How Plant-Based Diets Affect the Body
It’s no secret Americans have terrible eating habits. According to health.gov’s Dietary Guidelines 2015-2020, ¾ of the U.S. population has a diet low in vegetables, fruits, dairy and oils. Not surprisingly, 2/3 of adults in the US are overweight or obese.
But the recent rise in plant-based eating gives us some hope. But what does that actually mean? You can be a vegetarian (no meat of any kind) or a vegan (no animal products including dairy or eggs), and have a plant-based diet. Sound daunting? Don’t worry; plant-based eating doesn’t require such strict standards. It just means most of your diet is made up of fruits and veggies. Some call themselves “flexitarians” when they go this route.
The numerous benefits are well documented, including not being a diet so much as a lifestyle change. You won’t count carbs or calories. Instead, you determine just how much of your food intake is from plant sources. No cheating, failing or rules because you are in charge.
But remember, not all plant-based foods are equally healthy. Drinking a sugary glass of apple juice is not the same thing as eating an apple. Cutting out or limiting meat won’t do you much good if you indulge in processed foods full of sugars, sodium and unhealthy fats.
What can you gain from eating a plant-based diet?
1. Lose weight. A plant-based diet means less fatty, processed and high-calorie food. It also makes you feel fuller, meaning you’re less likely to sneak back into the kitchen to grab something unhealthy. This eating style reduces BMI and helps you lose that stubborn weight around your middle, which is a strong indicator of serious health threats. That also means greatly cutting your risk of Type 2 diabetes, or improving it.
2. Lower cholesterol and blood pressure. These two factors are huge when looking at the number one killer in America; heart disease.
3. Brain health. Eating a plant-based diet has been found to reduce cognitive impairment and dementia, slow Alzheimer’s and may even reverse cognitive decline.
4. Lower cancer risks. This diet is tied to a reduced rate of many cancers, which is the number two cause of U.S. deaths.
5. Longer life span and higher quality of life. To not only live longer, but also well, is perhaps the ultimate benefit.