As society evolves, we are facing the need to change our behaviors and habits. One of the ideas put forward to improve our health is a plant-based diet. The purpose of the change is to increase our quality of life.
Over 40% of our population is suffering from chronic disease. Food regiments are not something our doctor prescribes. Research is showing that food has a lot to contribute to our health. It is a less costly option for our society compared to prescribe medication.
Our understanding of a plant-based diet may differ from one individual to another. A plant-based diet is having a large part of one’s nutrition coming from vegetables, fruits, herbs, nuts, whole grains, and legumes, or other plants.
A spectrum of plant-based nutrition options is available to you. Some are very strict (vegan diet). Others still add animal products like dairy (vegetarian). At the other end of the spectrum are those that still eat meat, poultry, and fish on an occasional basis.
Early humans consumed a large proportion of animal protein in their diet. It is from that belief that in the 2000s the Paleo diet (comprised of animal protein) became popular. The Paleolithic diet, Paleo diet, caveman diet, or stone-age diet is a modern fad diet by eating foods that have been addressable to humans during the Paleolithic era. But, the digestive abilities of modern humans are different from those of pre-Homo sapiens humans. That’s why people criticize the diet’s premise.
The nutrition of Homo sapiens came from nuts, fruits, leaves, roots, seeds, and water. In that case, the “original” Paleo Diet was, in fact, plant-based eating. It is also linked to the fact that some of the strongest animals on Earth are not carnivores. The strongest mammal is the gorilla (most are herbivores). It has the ability to lift around 4409 lbs, which is 10 times its body weight. It would be like a 200 lb individual lifting 2000 lb.
If other mammals can live a healthy and strong life on plant-based nutrition, we can too. Plant-based nutrition is a great option for those of us who want to be a better and healthier person.
Choosing plant-based nutrition doesn’t have to be a complex commitment. Not convinced yet?
Here are the 10 reasons to start implementing a plant-based diet today
1. Improve your health
Consumption of fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans will bring more fiber into your nutrition. Consume from 25 g (women) to 38 g (men) of fiber on a daily basis.
Unfortunately, we only consume an average of 15 g daily. That is not enough. We can have a negative impact on the bowels, causing constipation or hemorrhoids. Fiber intake prevents and reduces heart diseases, diabetes, and colon cancer. Fiber also reduces blood cholesterol levels.
The recommended daily protein intake is 46 g (women) and 56 g (men). One cup of shredded cheese is about 26 g of protein and a 1 cup of diced chicken is 38 g of protein. That means that if you eat cottage cheese for breakfast with a glass of milk, an egg sandwich for lunch, and a ribeye steak for dinner, you are looking at double the amount of protein recommended for daily intake.
Eating too much protein can cause issues with the bowels or digestion. Some individuals need more protein than others, but in general, our protein intake is excessive. Plant-based nutrition can help us meet our health goals without going above the daily intake recommendation.
It was once believed that you needed to add animal protein in your meals to increase muscle mass. Now, some studies and athletes have demonstrated that it is possible to increase muscles and be fit with plant-based nutrition. For example, one of the best runners of all time and an American ultramarathoner, Scott Jurek is a plant-based eater!
2. Improve immunity
Eating a low-fat, plant-based nutritional therapy may help give the immune machine a boost. The immune structure is based on white blood cells that produce antibodies to combat bacteria, viruses, and other invaders. Vegetarians have more powerful white blood cells compared to nonvegetarians, because of high consumption of vitamins and low consumption of fat.
Phytonutrients own the immune system and are beneficial for our personal healing. Known for being antioxidants; we can find Phytonutrients in all plant foods. Researches show the benefit of consuming vegetables as a way to prevent illness. However many people still refuse to change their nutrition to increase their quality of life.
3. Weight loss and weight management
You have a large proportion of your meal that comes from plant-based food. Fruits and vegetables are the number one thing in practicing plant-based nutrition.
