Plant Based Diets and Health
The popularity of plant based diets is growing in the US and many other countries. Recent studies presented to the American Society of Nutrition in 2018 found a variety of health benefits in individuals participating in vegetarian type lifestyles. Typical results pointed to decreased risk of coronary heart disease, decreased abdominal fat, decreased blood sugar, decreased cholesterol, lower BMI numbers and lower mortality rates.
Keep in mind, plant based diets do not have to mean strictly vegan. It can consist of a higher ratio of plant to animal and moving to modest portion sizes of lean meat and fish. And this is something to consider when creating meal plans for your clients. With that in mind, here are three reasons why plant based foods can improve health.
Plant based whole foods are nutrient dense. This means that per calorie, plant foods pack a healthy punch by being low in calories and high in micro-nutrients. Nutrient dense foods, over time, reduce cravings for low-nutrient foods and junk foods. In addition, a whole food plant based diet helps normalizes hormones that contribute to weight loss.
Decreased Inflammation responses
Inflammation is caused by oxidative stress. Highly processed foods and animal based foods increase oxidation in the body, resulting in inflammation. The micro-nutrients in plants protect against oxidative stress. Adding or better yet, substituting whole plant based foods for processed and animal based foods will decrease inflammation.
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Increased immune response
Plants contain antioxidants and phytochemicals that boost the body’s immune response. Phytochemicals also deactivate cancer causing substances and foreign microbes. Cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli and kale contain a variety of isothiocyanates (ITCs) whose actions include removing carcinogenic compounds. Mushrooms have been shown to enhance the body’s natural killer T cells (NKT), whose function is to attack abnormal cells.
The Take-Away? Live longer, be healthier with more plants in your diet
While not everyone will want to move to a vegan diet, it is not difficult to gradually increase to a higher ratio of plant to animal foods and make those animal portions modest and lean. Plants have an amazing ability to be beneficial, helping to achieve weight loss, decrease inflammation responses in the body and boost the immune system. So try it out and start moving to a healthier lifestyle.