There are many arguments about which diet is best for you. Nevertheless, health and wellness communities agree that diets emphasizing fresh, whole ingredients and minimizing or eliminating processed foods are superior for overall wellness. The whole food plant-based diet does just that.
It focuses primarily on plants, and is very effective for weight loss and improving health.
This article reviews the whole food plant-based diet, including its potential health benefits and a sample meal plan.
What Is A Whole Food Plant-Based Diet
A whole-food, plant-based diet lets you meet your nutritional needs by focusing on natural, whole, plant food, and is based on the following principles:
Whole food describes natural food that is not processed. That means whole, unrefined, or very minimally refined ingredients.
Plant-based means food that comes from plants and doesn’t include animal ingredients such as meat, dairy, or eggs. The whole food plant-based diet includes vegetables, fruit, legumes (beans, peas, and lentils), nuts and seeds, whole grains, and mushrooms.
Nature normally provides all we need for nutrition, but some of our food has been damaged. For instance, B12 is a nutrient necessary for neurological preservation. Both plant eaters and animal eaters are typically deficient in B12. Humans used to get it by drinking from streams and from eating plants directly from the soil. Animals may get some from rivers and soil, but are often supplemented with it.
Naturally sourced B12 is damaged in our environment from antibiotics, chlorine, and other chemicals. Though many man-made foods are fortified with some B12 (Cyanocobalamin) like milk and cereal, most people still need a supplement. Many in the plant-based world get their B12 from sources like nutritional yeast and unwashed vegetables.
Vitamin D is another important nutrient most humans don’t get enough of. We used to spend most of our time outdoors in the sunshine. Now we spend much of our time indoors in offices, restaurants, on computers, and watching television. Many people live in regions that don’t get enough sun. A supplement of Vitamin D3 is usually necessary to help ensure your immune system is ready to fight illness. It is also important for bone building, regulating the neuromuscular system, and cancer prevention.
Algae omega oil is another supplement needed to replace a food that has been damaged in our environment. Fish are well-known to be contaminated with PCBs, heavy metals, and other cancer causing chemicals – especially salmon and tuna. The fish oil capsules are not much better. Studies have shown that nearly 80% of them still contain health-damaging contaminants. The protein in fish is also known to be strongly connected to other inflammatory diseases, including heart disease.
The Six Food Groups
Here’s a quick overview of the major food categories you’ll enjoy on a plant-based diet, with examples:
- Fruit: Any type of fruit including apple, bananas, grapes, strawberries, or citrus fruits.
- Vegetables: Plenty of vegetables including greens like spinach, kale, or collards, bell peppers, or corn.
- Tubers: Root vegetables like potatoes, carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, or beets.
- Whole grains: Grains like oats, brown rice, ancient grains like farro, millet, wheat, barley, or bulgur.
- Legumes: Beans, peas, and lentils including tempeh and tofu.
- Fats or Omega Fatty Acids: Nuts and Seeds, and avocado. It is good to eat these in moderation or minimally because they can contribute to weight gain and elevated cholesterol levels.
Some Benefits Of A Plant-Based Diet
A diet high in animal-based and highly processed food makes people sick and overweight. But many of these can be prevented, halted, and often reversed. A whole food, plant-based diet has been shown to:
- Lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar
- Reverse or prevent heart disease
- Prevent and reverse obesity
- Lower risk of damaging effects of Type 1 diabetes and eliminate Type 2 Diabetes.
- Slow or halt the progression of certain types of cancer
- Eliminate inflammation and pain from rheumatoid arthritis
- Improve overall quality of life
- There are many other benefits thousands of people have enjoyed too!
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