FAQ: What is a Plant-Based Diet?

One of the most frequently asked questions I get has to do with plant-based diets. 

This word has come up in conversation so many times in the last couple weeks and is so applicable in our busy lives. So much of our lives are determined by habits. One of the most important habits we have is what we eat and drink. We all eat at least 3 times a day. Have you ever thought about why you eat what you eat? Would you say you are intentional about what you eat? Do you want to be? 

I have been on an intentional nutrition journey for the last couple years. My family has adopted a plant-based diet. I buy organic as much as I can as to avoid GMOs, pesticides, and added hormones. Yes, I eat meat, but I am more intentional about which meats I buy by choosing leaner meats instead of red meat. Most importantly, I avoid the middle aisles of the grocery store full of processed foods that our bodies were not created to digest.

Unfortunately, many physicians treat the symptoms without really understanding the cause. If you can get your diet right, you can solve many of your issues. Most people have no idea how good we are designed to feel. If you are curious about plant-based diets or have been prescribed one by your doctor, I hope this blog post gives you some things to think about.

7 Reasons to Choose a Plant-Based Diet

  1. Diabetes Prevention: Roughly 387 million people are living with diabetes, and according to the International Diabetes Federation, that number is expected to soar upwards of 590 million by 2035. Type 2 diabetes is entirely preventable, and plenty of research suggests a plant-based diet can help ward off the disease.

  2. Hypertension Control: Lots of research, including some from the Harvard School of Public Health, suggests a diet loaded with fruits and veggies can lower blood pressure. About 1 in 3 American adults suffers from high blood pressure, meaning they're at higher risk for heart disease and stroke – two leading causes of death in the United States.

  3. Heart Health: Harvard researchers tracked the health habits of about 110,000 people for 14 years, and found that the higher folks' intakes of fruits and vegetables, the lower their chances of developing cardiovascular disease. Specifically, people who averaged eight-plus servings of fruits and veggies a day were 30 percent less likely to have a heart attack or stroke, compared to those who had less than 1.5 daily servings.

  4. Weight Loss: There's plenty of research suggesting vegetarians tend to consume fewer calories, and thus weigh less and have lower body mass indexes than non-vegetarians. While following a plant-based diet doesn't necessarily mean going full-blown vegetarian, opting largely for fruits, veggies and whole grains in lieu of meat will likely leave you feeling fuller on fewer calories.

  5. Fiber Intake: Fiber keeps you "regular" by aiding in digestion and preventing constipation. Plus, it may also lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Following a plant-based diet means chowing down on loads of fruits and veggies, which are packed with fiber. Just one cup of raspberries or cooked green peas amounts to eight grams of fiber or more, according to the Mayo Clinic.

  6. Vision Value: As you may know, the vitamin A in carrots aids night vision. Your eyes might also thank you for a plant-based diet rich in spinach, kale, corn, squash, kiwi and grapes. The lutein and zeaxanthin pigments in these foods are thought to help prevent cataract and macular degeneration.

  7. Skincare: Cutting back on animal products also means skipping much of their saturated fats, which are notorious for clogging pores. Plus, many of the vitamins, pigments and phytochemicals in fruits and veggies contribute to healthy skin. The lycopene in tomatoes, for example, helps protect your skin from sun damage, and the vitamin C in sweet potatoes smooths wrinkles by stimulating the production of collagen.

What has happened to us? Despite the most advanced medical technology in the world, we are sicker than ever by nearly every measure.

Two out of every three of us are overweight. Cases of diabetes are exploding, especially amongst our younger population. About half of us are taking at least one prescription drug. Major medical operations have become routine, helping to drive health care costs to astronomical levels. Heart disease, cancer and stroke are the country’s three leading causes of death, even though billions are spent each year to “battle” these very conditions. Millions suffer from a host of other degenerative diseases.

Could it be there’s a single solution to all of these problems? A solution so comprehensive, but so straightforward, that it’s mind-boggling that more of us haven’t taken it seriously?

Forks Over Knives examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods.

The movie talks about a couple groundbreaking studies. “One of them took place in China and is still among the most comprehensive health-related investigations ever undertaken. Their research led them to a startling conclusion: degenerative diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even several forms of cancer, could almost always be prevented—and in many cases reversed—by adopting a whole-foods, plant-based diet.”

Find this documentary on Netflix, iTunes, and Amazon!