needs in order to function properly and help keep disease at bay. Let’s take a look at what a plant based diet is, and some of its wonderful benefits.
Nutrient Dense Food
When I talk about a plant based diet I’m talking about food that is high in nutrients, minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants and basically all that the body needs to function properly. When I say plant based I’m talking about the following list and little else.
Fruit is an important part of a healthy diet, they are high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and much more. Fruit is also high in fiber which is essential in every diet, fiber helps keep the digestive system running like clockwork, as well as keeping you feeling fuller for longer. This is very beneficial for weight loss and your overall health. Because fruit is rich in so many phytochemicals it can help to lower the risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer and all such diseases that plague the population today.
Berries such as blueberries, blackberries and strawberries are real super foods, even though they are sweet they re low in sugar and contain beneficial nutrients. Their wonderful colors means that they are full of antioxidants which gives them cardio and anti-cancer protective effects by reducing inflammation, lowering blood pressure, preventing DNA damage and inhibiting angio-genesis. Berries are a wonderful food for the brain and have so many healthy benefits that they should be consumed on a daily basis.
Leafy Greens are packed with nutrients and contain only about 100 calories per pound, which makes them an excellent tool for weight loss as they can be consumed in unlimited quantities, matter of fact the more you eat the more you lose. Green leafy vegetables are the most nutrient dense of all and you need not worry about not getting enough protein because the majority of calories in greens comes from protein which is packed full of phytochemicals.
All types of vegetables contain protective micro nutrients and phytochemicals but cruciferous vegetables are especially protective as they contain glucosinolates. The glucosinolates are converted to isothiocyanates (ITCs), this happens when the cell walls are broken down by blending, chopping or chewing, which has a variety of anti cancer effects. ITCs can be very effective in helping to remove carcinogens, oxidative stress, inflammation and help to inhibit angiogenesis which is when tumors require a blood supply in order to grow.
There you have it, to help prevent disease and maximize your health you should aim to eat as much leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables as possible. The more you eat the more beneficial health benefits that you will be rewarded with, and as time goes on the more taste you will acquire for this kind of food.
Beans are legumes and because they are high in nutrients, high in fiber and resistance starch makes them a truly wonderful healthy food. Resistance starch means that the total number of calories absorbed from beans are reduced, this occurs due to carbohydrates that are not broken down by digestive enzymes.
Eating beans regularly means that you are building up good bacteria in your gut, which has many advantages to maintain good health. Beans have a stabilizing effect on your blood sugar because they are digested slowly, this helps to prevent food cravings, aids with weight loss and also reduces the risk of diabetes.
The soluble fiber in beans means that they help to lower cholesterol. Eating beans at least twice a week or more has been known to lower colon cancer risk by 50%, eating legumes such as beans lowers the risk of a whole range of diseases, they are truly a real super food!
Nuts and Seeds are a rich source of micro nutrients and healthy fats. Studies have shown that nuts have cardiovascular benefits as well as helping to prevent diabetes and maintain a healthy weight. Seeds are higher in protein that nuts, flax, chia and hemp seeds are extremely rich sources of omega 3 fats. Flaxseeds are rich in fiber and lignans and they help protect against heart disease.
Pumpkin seeds are rich in iron, calcium, and are a good source of zinc, sesame seeds are a wonderful source of calcium and black sesame seeds are rich in antioxidants.
A seventh day Adventist study following vegans has shown that having fat in your body from nuts and seeds is particularly important for the absorption of anti-cancer phytochemicals. The study showed that including nuts and seeds in their diet dramatically extended lifespan.
Getting Enough Protein
It’s important that we are getting enough protein in our diet, one of the first question people ask when you are not eating meat is where do you get your protein from, well you can get all the protein the body needs from eating your greens. Leafy green veg and cruciferous veg contain all the protein the body needs.
We don’t actually need as much protein as we think, we are being led to believe that we need a high quantity of protein in order to survive, but we actually only need a small amount. We can obtain all the protein we need from a plant diet without the need for animal protein.
Need for Medication
Something that is common amongst people that have made the change to a plant based diet is their need for medication has significantly been reduced, or in some cases eliminated. In a lot of cases this is due to the body repairing itself after years of consuming processed food.
Consuming processed food on a regular basis over time leads to disease, this in turn leads to a need for medication and the side effects from the medication means you need more medication, and so it goes on. After you stop the processed rubbish and begin to consume real live nutritious food your body will do it’s best to make repairs and restore it’s natural health.
This of course should be supervised and determined by your doctor, you should never take action to reduce or eliminate medication without getting professional advice from your health consultant.
If you are interested in losing weight for health reasons, for appearance reasons or maybe both or any other reason you may want to shed those pounds, there is no better way than a plant based diet. Eating a plant based diet means you are getting lots of micro nutrients, and reducing macro nutrients.
When we eat lots of processed food we are filling up on macro nutrients (protein, carbohydrate, fat). When we eat micro nutrients we are getting lots of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants. This means the body is getting lots of nutrients which it can utilize to function properly.
When the body gets fed the proper nutrients it needs and processed unhealthy food is kept to a minimum or eliminated that there will be no problem with keeping your ideal weight, have a look at the 5 best foods for weight loss here. In addition to this you will be significantly reducing your chances of getting disease.
Supplements are big business these days, but have we any business taking them. Supplements may have a place in your diet, it all depends on whether you have a deficiency or not, but even if you are deficient in certain nutrients, taking supplements may not be the best way to deal with it.
Research has shown that taking individual supplements may have no benefit at all, and in some cases can actually be harmful to your health. When you take an individual supplement, like “folic acid” for example, which is a manufactured product, either extracted from food or synthetically manufactured using processes or materials that are not found in nature.
Folic acid is meant to make up for lack of folate. Folate is found in abundance in green vegetables, beans and whole plant food and this is the way it should be consumed, in the form of whole foods where you can get the benefits of all the nutrients and phytochemicals found in the plant.
Synthetic folic acid is different from folate, it is twice as absorbable by the body compared to natural folate, while the body can convert some folic acid to folate it has a limited capacity to do so. This means that there is an excess of folic acid that is not utilized and this may be harmful as it is not known what effects it has on the body.
The best way to get your vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and all the nutrients you need is by eating proper nutritious plant based food. Even on a plant based diet you may need to take some supplements, such as B12 for example which can not be got in a plant based diet.
When it comes to your health there are no shortcuts, there is no substitute for eating healthy nutritious food, where you get all the vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants and all the goodness needed to sustain your health.
No matter what the state of your health there is no reason why it would not be improved by switching to a plant based diet. Eating a plant based diet will without doubt give you a new lease of life.
Please leave your questions and comments below, I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject!