As various diets come and go in modern society, there a few strategies that tend to remain popular. You may have heard of vegan or vegetarian diets, for example. Friends and family might refrain from eating meat altogether for health or principle reasons. There’s an alternative to these diets, however, in the form of a plant-based approach. You don’t have to give up meat entirely, but simply reduce its volume on your plate. I am mostly paleo myself but that does not mean I don’t enjoy meatless meals. In fact I know there are numerous benefits to plant foods so I want as much of them as possible. Consider some of the benefits associated with adding more plant-based foods to the diet as you focus on your health and well-being.
Fending Off High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure affects millions of people, and many of them don’t realize that they have this ailment. Extra pressure on the blood vessels makes you vulnerable to a host of issues, including stroke and heart attacks. Saturated fats often get the blame for this but new science shows this is simply not true. I am far more inclined to believe newer research that inflammation caused by carb centric diets is to blame. So what do you do? Eat more plant-based foods instead the typical bread and pasta, then you can fend off high blood pressure. Extra fruits and vegetables in your diet could mean that you’re indirectly lowering your intake of the bad fats and the carbs. Don’t rely on prescribed medicine for this ailment, better control can be had by eating lean meats and increasing your plant intake.
Keeping You Lean
Fad diets have been around for decades because food temptations and reduced activity levels contribute to obesity across the nation. Choosing a plant-based diet means that you’re automatically cutting calories on any given day. You can eat a whole bunch of pasta but how much cantaloupe or cauliflower can you eat? Not as much! Cutting just 500 calories each day from your meals means that you can lose around one pound every week. The simplest way to achieve this calorie cut is reducing the meat size and the carb load on your plate while piling on more vegetables. As a result, you’ll actually be consuming more food by volume with fewer calories. When you’re slim, your entire body benefits from the reduced weight. Your bones and muscles don’t have to overcompensate for the added fat tissues. Over time, excess weight causes chronic pains and possible disease.
Diabetes is another chronic disease that can often be avoided with a healthy diet. If your family has a history of diabetes, a plant-based diet is a smart strategy to implement. As you cut carbohydrates down to the bare minimum on your plate, fewer sugars can affect your blood-sugar levels. Ideally, add more vegetables to your diet compared to fruits when you’re concerned about diabetic issues. Although fruits are healthy for you, their natural sugars can negatively affect a diabetic condition in high volume. Eat some fruits, and concentrate your diet efforts on more vegetables and lean protein.
Regulating Your Digestive Health
A positive side effect to a plant-based diet is enhanced digestive health. If you have a sensitive stomach or colon, or you have no gall bladder, you might suffer from diarrhea or constipation on a high-fat diet. As you switch to more plant foods, you’ll notice benefits to your daily restroom trips. You should have a more regular digestive system when plant-based foods are running through your stomach and intestines. Plants have fiber, which is a natural substance that cleans out your digestive system. As humans evolved, plants were a main source of food so it makes sense that your digestive system would positively respond to this type of nourishment.
Helping the Environment
This argument is a tough one. When you eat fewer animal products, there’s less need for them to be on the market. As more people turn to a plant-based diet, fewer cows, pigs and chickens will be needed at local farms. The resulting benefit to your new diet is a healthier environment. Of course this does not take into account the healthier way of raising and eating meat…small local farms, grassfed beef, free range chicken, etc. We need to support these farmers with our consumer dollars and spend less money on animal products from factory farms. Although one person’s diet change offers a minimal effect on the world, millions of collective people trying a plant-based diet and switching to more sustainable and ethical meat, can really make a difference.
Some grocery products are difficult to categorize as plant-based because of complex ingredients listed on the label. Alternative food manufacturers, such as Hampton Creek, try to use only plant-based items in their products. I love their mayo and always buy it rather than egg based ones. Take your time during each grocery trip, and read over these various labels. Try to purchase items that are as natural as possible. Incorporating more of a plant-based diet can be simple when you’re aware of the ingredients in each recipe.
Friday, April 15th, 2016