Plant-based diets are characterised by an eating style that comprises wholefoods, of which are mostly plants. In respect to health, the evidence conveys that a diet comprising 90% or more plants results in significant health benefits, including living better and living longer.
To further elaborate, the term plant-based is used to describe a diet that focuses on real, unprocessed plant foods, including: vegetables, legumes, whole grains, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices. Animal foods, including meats, seafood, chicken, eggs and dairy, are kept to a minimal or completely excluded. Highly processed foods, such as white sugars, bleached flours and highly-refined oils, found in most packaged foods are completely avoided.
A BITE OF THE BENEFITS
Plant-based diets are low in:
Saturated (unhealthy) fats
Toxic molecules (e.g. heterocyclic amines, glycation end products, nitroso compounds)
Plant-based diets are high in:
A plant-based diet is more than just a way of eating; it is a nutrition lifestyle that enhances overall health, including improved energy levels, mood, immune function, skin, digestion and well-being. Furthermore, it reduces the risk of a significant number of diseases, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancers.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states that…
Well-planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are completely healthful and nutritionally adequate for people throughout all stages of life and they have a number of health advantages, including lower blood cholesterol levels, lower risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure levels, and lower risk of hypertension and type 2 diabetes.
Plant-based diets are more environmentally sustainable than diets rich in animal foods because they use less natural resources and are associated with significantly less environmental damage.
In addition, vegetarians tend to have a lower body weight and lower overall cancer rates, lower intakes of saturated fat and cholesterol, and higher levels of dietary fibre, magnesium, potassium, vitamin C and vitamin E, folate, carotenoids, flavonoids, and other phytochemicals.
IN COMPARISON... STANDARD WESTERN-DIETS
Over the past 50 years, developed countries like Australia and the USA has seen a dietary shift characterised by significantly higher intakes of meat. Statistics show that meat composes a significant portion of the “normal” diet for most people; now contributing more than 15% of the daily caloric intake, around 40% of the protein intake, and more than 20% of the fat intake.
Shifts from earlier traditional diets that comprised rich amounts of fruits and vegetables, to Standard Western diets, those that contain excess animal foods, as well as large amounts of processed foods high in sodium, refined carbohydrates, sugars and unhealthy fats, plus are low in fibre and overall nutrient quality, have adversely affected population health. As a result of these nutritional changes, we are seeing ever-increasing illness, including acute conditions, mental issues and chronic disease. To note, chronic disease is the leading cause of death and morbidity worldwide, particularly in western-developed countries like Australia and the USA.
The evidence is clear in that the more processed and animal foods you eat, the greater your risk for:
Cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke)
Overweight and obesity
Hypertension (high blood pressure)
Irritable bowel syndrome
Anxiety and depression
Many other ill-health effects
AND SO… WHY EAT PLANT-BASED?
BETTER HEALTH, better well-being and less disease
Countless scientific studies have shown, and continue to show, that plant-based diets can significantly prevent and manage chronic disease, including obesity, as well as reverse a great number of health conditions. Furthermore, eating a plant-based diet will improve your general health and well-being on a daily basis, via promoting the optimal functioning of your body processes.