The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather cure and prevent disease with nutrition.Thomas Edison
So, here we are. Well, actually, it really is: Here I am.
While my journey of a transition to a healthier life and incorporating a plant-based diet into my lifestyle is a personal one, I have chosen to share it with you in hopes that it will be inspiring to both of us. I know there are many of you out there in the same boat that I am when it comes to our health. And now, there is no better day than today to start.
Why a Plant-Based Diet?
At the beginning, it’s important to understand what a plant based diet is and how it contributes to better nutrition.
So where do I start? The first step is to eat more plants! Chances are that growing up, Mom told all of us to eat more fruits and vegetables. Well, guess what? Mom was right! And now dietitians and doctors are backing her up with the science to prove it. A plant-based diet has strong scientific support for improving health, boosting energy levels, and preventing chronic diseases.
Let’s dig into the science and learn how (and why) to incorporate more plant-based foods into your diet!
The National Institute on Aging just published an article in which their research found that those who adhered to a healthy set of behaviors were found to have a 60% lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The behaviors included: exercise, a quality diet, no smoking, low alcohol consumption, and cognitive activities to exercise the mind.
What is a Plant-Based Diet?
A plant-based diet, or eating plan, focuses on foods that primarily come from plants. This includes fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes, and beans. When selecting plant-based foods, think “how close is this to its whole, natural form?” Plant-based foods in their whole, unrefined, or minimally refined form offer the most health benefits. Who doesn’t want to get the most bang for their buck, especially when it comes to nutrition?
For example, drinking 100% fruit juice does not offer the same health benefits as eating the whole fruit. The 100% fruit juice is highly processed and therefore has a higher sugar content and also has been stripped of its fiber and vitamins.
Plant-based foods offer so many wonderful health benefits. This is why dietitians and doctors look to the plant-based diet often when making nutrition recommendations. Alli Gregg, registered and licensed dietitian and competitive marathon runner, states, “A plant-based diet helps many achieve their nutrition goals. Whether it is weight loss, weight management, disease prevention, fighting inflammation, boosting daily energy, or improving athletic performance, a plant based diet acts as a strong foundation.”
What are the Benefits of Plant-Based Diets
Plant-based diets are full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, phytochemicals, and antioxidants. All of these components work together to lower blood pressure, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, inflammation, and maintain a healthy weight. They also lower the risk of many chronic diseases including diabetes and heart disease.
So all of this sounds great, but does the science back it up? Yes! Here’s how:
Transitioning to a plant-based diet seems overwhelming. However, chances are you already enjoy a lot of plant-based foods, including:
My lifestyle and diet transition will be a gradual one with a few meals a week as plant based and next to no red meat. I spent the last weekend testing a few recipes, and I loved these two options. I hope you will too.
Now, I am armed with the science, tons of nutritional resources, and a fiery clinical dietitian. So, it’s time to start.
Both of the following recipes are super yummy, gluten-free, vegan and very flavorful. Pair them with a great green salad, and they’re terrific for easy weeknight dinners. I felt satiated and happy after eating both of them, and honestly, I didn’t miss the red meat I would likely have prepared instead of these healthy alternatives.
I admit, this trek isn’t going to be an easy one. Baby steps as they say, right?! So far, so good with finding tasty and healthy alternatives in my diet.
Here’s to a healthier and happier mind and body — for me and for you!
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