Switching to a more plant based diet could improve your health. Luscious green leaves, voluptuous veggie and fabulous fruit help to prevent disease and increase your natural vitality. Find out how nature’s delicious goodies could even slow down the aging process, helping you look and feel fantastic.
You Really Are What you Eat
Your body is made from the food you consume so it makes sense that your diet directly impacts your wellbeing, right? Scientists are rapidly revealing that plants have a direct and significant impact on the DNA in every cell of the body. Plant-based compounds regulate and control our body at the most fundamental level via our DNA, this is the new sciences of nutrigenomics and nutrigenetics.
Evidence-based research clearly shows that eating more plants is the best choice you can make for your health. Here’s the low-down on 10 ways that consuming plants will provide you with benefits certified by Mother Nature herself.
Benefit #1: Prevent Heart Disease
It’s a sad fact that our diets contribute to the most common, yet preventable, diseases afflicting humankind. Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide and various studies have shown a link between the consumption of meat and an increased risk of heart disease.
A vegetarian diet is typically lower in cholesterol and higher in nutrients to support a healthy heart and lower blood pressure. The American Heart Association says “many studies have shown that vegetarians seem to have a lower risk of obesity, coronary heart disease (which causes heart attacks), high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus and some forms of cancer. “
Benefit #2: Reduce Cancer Risk
The power of fruits and vegetables as chemo-preventive agents (protecting you from cancer) has only relatively recently been quantified and is becoming recognized as a vital strategy in lowering cancer risk. For example:
Young women who eat four or more servings per week of raw or lightly cooked cabbage — such as coleslaw or steamed sauerkraut — may significantly reduce their risk of breast cancer later in life, according to results of a study led by Dorothy R. Pathak, Ph.D., of the University of New Mexico. [Source]
Plant foods act as a natural defense against cancer since they provide cancer-fighting antioxidants and phytochemicals. Consuming a wide and colorful variety of vegetables and fruits is key to providing the body with the spectrum of nutrients needed to support the immune system and prevent disease.
Benefit #3: Avoid Diabetes
There is an epidemic of diabetes in America, and in fact the world. The incidence has quadrupled in the last 30 years and the pharmaceutical industry rakes in vast profits from the condition (which is essentially a form of slow food poisoning from a diet high in processed foods).
Processed foods typically contain less nutrients and more toxins, making incidence of disease more likely, specifically meat has also been associated with Diabetes. Harvard researchers found that the risk of developing diabetes was increased by a huge 19% from daily consumption of a relatively small amount of red meat12. The journal of Nutrition Reviews stated that “individuals following vegetarian diets are about half as likely to develop diabetes, compared with non-vegetarians”
Benefit #4: Lose Weight
For most people, switching from a meat based diet to a plant based one will naturally support healthy weight loss. The increased macronutrients in a plant-based diet means you need to consume less food to get the same nutrition in comparison to meat eaters. Your digestive system will be grateful for the increased fibre and your gut bacteria can extract more nutrients. A recent analysis published in the Journal for General Internal Medicine found that “individuals assigned to the vegetarian diet groups lost significantly more weight than those assigned to the non-vegetarian diet groups” (more info)
Benefit #5. Better Skin
Your skin forms a vital defensive layer of your immune system and also plays a significant role in detoxing the body. When the body is toxic, for example if you smoke, that toxicity shows up in grey and tired looking skin. We typically perceive the signs of aging in the skin first as it loses elasticity and strength causing wrinkles.
Supporting the body with a high and regular dose of anti-oxidants not only nourishes the skin but also prevents the toxic build-up which makes it age more rapidly. So if you want to keep your skin looking and feeling young and fresh then pile the antioxidant rich fresh fruits and veg onto your plate. Remember to eat a rainbow to get a wide selection of nutrients and anti-oxidants. (more info)
Benefit #6: Improve Mood
Recent research indicates that a vegetarian diet is associated with improved mood. Substances found in meat, such as arachidonic acid, lower mood. So, when you reduce or eliminate meat from the diet mood is improved. While more research is needed in this area several studies have shown that vegetarians are happier and report less negative emotions than meat eaters.
Benefit #7: Cognitive Protection
Alzheimer’s Disease is one of the many neurodegenerative diseases associated with longer lifespan and sadly our modern diet. Fortunately researchers have found that dietary changes can protect your brain from cognitive decline keeping you mental abilities sharp into your senior years. The MIND diet promotes brain healthy foods such as leafy vegetables (spinach and kale), red peppers, squash, carrots, broccoli, nuts, berries, beans, lentils and soybeans. You’ll find a lot of information online these days suggesting that red meats, butter, margarine, cheese, pastries and sweets is also key to protecting your mind. However, you’ll also find information advocating eliminating grains for brain health. Do your own research.
Benefit #8: Libido Enhancement and Hormonal Balance
The hormonal changes experienced at the time of menopause can result in a variety of unwanted symptoms including a drop in libido. Eating plant-based phytoestrogens, which mimic the body’s own hormones, can reduce menopausal symptoms. Women who suffer from menstrual symptoms, specifically mood imbalances, may also find that these natural plant hormones (found in higher doses in ginseng, black cohosh, liquorice root and some soy products) help smooth out pre-menstrual moods and increase natural sexy feelings.
Benefit #9: Longer Healthier Life
Cutting out or cutting back meat is associated with more disease free years and longer life expectancy. The American Society for Clinical Nutrition concluded that “a lifestyle pattern that includes a very low meat intake is associated with greater longevity.”
Animal products take longer for the body to digest. Meat has also been linked to inflammation and the clogging up of narrow blood vessels. The modern intensive farming methods make matters worse by pumping animals with antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals.
Benefit # 10: Conscious Choices
Making a conscious choice about how to nourish your body has a dramatic impact on personal wellbeing. Vegetarians and vegans are used to more carefully reading labels, asking questions and generally caring about what they consume in their diet and as conscious shoppers. This level of personal scrutiny results in a typically lower consumption of toxic processed food and more careful consideration of nutrient requirements.
The End Result
The evidence is clear that eating a vegetarian diet rich in plant-based nutrients promotes physical, mental and even emotional wellbeing. Vegetarian diets also have a significantly lower impact on the planets resources and environment. Happier, healthier and environmentally friendly – plant based eating can be considered the dietary elixir of life. You don’t have to go vegetarian or vegan, but you can add more fruits and veggies into your daily meals and snacks.