Do you want to prevent Type 2 diabetes? Are you suffering from an auto immune condition, obesity or any other health problems? Do you want to reverse or improve your chronic cardiac or other health conditions? Be it any reason! A plant-based whole food diet is the best option you can opt for a healthy and disease-free life.
Nutrition from Plant-Based Food
Add plant-based whole foods like legumes, whole grains, and starchy vegetables to your daily diet. These will keep you satisfied and full, and thereby prevents from eating processed foods or animal based products that eventually make you sick. Dietary fiber is found only in plants like beans, vegetables, whole grains, fruits etc. Lack of fiber in your everyday meal, increases the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and various cancers. It may also affect by increasing the cholesterol level, blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
Plant-based whole food diet is healthy and nutritionally adequate. This diet is healthy and appropriate irrespective age of the individual. It is healthy for a pregnant women, lactating women, infant, childhood, adolescence, older adult and even for athletes. The individuals who follow plant-base diet are blessed with various health benefits. They have decreased risk of diseases like ischemic heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, some forms of cancer and obesity.
Due to low intake of saturated fat and high intake of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, soy products, nuts and seeds, which are rich in fiber and phytochemicals, it causes lower production of total as well as low density lipoprotein cholesterol levels and promotes better blood sugar control. This in turn helps to reduce the risk of chronic illness. However, for Vitamin B12, people may need to take fortified foods or supplements.
Plant-based Diet is the evidence?
Physicians should understand and recommend a plant-based diet to their patients. A study, which was followed up for 28 years, showed that there is no significant deficiency of any nutrient (like protein, iron, calcium, or essential fatty acids) in people following a plant-based diet. Only a Vitamin B12 supplement and adequate sunshine for Vitamin D is recommended by the physician. It concluded that the risk of nutrient deficiency with plant-based diet is theoretical, and should not cause any hindrance to accept the scientifically sound plant-based diet.
Plant-based Diet in Medical Conditions
The RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowances) for protein is 10 % of the total calories, which increases to double if you consume animal-based food. This excess protein in food increases carcinogenic activity that leads to diabetes, coronary artery disease etc. In Chronic kidney disease (CKD) usually the doctors recommend vegetarian diet as plant protein has positive effects on blood pressure, proteinuria and glomerular filtration rate and also reduces renal tissue damage.
In CKD, the diet should maintain nutritional status and also reduce uremic toxicity, proteinuria and the risk of secondary complications like cardiovascular disease, bone disease and hypertension.
National Kidney Foundation recommends vegetarian diet for CKD patients, as it is evident that plant protein has positive effects on blood pressure, proteinuria and glomerular filtration rate and reduces renal tissue damage as compared to animal proteins.
Plant-based whole food diet helps to prevent aging and age-related diseases as it is rich in carotenoids. Carotenoids are the organic pigments that provide bright colors to many fruits and vegetables. It helps to increase the length of telomeres (cap of the chromosomes) that in turn delays ageing. The fiber and antioxidants, found exclusively in plant-based food, prevents the oxidative stress and thus helps in preventing and reversing cellular aging.
Adopting a plant-based diet
One of the most common reasons for failure in adapting the plant-based whole food diet lifestyle is that people try to consume only leafy vegetables and this leads to calorie deficit. Without proper intake of calorie, you have decreased energy level, increased hunger and cravings. But this issue is not due to adopting plant-based diet, but it is solely due to not eating enough nutrients.
So you should understand the fact that leafy vegetables are not the basis of a plant-based diet, where as starch based foods and fruits are the energy sources in a plant-based diet. Tubers like potatoes, sweet potatoes; starchy vegetables like corn and peas; whole grains like brown rice, millet, quinoa and buckwheat; legumes like chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans and lima beans should form the centre of your plate during a meal.
It is evident that inclusion of fruit and vegetable in weight management strategy is very effective and healthy. It helps to reduce weight naturally without making the person ignore his/ her hunger signals.
Benefits of a Plant-based diet:
Following a plant-based diet, 80% of the Medicare expense can be cut down. It is evident that, plant-based diet helps to prevent as well as reverse some of the medical condition. It is also helpful in preventing aging and age related diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, some forms of cancer, heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, Parkinson’s disease, age-related macular degeneration, cataract, gallstones, kidney stones, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, and vaginal infection.
Plant-based diet also helps to reduce abdominal fat, acne, allergies, asthma, body odor, cellulite, dysmenorrhea, eczema, gut flora, fibromyalgia and child IQ and cognitive development etc. As compared to omnivores, individual who switch to plant-based diet have higher blood protein and has less incidence of nutrition deficiency. There are two vitamins namely, Vitamin D and Vitamin B12 that needs to be supplemented. Therefore switch to plant-based diet and increase your life span and lead a healthy life.
- Melina V, Craig W, Levin S Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Vegetarian Diets J Acad Nutr Diet. 2016 Dec; 116(12):1970-1980. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2016.09.025
- Craig McDougall, MD John McDougall, MD Plant-Based Diets Are Not Nutritionally Deficient 2013 Fall; 17(4): 93.doi: 10.7812/TPP/13-111
- Gluba-Brzózka A, Franczyk B, Rysz J. Vegetarian Diet in Chronic Kidney Disease-A Friend or Foe Nutrients. 2017 Apr 10;9(4). pii: E374. doi: 10.3390/nu9040374.
- Hannah Ensaff, Susan Coan,Pinki Sahota, Debbie Braybrook, Humaira Akter, and Helen McLeod Adolescents Food Choice and the Place of Plant-Based Foods 2015 Jun; 7(6): 4619–4637 Published online 2015 Jun 9. doi: 10.3390/nu7064619