Is the adoption of a plant-based diet the solution to the alarming rates of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, not only in the U.S., but worldwide? As more health professionals look for cost-effective, low-risk interventions to improve health outcomes, the recommendation to embrace healthier eating through a plant-based diet appears to be gaining acceptance. A general willingness by the public to adhere to dietary changes as a first line of defense for prevention and treatment of chronic illnesses is also increasing. This is good news, as a strong body of evidence favors plant-based diets to turn the rising tide of certain chronic diseases. A plant-based diet regime encourages consumption of whole, plant-based food, including green leafy, cruciferous, and sea vegetables, fruits, legumes, beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and discourages or limits animal products, as well as all refined and processed foods.
While many live to eat, our dietary goal should be to improve health by eating for a healthier life. Plant-based diets offer an advantage in the prevention and management of diabetes, lower the risk of ischemic heart disease, and are highly effective for weight loss and obesity prevention. Data presented at the 2018 meeting of the American Society of Nutrition linked a balanced, high quality plant-based diet to a wealth of health benefits. Research shows that plant-based diets, rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients can reduce the risk factors for developing heart disease, metabolic syndrome, obesity, hypertension, diabetes, inflammatory conditions, and some cancers.
While many think of plant-based diets as strictly vegan or vegetarian, there is actually a range of healthy, largely plant-based traditional diets that rely on widely available plant foods and include moderate amounts of quality animal foods. The healthy Mediterranean diet, for example, allows foods such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy in limited amounts, and favors salads, vegetables, fruits, whole grains and healthy fats. There are some concerns regarding nutrient deficiencies associated with those who follow a strict vegan diet, which excludes all animal products. Vegans need to pay attention to the quality of their diet to ensure they are getting sufficient protein, calcium, and essential fatty acids, as well as vitamins D and B12.
Keep in mind that a quality plant-based diet should be full of fresh, minimally processed, nutrient-rich foods. Simply reducing consumption of animal foods doesn’t necessarily lead to a healthier diet, or greater health protection, when a diet is based on less healthy plant-derived foods, such as refined grains, pasta, French fries and chips. To transition to a healthier, more plant-based diet, make small manageable changes like adding more vegetables and salads to your daily meals. Eat mostly plants as best you can and avoid processed and refined foods. The good news: you can eat whenever you’re hungry and until you are satiated. If you are looking to lose weight, pay attention to portion size and make healthy choices.
- Research has shown that a diet centered around whole plant foods may help prevent, treat or reverse some of the leading causes of death, including heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.
- Plant-based diet intervention groups have reported improved digestion, increased energy, and better sleep, as well as improvements in daily functioning and overall wellbeing.
- Numerous published studies have shown that nutrient dense, plant-based diets may be better for weight management and are associated with a lower BMI and a lower prevalence of obesity in adults and children.
- Plant-based diets are low in energy density and high in complex carbohydrates, fiber and water, which help to keep the body hydrated and promote healthy skin.
- Diets high in fiber support digestive function and a harmonious microbiome.
- Eating whole foods sustains energy naturally and provides nutrients for optimal bodily function.
- Antioxidant-rich diets appear to provide protection against stroke by helping to decrease arterial stiffness, lower blood pressure and reduce systemic inflammation.
Professional Supplement Center carries these and other fine quality products to support a healthy diet and lifestyle:
Ultra Protein Green by Douglas Laboratories®: This nutritional powdered formula provides plant-based protein from pea, chia, brown rice, flaxseed and chlorella. Along with naturally occurring essential and non-essential amino acids, antioxidants, essential minerals and B vitamins, Ultra Protein includes a proprietary phytonutrient blend, soluble fiber, probiotics and enzymes. Gluten, wheat, soy, dairy and artificial ingredient free, Non-GMO vegan formulation.
Omnizyme by Empirical Labs: This well balanced plant-based digestive enzyme formula includes enzymatic potentiators from papaya, guava, fennel and pineapple, as well as intestinal soothers sourced from zucchini, willow bark and milk thistle.
Ultra Anti-Oxidant by Douglas Laboratories®: This potent formula provides a wide spectrum of nutritional antioxidants that effectively participate in the body’s free radical defense system. Formulated with antioxidant vitamins, minerals, glutathione and NAC. Gluten, wheat, soy, dairy, yeast, sugar and artificial ingredient free.
Stellar C™ by Designs for Health®: This completely natural plant-based formula provides vitamin C from ascorbic acid and acerola fruit, along with plant and mixed-citrus bioflavonoids known for their immune-protective properties. Gluten, wheat, soy, egg, dairy and artificial ingredient free, vegetarian formulation.
AntiOxidant Formula by Pure Encapsulations®: This hypoallergenic formula offers a broad spectrum of antioxidants to help defend against cellular free radical and oxidative damage. Formulated with essential vitamins and minerals, mixed carotenoids and milk thistle. Gluten and soy free, Non-GMO formulation.
Nutritional Update for Physicians: Plant-Based Diets. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3662288/
Health effects of vegan diets. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/89/5/1627S/4596952
Nutrition 2018: New data confirm health benefits of plant-based diet. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322072.php
An R.D. Explains Why She Sticks To A Plant-Based Diet. https://www.self.com/story/an-rd-explains-health-benefits-plant-based-diet
The right plant-based diet for you. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-right-plant-based-diet-for-you