Eating plants used to be all about saving animal lives. But increasingly more doctors and researchers are finding it may be even better at saving your own.
We are all too familiar with the many “Healthy” diet fads. Every decade, and lately, it seems every year, there is a new one. Low Carb, Paleo, Gluten Free, and Keto have been the buzzwords of late. While these diets have aimed almost exclusively at helping you lose weight, with the added benefit of some health promoting properties, the latest health trend is one you can jump on for more than shallow reasons.
Doctors are finding that when they help their patients switch to Plant based diets they can stop the progression of disease and cancer, and in some cases, things even seem to be reversed. It seems these small plants are hard hitters when it comes up against almost all of the nation’s leading killers, Heart Disease, High Blood Pressure, High Cholesterol, Diabetes, and even Cancer.
So what exactly is a plant based diet? It’s a diet where you focus on eating all different types of plants in abundance. There usually are not calorie, carb, or fat restrictions but instead recommendations to follow for how many servings you should eat from each plant group; Leafy Greens, Vegetables, Fruits, Legumes, Grains, and Nuts and Seeds. Things like Meat, Dairy Products, Oils, Sugar and Processed Foods are usually strongly discouraged.
Isn’t that the same as being Vegan? Not exactly. A plant based diet is not so much focussed on what you can’t eat (meat or animal products) as it is focussed on what you should and shouldn’t eat. For example, you could follow the Vegan guidelines of not eating any meat or animal products and not really get any of the disease fighting effects from a plant based diet. In fact, you could still have Prime Rib on your birthday or Turkey at Thanksgiving and still reap the benefits of a plant based diet, as long as you are eating all the other things that you should be. Furthermore, although not eating animals may be a choice made for moral and ethical reasons, it usually isn’t a motivating factor behind why people switch to the plant based diet in the first place. Though this may be upsetting to some Vegans, it’s a good thing for everyone. Why? Well, no matter what the reason for not eating meat, animal lives are being spared and bettered due to the choice. Sure, they may occasionally eat meat but with the rising popularity of the plant based diet this could mean a huge decrease in the demand for animal products. Plus, when the emphasis of the diet is placed on what you can eat (plants) it is more likely to draw in the crowd that was turned off to the idea of Veganism because of societal stereotypes about what type of a person a Vegan is.
Despite not having a huge moral or ethical logos behind it (other than saving your life) a plant based diet is ultimately a lifestyle change. Most people who commit to it did so in order to make changes to their health. The doctors who are advocating for it do so as a way to get their patients off of drugs that are either not helping them, or having such bad side effects they need to find another way. Many people are becoming so healthy on this diet they not only feel better but can completely kick the prescriptions to the curb. While this is great news for many people, If you switch to this diet to change your health, you’ve got to stick to it.
It is not just the sick and dying that find this diet beneficial. And even though it may seem like a huge sacrifice when you consider the typical western diet, many people have tried it and stuck with it because of how life changing it really is. One research study was trying to see the effects on people going on and off a plant based diet. The study monitored people on their normal diet, then switched them to a plant based diet for three weeks. After that, they were supposed to switch back to their normal diet, however, so many people refused to switch back that the study had a hard time getting enough data so they could publish their findings. People felt so good on the plant based diet they did not want to switch back. And, not only does a Plant based diet make you feel better, but by studying the disease rates in populations that adhere to plant based diets and conducting numerous research studies, research has shown that your risk of developing disease is significantly lowered when you eat a plant based diet. So instead of worrying and wondering over all the heart disease and cancer in your family, go pick up a few more veggies at the grocery store. It could save your life.