Only 1 in 10 adults get enough fruits and vegetables. The insufficient consumption of fruits and vegetables contributes to the obesity epidemic and chronic diseases related to poor nutrition. Read more about cracking the obesity code here.
Nutrition is probably the number one reason why we have so much obesity. Individuals who are on plant-based nutrition tend to consume fewer calories than individuals who consume animal protein. Since most of their calories are coming from healthier options and fewer calories per weight.
Plant-based eaters tend to eat less processed food and avoid meat-focused restaurants. Individuals who had plant-based nutrition showed increased weight loss. Experts in health and wellness say that weight management is 75–80% nutrition and 20–25% exercise.
It is important to understand that plant-based food doesn’t always mean healthy food. Sugar is the other plant-based food to beware of.
4. Prevent or manage a chronic disease
Individuals in plant-based nutrition can prevent chronic disease. The diet encourages a healthy and quality of life.
A report published by the World Health Organization recommended that a daily intake of 400 g of fruits and vegetables would contribute to preventing chronic diseases. To put this in perspective, 1 tomato is approximately 75 g while a medium-sized potato is about 150 grams. For fruits, a medium apple is about 150 g and a small kiwi is around 75 g.
These chronic diseases include
Applying a vegetarian-style diet can help cure diabetes. Being a vegetarian can improve blood sugar control and insulin response. It can reduce the risk of some diabetes-associated complications.
Researchers explain that changing the diet to vegetarianism can be an alternative therapy and treatment for people with type 2 diabetes. Avoiding animal fats from the diet can increase insulin sensitivity.
Eating vegetables reduce levels of protein in the blood called glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c). The higher the HbA1c level in diabetic patients, the higher the risk of experiencing complications related to diabetes such as nerve damage, eye problems, and heart disease.
A vegetarian diet can reduce HbA1c levels by 0.7 points. Susan Levin, one of the researchers, even explained that changing diet by becoming a vegetarian even defeated the drug. Diabetes risk lowers by 62 percent with a plant-based diet.
Lifestyle and food can affect your heart health. Vegetarians have a relatively lower chance of increasing cholesterol and clogging of arteries. Thus the risk of having a heart attack is very small.
Children who eat lots of fruit every day are rarely affected by asthma attacks. But children who don’t eat fruit and vegetables are 53% more at risk of asthma. One trial showed that regular consumption of apples in a child makes asthma attacks less frequent than those who do not consume them.
This study found that fruits contain vitamins A, C, and E as well as a number of anti-oxidants that function to prevent cell damage. In people with asthma, anti-oxidants prevent inflammation and repair cells in the airways that are damaged by asthma attacks. Read more about the benefits of eating rainbow fruits and vegetables here.
Foods from diseased beef tend to have the risk of transmitting it to humans if it is cooked with less than perfect conditions. Especially if it is burned it would be difficult to be cooked thoroughly. Whereas vegetarians do not transmit diseases to humans through the vegetable or plant genes.
Obesity can occur due to genetic factors, but genes are not the sole reason for obesity. Wrong eating habits (namely too much of it) tend to be the culprit. An increase in calories in non-vegetarian food places people who consume it in the high- risk category for obesity.
Vegetarians are lucky enough! Vegetarians have a lower chance of becoming overweight. Those whose diet was the most vegetarian were 43% less likely to become obese.
high blood pressure,
You can lower high blood pressure (hypertension) through a vegetarian diet. The conclusion was found in a study conducted by researchers in Japan and the United States is examining 18 countries with 21 thousand participants. Those who avoid meat have normal blood pressure.
High blood pressure increases the risk of stroke, heart disease, kidney, and more. As many as one in three adults in the United States suffer from high blood pressure. The vegetarian diet itself lowers systolic blood pressure by 6.9.
In addition, those who switch from meat-eaters to vegetable eaters can get these health benefits. Even with a vegetarian diet, the healthy effects it receives are better than medical treatment and without side effects. A five-point reduction in systolic blood pressure can reduce the risk of heart attack by 9% and 14% for stroke.
High blood pressure is associated with high sodium (salt) and fat in food, consumption of alcoholic beverages, and smoking.
The vegan diet mainly contains fruits, vegetables, and seeds. Inflammation due to rheumatoid arthritis can be reduced by eating vegetables and fruit. Those with rheumatoid arthritis usually have high levels of C-reactive protein and cause pain as well as swelling. By adopting a vegan lifestyle, the level of C-reactive protein which causes inflammation in the blood decreases.
5. Less spending on supplements
Did you know that Americans spend more than $35 billion a year on supplements? What if you didn’t need to waste that money? Too many people believe that exercising, medication, and supplements are enough to maintain health. With plant-based nutrition, you are receiving the nutrients you need from natural sources like legumes, vegetables, and fruits.
Not only does this save you money, but it also saves you from trying to remember to buy and consume supplements. While thousands of research show the health benefit of consuming fruits and vegetables as a way to prevent illness, many still refuse to change their nutrition to increase our quality of life.
6. Balance hormon
Many animal products, especially chicken and beef, are often given additional hormones that can interfere with hormone levels in your body. That’s why reducing meat consumption or turning to vegetarian can help keep your hormone levels in balance.
The consumption of animal products may cause an increase in the hormone, IGF-1, which may increase both cancer risk and progression. Animal protein may boost our IGF-1 production compared to plant proteins. In addition, sources of fatty acids for vegetarians such as coconut oil, olive oil, avocados, and chia seeds can help increase levels of good cholesterol (HDL) which is an important factor in balanced hormones.
7. Improve mood
There are so many factors that can affect your mood. Starting from sleep, exercise patterns, to what you consume. Vegetarians tend to have better sleep quality. The process of depriving the human body is often slowed down by animal foods. Vegetarians will sleep more soundly because the digestion process is faster and smoother.
Coupled with healthy lifestyle habits that are commonly lived by vegetarians (avoiding junk food, exercising, not smoking), it is not surprising that being a vegetarian will make you sleep more soundly.
According to research from the Nutrition Journal, eating vegetables by vegetarians can improve mood. This is because chemicals that are produced naturally from animal sources, especially arachidonic acid, can cause disturbances in your mood. Therefore, reducing meat consumption is believed to reduce these side effects.
Plant-based eaters showed fewer signs of depression and mental illness than omnivores. There are much more research and some aspects to consider (like sugar intake). These researches are very promising. The best way to know is to try it and see how you feel.
8. Healthier skin
For a vegetarian who always consumes fruits vegetables, the possibility of having healthy and beautiful skin is higher. This is because the mineral content and antioxidants can improve blood circulation and maintain skin pigment.
Rosy cheeks and light skin was judged to be the healthiest looking in a series of experiments. However, a darker, more tanned look appealed less. The only way to get the most favored look was to consume a diet high in fruit and vegetables.
In addition, fruits and vegetables have high water content and are rich in antioxidants, both of which can help reduce the risk of acne. Antioxidants also protect the skin from the damaging effect of free radicals. Read more about the most powerful antioxidants to protect the body cells here.
9. Increase libido
Vegetable foods found in fruits such as citrus, mango, papaya, strawberries, watermelons, are believed to increase libido and sexual hormones in the body. A study in Czechoslovakia found that the scent of a vegetarian body is more attractive than those who often consume meat.
10. Extend your life
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In conclusion, plant-based eating is for everyone. The main idea is not to “diet” or remove something from your nutrition, but more about adding more vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, and legumes.
Now it’s time to put your learning into action. Pick a day when you will start your plant-based nutrition. Select your meals. Find recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipes. Make a grocery list. Go shopping. Get your grocery items and install the change! Plant-based eating is not a diet but a more a way of living. Make it simple and have fun with it!