10 Benefits of a Whole Food, Plant-Based Diet
10 Benefits of a Whole Food, Plant-Based Diet
What is a Plant-based/Vegan Diet?
Plant-based diet: Focusing on eating whole foods, such as vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, and plant-based oils (unsaturated fats).
Vegan diet: Excludes all meat, dairy and eggs (no animal foods)1. Vegans also exclude honey, gelatin and other animal products. Some vegans even avoid wearing clothing, makeup and other items made with animal products. A vegan diet is also comprised of fruit, veggies, nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes.
With the rise of chronic disease, such as heart diseases, type 2 diabetes, obesity and cancer, more and more people are looking to dietary changes.
We live in a pretty toxic world, where many people are chronically inflamed. We are breathing in chemicals from the air. Different bodies of water are polluted, which also makes fish contaminated. We have the most chemicals in foods than ever before. We also put chemicals on our body and clean our house with chemicals. Animals are injected with GMO growth hormones, antibiotics, and other chemicals. More and more people are developing diary and gluten allergies or intolerances. Stress also contributes to inflammation.
10 Benefits of a Plant-based Diet/Vegan
- A plant-based diet has been found to decrease inflammation2.
- It is also more beneficial for weight reduction than a non-vegetarian diet3
- A plant-based diet helps reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by 40% and cerebral vascular events by 29%4.
- It also reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes and developing a metabolic syndrome by 50%4.
- It has also been found to reverse atherosclerosis and decrease blood lipids and blood pressure4.
- There is also a strong negative association between vegetarian diets and the prevalence of chronic kidney disease5.
- The profile of a vegan gut has a greater amount of protective species and reduced amount of pathobionts than that of an omnivore6. This is hypothesized to be a result of the reduction in levels of inflammation6.
- Fiber rich food such as vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and legumes can act like prebiotics. When fiber is fermented in the colon it creates short chain fatty acids that help to nourish the intestinal mucosal lining, regulate the immune system, and decrease inflammation7.
- Many vegetables, herbs and fruit (when eaten alone) also have many healing and cleansing benefits.
- A Vegan diet is also good for the environment and the animals!
There is no real downfall to a plant-based diet, accept the possibility of being low in certain vitamins, such as iron, B12 and vitamin D. However, these can easily be supplemented. It is noted that it is important for children who go vegetarian to make sure to get enough iron, calcium , vitamin B12 and vitamin D8 (which can also be supplemented!).
Make it affordable: Buy legumes, whole grains and nuts and seeds from the bulk bins. Buy frozen veggies and fruits and from local farmers. Follow the clean fifteen9 and dirty dozen10 list from the EWG.org website when buying fruits and veggies.
Make it easy: Eat a plant-based protein smoothie for breakfast, salad meal for lunch, and a Buddha bowl for dinner! Snack on fruit and nuts!
Iron is absorbed better with vitamin C. Eat iron rich foods with foods high in vitamin C.
Foods high in iron: Avocado, spinach, mushrooms, baked potato, whole grains (pasta, breads, quinoa, oatmeal), legumes, soybeans, tofu and lentils11.
Foods high in vitamin C: Citrus fruits, chard, broccoli, red or green bell pepper, kiwi, strawberries, tomatoes, cantaloupe and papaya11.
Food sources for calcium: Fortified plant-based milks, green leafy vegetables, tofu, sesame seeds, tahini, legumes, dried fruit (raisins, prunes, figs and dried apricots)12.
You can get B12 from nutritional yeast or fortified foods. Iodine can be found in Sea vegetables or Celtic Sea SaltR Iodine.
Sources of omega 3:
- Algea DHA
- Flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts 13
Quinoa, buckwheat, hempseed, blue-green algae, and soybeans are all complete proteins14.
Food combining for a complete protein:
- Nuts or seeds with whole grains14
- Whole grains with beans14
- Beans with nuts or seeds14
So, there you have it! It is actually very easy and affordable to eat vegan, as well as very nutritious and good for your gut and your health!
1. McManus, KD. What is a plant-based diet and why should you try it? Harvard Health Publishing. Published September 26, 2018. Accessed June 6, 2021. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/what-is-a-plant-based-diet-and-why-should-you-try-it-2018092614760
2. New Review Highlights Benefits of Plant-Based Diet for Rheumatoid Arthritis. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Published September 12, 2019. Accessed June 6, 2021. https://www.pcrm.org/news/news-releases/new-review-highlights-benefits-plant-based-diet-rheumatoid-arthritis
3. Huang RY, Huang CC, Hu FB, Chavarro JE. Vegetarian Diets and Weight Reduction: a Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. J Gen Intern Med. 2016;31(1):109-116. doi:10.1007/s11606-015-3390-7
4. Kahleova H, Levin S, Barnard N. Cardio-Metabolic Benefits of Plant-Based Diets. Nutrients. 2017;9(8):848. Published 2017 Aug 9. doi:10.3390/nu9080848
5. Liu HW, Tsai WH, Liu JS, Kuo KL. Association of Vegetarian Diet with Chronic Kidney Disease. Nutrients. 2019;11(2):279. Published 2019 Jan 27. doi:10.3390/nu11020279
6. Glick-Bauer M, Yeh MC. The health advantage of a vegan diet: exploring the gut microbiota connection. Nutrients. 2014;6(11):4822-4838. Published 2014 Oct 31. doi:10.3390/nu6114822
7. Ravella S, Foerster A. How the food you eat affects your gut [web video]. United
States: Ted-Ed; 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sISguPDlhY&feature=youtu.be
8. Vegetarian and Vegan diets Q&A. NHS. Reviewed August 2, 2018. Accessed June 6, 2021. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/vegetarian-and-vegan-diets-q-and-a/
9. Clean Fifteen™ EWG’s 2021 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™. EWG Website. Accessed June 6, 2021. https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/clean-fifteen.php
10. Dirty Dozen™ EWG’s 2021 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™. Accessed June 6, 2021. https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty-dozen.php
11. MacCormick H. Ways to boost blood iron levels while eating a vegan or vegetarian diet. SCOPE. Standford Medicine Website. Published October 6th, 2017. Accessed May 20, 2021.
12. The Vegan Diet. NHS. Reviewed August 2nd 2018. Accessed May 20, 2021. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/the-vegan-diet/
13. Omega-3 Fatty Acids. NIH: National Institutes of Health. Updated march 26, 2021. Accessed June 6, 2021. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-HealthProfessional/
14. What is a complete protein? Piedmont Healthcare. Accessed June 6, 2021.https://www.piedmont.org/living-better/what-is-a-complete-protein