What is a plant-based diet?
A plant-based diet is a way of eating that focuses entirely or mostly on consuming whole plants, avoiding or reducing processed foods. This includes vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains, beans, and legumes. It does not necessarily require eating a strictly vegetarian or vegan diet or fully exclude all animal products.
Many studies have been conducted on plant-focused diets to include vegetarian, vegan, and Mediterranean diets. A well-formulated plant-based diet includes protein, fats, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals for optimal health. Many times, this way of eating provides more fiber and phytonutrients than diets more centered around meat and protein sources. Nutrition Therapy can help you determine which style of eating is best for your body.
Benefits of a plant-based diet:
- High fiber content can help aid weight loss, lowering cholesterol, and improved digestion.
- High phytonutrient and antioxidant content can help improve overall health and immune function.
- Low acidity and toxin-load can help detoxify the body and reduce illness.
- Heart health can improve with fiber content and added nutrient intake.
- Decreased cancer risk with high antioxidants and fiber content.
- Decreased cognitive decline with improved nutrient intake.
- Decreased diabetes risk with improved blood-sugar regulation and decreased processed food intake.
Additional positives of a plant-based diet:
A whole-food, plant-based diet can be good for the environment – when crops are not heavily sprayed with pesticides or growing GMO plants. Confined animal farms and production take a lot of our natural resources for feed, water, and processing. Some studies show switching from a Western meat-centered diet (primariy derived from factory farms) to a plant-centered diet could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 70%. Many vegetarians and vegans have made the switch due to the care and handling of the animals raised in commercial food-production. Not supporting the commercial meat industry means less animals are raised in inhumane conditions. However, not all farms raise their animals in inhumane conditions. Check our regenerative farming for animals raised on open lands with natural grasses to feed on.
The bottom line of a whole-foods, plant-based approach:
- Emphasizes whole, minimally processed foods.
- Limits animal products and often prioritizes animals raised in natural pasture environments.
- Focuses on plants, including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, seeds and nuts.
- Excludes processed foods, like added sugar, white flour and highly processed oils.
- Promotes locally sourced, organic food whenever possible.
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Disclaimer: all styles of eating and all foods have both pros and cons. There is NO one perfect diet for all. I firmly believe we function best when we consume a wide variety of nutrients – both plant and animal. I am a big supporter of phases of eating – changing up macronutrient ratios, ingredients, cooked/raw foods, and even seasonal eating.