Plant-based food choices help preserve health and mindfulness
Plant-based food choices have not always been easy for me. I grew up in a meat-consuming household, and sugary snacks were readily available. Even vegetable dishes contained chicken or beef stock, and often some sort of dairy. At one point I did not think it was possible for me to give up meat and dairy products completely. And yet, the longer I live on this planet, the less I want to participate in any activity that could be construed as uncaring.
You ask, why would I want to give up eating meat?
Our early ancestors cut their teeth on a predominantly meat-based diet. Am I seriously looking to abandon the eating habits of Paleolithic ancestors and “go green” for dinner? Research, particularly in the last 10 or 20 years, shows that enjoying all of the plant-based food varieties from the vegetable kingdom, and limiting or eliminating meat, may be the healthiest way for us to eat in our daily lives.
• What’s true about the Paleo diet? – Upon closer look, our Paleolithic ancestors enjoyed plant-based food, like salad, just as much as a nice steak. Research released by the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies in 2015 shows evidence that humans were eating plant foods as far back as 400,000 years. Anthropological data shows early humans were also eating seeds, starchy root vegetables and consuming other types of starches and polyunsaturated fats.
• The China Study, the largest study on nutrition ever conducted, shows that you can “turn on” and “turn off” cancer by adding or removing animal protein from a person’s diet. When people consistently consume animal-based protein, their incidence rates for developing cancer are much higher than average. When animal protein is removed and replaced with plant-based protein, cancer rates plummet. In many cases, cancer victims actually saw remission after ditching meat, and switching to a totally plant-based diet.
• In 2015 the results of a Cleveland Clinic study on obese children were released. Obese children, also suffering from high cholesterol, were switched to a strict vegan, plant-based food diet. By moving from processed food, sugar, fast food and meat to a plant-based diet, those children lost weight and significantly reduced their heart disease risks in just 30 days.
Those are just a few of the many studies that show people are naturally conditioned to eating plants. Both mental and physical rewards are associated with eating fewer processed foods, less meat, less salt and sugar, as well as dairy products, and replacing those foods with nutritious, delicious choices from the animal kingdom. Listed below find 7 major benefits (and a couple of bonus benefits you might not have thought about) of switching to a regular eating schedule focusing on plant-based foods.
1 – Weight Loss
Are you overweight? Could you lose a few pounds? Are you obese? Odds are, you answered yes to at least 1 of those 3 questions. That is because humankind has never been fatter than we are right now. This is because of a number of factors. We are more sedentary than we have ever been. Physical movement is linked to reaching and maintaining a healthy body weight. There is another factor that doctors and health professionals believe is more to blame than lack of exercise for the weight problems of modern man … what you are eating.
We now understand that as much as 65% to 75% of your level of physical fitness and health is derived from nutrition. Studies show that 70% to 80% of the food found in your grocery store contains refined sugar. MSG, salt, preservatives, steroids and man-made chemicals are also present in most processed foods to some degree. Because of this, simply by changing your eating patterns, you will begin to lose weight if you are overweight. This means trading in processed foods (foods that come in a box, wrapper or can) for fresh and healthy vegetables, fruits and other healthier, nutritious, plant-based options.
2 – Diabetes Prevention
Type II diabetes is 100% preventable. This is not argued by any health professional. It is a debilitating, life-sapping disease that is dictated by lifestyle choices only. When you eat a lot of processed food and consume high levels of sugar, research shows your risk of developing diabetes skyrockets. There is also significant research which shows eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, berries and “good fats” leads to a much lower incidence rate of diabetes.
Refined sugar is rightfully eliminated from a plant-based diet. Refined sugar finds its way into many foods because it is a cheap way to add addictive flavor. Childhood onset diabetes simply didn’t exist before refined sugar began to make its way into the majority of processed foods.
3 – A Healthier Heart
You probably don’t want to suffer a heart attack. Experiencing a stroke is likely not high on your list of priorities either. Keep your heart healthy, and you positively lower your odds of experiencing either one of those heart conditions. How do you get your heart healthy? Stop eating processed and fast foods, and start eating fresh fruits, vegetables and other foods from the plant kingdom. Like many other studies, research from the Harvard School of Public Health shows that “a diet loaded with fruits and vegetables can lower blood pressure.”
Why is this important? It is significant because often times, the number one high blood pressure (HBP) symptom is death! That’s right, there are no warning signs, so if someone does not get checked frequently by a doctor for heart health, the first outward signs that there is any problem with your heart may be that you die from HBP. Unfortunately, 1 in 3 adults in the United States has been diagnosed with high blood pressure, which can be treated effectively with a diet change to plant-based foods.
4 – Healthier, Stronger, Younger Looking Skin and Hair
When you experience negative health symptoms, that is one way that your body tells you there is a significant problem somewhere. If you are underweight you may not be getting enough calories. If you are overweight, it could be a sign that you are either eating the wrong kinds of food, or you are simply consuming too many calories on a daily basis. This is what is happening when your hair and skin develop problems … it is simply a way that your body is telling you, “Hey, we have a problem here.”
Today’s Standard American Diet (SAD, the same high-processed, low-nutrition diet enjoyed by first world, modern nations everywhere) leads to overall poor health. This can display accompanying signs of that poor health, like weak, brittle hair, hair loss, acne, eczema, rosacea, prematurely aged skin, wrinkles, liver spots and other hair and skin conditions. Simply by trading in your meat, dairy, refined flour, sugar and unhealthy oils for plant-based foods, you can return your skin and hair to a healthy, youthful appearance.
5 – Less Chance of Developing Cancer
We highlighted this earlier in the introduction. It is such an important point that it bears repeating. Limiting the number of toxins and harmful bacteria that enter your body leads to a lowered risk of developing a number of cancers. Processed foods are full of additives, chemical compounds, sugar, MSG and other ingredients which have been linked to higher levels of cancer. Fruits and vegetables are chock-full of powerful antioxidants and other immune-boosting nutrients, enzymes and “natural medicines” that keep cancer at bay.
6 – Digestive Health
“All disease begins in the gut.” That is a quote that comes from Hippocrates, the Father of Western Medicine. He made that statement in the 4th century BC. He knew then what doctors know now, that as much as 3 out of every 4 human diseases begins with a problem in your digestive process. Fruits and vegetables are high fiber foods.
When you eat plenty of fiber, which is virtually nonexistent in processed foods and most meat and dairy products, that fiber cleanses your digestive tract, gut and intestines. Eat more high-fiber fruits and vegetables and you promote a healthier gut, which is where a lot of infections, illness and disease begin.
7 – All-Day, Stress-Free, Natural Energy and Vitality
When you reach for a cup of coffee, a sweet treat or an energy drink, you may enjoy a burst of energy. However, you are also familiar with the crash that usually follows. This is because using sugar to give you an energy boost is not the healthiest way to experience a “pick me up”. Eating fresh, delicious and nutritious fruits, vegetables and whole grains provides you with natural energy and vitality that lasts the entire day. This limits stress and anxiety, and improves your natural feeling of energetic wellness.