When I first heard about the benefits of eating mostly-plants, I was very skeptical. It sounded too good to be true and more-than-a-little woo-woo…
- losing weight by eating plenty of delicious, filling food that’s loaded with fiber and disease-fighting antioxidants, and (gasp) CARBS?
- no special expensive foods, or shakes, or pills?
- patients dropping their cholesterol 50 or more points in just a few weeks?
- diabetics getting off their metformin?
- autoimmune diseases stabilizing or improving?
- blocked coronary arteries stabilizing or even… wait for it…. clearing out?
Now that I’ve seen these things first hand, I can’t keep my mouth shut about the power of a plant-strong diet.
In fact, there are a few simple daily habits, in addition to what we eat, that can have a profound impact on our health, and how our body handles disease: the food we eat, how much exercise and movement we get, and our mental and emotional health.
The field of Lifestyle Medicine focuses intensely on these factors, in addition to traditional medical approaches when needed, to prevent and treat disease.
Maybe you are already on-board, or maybe you are just curious to know if eating this way might help YOU feel better, or lose weight, or help YOU get off of your medications.
So let’s talk about…
Why in the world would anyone totally overhaul their way of eating?
Here is just a sampling of what this way of eating can do for you. You can get even better results when you add moderate exercise.
1. Prevent, Treat and Reverse many chronic conditions – maybe reduce or get off of your medications
Our bodies have a phenomenal ability to self-heal from all kinds of insults: knitting broken bones together, remodeling heart tissue, killing rebellious cells before they progress to cancer, and improving the response to insulin (a major part of treating Type 2 diabetes), to name a few.
Many times, if we will stop feeding our bodies stuff that is inhibiting the healing process and start feeding ourselves fuel that PROMOTES the healing process, the body can get busy and fix some of its own problems.
OK, here we go, a long list of conditions that can improve with diet change…. This is not even all of them, y’all.
- Coronary artery disease
- Type 2 diabetes and its complications (nerve damage, eye disease)
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Improved immune function
- Erectile dysfunction
- Autoimmune diseases
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Irritable bowel disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Lower cancer risk, and some cancers can be slowed down
- Kidney dysfunction
2. Feel Better, battle depression and fatigue
Tired of feeling foggy? Tired of feeling tired? Most people get a serious energy boost when they blast their cells with the powerful chemicals that are found in plants. Increase these benefits even more by adding a walking or other exercise program.
The effects of diet and exercise on mood disorders like depression are incredible, when you consider that prescribing a plant-strong diet and moderate exercise have no negative side effects. (http://nutritionfacts.org/video/plant-based-diets-for-improved-mood-and-productivity/)
3. Weight Loss and weight maintenance
Those on a plant-based diet find that they lose weight by focusing on the QUALITY of food they are eating, not just the QUANTITY. In other words, feeling full is easy when you consume foods that are full of fiber and crucial nutrients that are found only in plants, and are naturally low in fat and cholesterol. And this is without obsessing about calorie counting or microscopic portioning.
Vegetarians and vegans eating whole foods (not processed vegetarian glorified junk food) have lower body weights and maintain it more easily, without feeling excessively hungry. Why? Because plants that are not excessively processed are loaded with fiber, which fills you up, makes you regular, and is naturally low in fat.
4. Look Better
Maybe I can appeal to your vanity.
There’s a common phrase in the veggie community called the ‘vegan glow’. Studies have actually shown that when people start eating more plants, their complexion changes and often takes on a slightly golden hue, which others find attractive.
Acne very frequently improves with a plant-based diet, low-fat diet. And get this, people who eat plenty of plants have less wrinkles. I couldn’t make that up, here’s an article about it HERE.
What exactly is a Whole-Foods-Plant-Based diet?
You have probably heard the terms “vegetarian” and “vegan”, and these terms refer to those who avoid meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and/or dairy products in some combination or another.
But these words don’t exactly describe a whole-foods-plant-based diet. It’s possible to be an unhealthy vegetarian or vegan, if consuming a diet full of processed foods that are full of fat, salt and sugar. I call this the doughnut-and-cola vegetarian approach… not the same thing.
A whole-food-plant-based diet can best be described as:
Eating fruits, vegetables, legumes (beans and peas), whole grains, nuts and seeds that are pretty close to how they are found in nature.
Meat, chicken, fish, dairy, eggs and processed grains, sugars, and oils are minimized or ditched altogether.
Coming from one who was raised as a die-hard, equal-opportunity carnivore, let me assure you that I did not make this change lightly. I didn’t even eat a salad until I was in college, and I hated it. Not a natural vegetable lover here.
But eventually the seemingly mythical power of plants was too much to resist. I’m happy to report, the reports were true, and this reporter is now a fan of eating plants. Big fan.
I know, you’re wondering, “What in the world do you people eat??!!” Plenty! This way of eating is filling, satisfying, and most importantly, makes you feel good while it improves your medical problems.
So, here’s what I ate yesterday:
Breakfast: Big bowl of oatmeal with frozen blueberries, a sliced banana, and soy milk
Lunch: Leftover collard greens, black-eyed peas, and a piece of no-oil dairy-free cornbread
Dinner: Vegetarian dairy-free lasagna in the slow cooker, big salad
Snacks: apple, orange, carrots and salsa
That’s not so bad, huh?
So the take-home message is this – if you are ready to REALLY improve your health and your life, by actually doing something that’s been shown to reverse disease and prevent future disease, you need to eat some plants! And it’s not as hard as you might think. Yes, it does take a few new skills (like learning to cook collard greens without bacon…. they’re delicious!), but the results are well worth it: reversing medical conditions, more energy, less depression, weight loss, and a brighter complexion!
Do you have any questions about plant-based nutrition and what it can do for you? Post in the comments or drop me an email!