There’s so much debate going on about nutrition and what is considered healthy, especially when it comes to the topic of weight loss. In the end, we have to face the facts: there’s no quick fix for healthy eating or a “one size fits all” recipe. A healthy diet is a lifestyle choice. As such, it needs to be sustainable long-term. Healthy eating is about balance, relying on natural and unprocessed foods, and finding what works best for your body and mind.
But where do you start and what should you focus on? There is one answer that experts and various studies are pointing to: the power of plants. A plant-based diet is not exclusively vegetarian or vegan, but simply a diet that primarily focuses on plant sources and limits (or entirely excludes) animal products. Here are the scientifically proven ways this nutritional choice benefits our health and wellbeing.
1. Regulate your blood pressure
Studies have shown that a vegetarian diet is associated with lower blood pressure. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a condition that millions of people suffer from which leads to a high risk of heart disease and stroke. A plant-based whole foods diet is suggested as one of the best natural treatments.
2. Effective weight control
Loading your plate with veggies, protein-rich grains (such as quinoa), and healthy plant-based sources of fat (such as avocado, nuts, and seeds) is one of the best ways to get super full – and give your body all the nutrients it needs, without the extra calories. You can even rely on healthier snack options and protein-packed desserts such as NuGo Protein Cookies to satisfy your cravings without grave consequences. Unlike fad diets and rigorous calorie-counting, a plant-based diet becomes a part of your lifestyle that makes weight maintenance significantly easier.
3. Support gut health
A plant-based diet is packed with fiber from fruits, veggies, legumes, seeds, and grains. Fiber is crucial for preventing constipation, improving digestion, reducing inflammation, and maintaining healthy gut flora. A high-fiber diet that particularly focuses on non-resistant starches (these come from grains, seeds, and legumes) is the best way to a healthy gut.
4. Prevent chronic disease
A plant-based diet doesn’t only contribute to a healthy heart and prevent you from developing cardiovascular diseases. A well-balanced plant-based diet relies mostly on natural, unprocessed sources such as fruits, veggies, and whole grains, which means that is it high in fiber, low in saturated fat, and much lower in added sugar. Along with blood pressure regulation, this type of diet brings a number of other health benefits such as improved blood sugar and healthy weight regulation. That’s why it has been linked to preventing chronic diseases such as diabetes and even associated with a lowered risk of cancer.
5. Improve emotional well-being
Plants are not only great for your body, but research has proven that a plant-based diet can be great for your mind too. Basing your diet around fresh produce helps lower anxiety, raise dopamine levels naturally, and thus improve your overall mood. The old saying says, “a healthy mind in a healthy body”, and it’s no surprise that the physical effects of a plant-based diet are closely associated with its benefits to mental and emotional wellbeing.
6. Healthy skin
You might have noticed your skin acting up after holiday dinners and days of indulgence. There’s no miracle skincare product that can give you beautiful, radiant skin if your diet is chock-full of saturated fats, chemicals, and sugar. Just like the rest of your body, your biggest organ needs plenty of nutrients and hydration to be at its best. Fruits and veggies are full of minerals, vitamins, and phytochemicals, and consuming these on the regular is your best way to radiant skin. Plus, being full of H2O, they’re a great way to better hydration, which your skin will thank you for.
7. More energy
When you take into account all the benefits of a plant-based diet together, it’s clear to see how they contribute to overall improved energy levels. Getting more nutrients, maintaining a healthy gut, feeling lighter after a full meal, warding off diseases, increasing dopamine levels and maintaining your mood: all of these things together contribute to feeling fresher and enjoying a better quality of life.
These are the most important ways a plant-based diet contributes to your health, and naturally, they are all interconnected. If you want to turn a new leaf this year, you might want to consider giving it a shot. Whichever regime you choose for yourself, make sure to always listen to your body. Keep a journal if it helps, so you can track your habits and how you’re feeling after implementing certain changes. It all boils down to developing a healthy relationship with food and embracing a lifestyle that works to your advantage.