Plant Based Diet; Benefits and Potential Problems

Plant Based Diet

Most people embark on the journey of adopting a bona fide whole food, plant based diet, solely to reap the rewards of a trimmed down waist, and enhance the quality of their life, but while the goal of physical wellbeing is imperative, this tweak in life style can impart innumerable benefits to your health as well. Following a strict plant-based diet requires perseverance and needs one to step outside their mainstream meat gorging culture that seeks to keep us comfortably numb, while intellectually anesthetized. Adhering to a vegan lifestyle, on the other hand, is our actual biological diet!

Whether you converse with a physician, Raw Foodie, Flexitarian, naturopath, Vegan, Paleo, or a Bacontarian, they would unanimously agree that plant based diets supply more nutrients, anti-oxidants, vitamins, Fiber, Minerals, Micronutrients, phytochemicals—natural substances in plants that keep our bodies strong and healthy, and much less damaging fats per serving; a recipe for optimal health.

A rudimentary plant based diet comprises of Vegetables, Fruits, whole grains (Quinoa, Oats, Wheat berries, White rice), whole soy foods (Tofu, Soy milk, Tempeh), legumes (Beans, peas, Lentils), nuts and nut butters (Hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, pistachios, pecans, Brazil nuts, Macadamia, and peanuts), seeds, and seed butters (Chia, Sesame, Sunflower, Hemp, Pumpkin). Here’s what your body can glean with a Plant based diet:

Plants have Moderate Saturated Fats

Saturated oils and fats are solids at room temperature and are typically found in meat and animal products, such as lamb, Cheese, beef, butter, coconut oil, and high fat dairy products.  According to experts at the American Heart Association, consuming high levels of saturated fats augments the level of cholesterol in your blood stream, which in turn puts you at a greater risk for cardiovascular diseases and strokes.

However, completely eliminating fats in your diets have severe health repercussions, because saturated fats aid the liver in dumping its fat cells, thereby enhancing its functions. Saturated fatty acids boost immunity and augment the production of the hormone testosterone, which helps to preserve muscles, repair damaged tissues, and improve sexual function. Since animal based saturated fats cause a rise in cholesterol levels, these should be replaced by the healthy saturated fats found in plant based products, such as Avocado, coconut oil, cocoa butter, olive oil (raw, not cooked),  and nut butters, since these saturated fats are healthy and don’t affect LDL.

Lower Blood Pressure

A research from the Harvard school of public health suggests that due to a higher consumption of potassium loaded fare, people who strictly adhere to a plant based diet normally have low blood pressures. Potassium keeps the blood pressure in check and is consumed amply in a vegetarian diet, such as whole grains, nuts, legumes, seeds, and all fruits and vegetables. Plant based diet followers (vegans) have alesser prevalence of hypertension andlower systolic and diastolic blood pressures than meat eaters.

Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes

According to the International Diabetes Federation, roughly 387 million individuals are afflicted by the nuisance of Diabetes. The most viable way to curb the blood glucose level from soaring is to consume more fiber. Fiber slows down the absorption of glucose in the blood stream and serves to check your appetite.  Type 2 diabetes is entirely preventable, and plenty of research suggests a plant-based diet can help ward off the disease. Thus, Veganism is a healthy alternative to conventional diet, for improving glycemic control and blood lipids.

Healthy Gut and Immune system

Increasing evidence suggests that plant based diet promotes the healthy gut microbiota which strengthens our immune system and the digestive system. EPIC study found alleviated rate of hospital admissions and risk of death from diverticular disease among vegetarians (BMJ, 2011). Animal based products induce chronic inflammation and oxidative stress that leads to the development of brain related disorders, such as Alzheimer’s. High adherence to a vegetarian diet, on the other hand, is linked with a 48% lower risk of Alzheimer’s. (Archives Neurology, 2009)

Enhanced Digestion

Whole grains, nuts, vegetables, fruits, legumes, seeds, and beans incorporate ample fiber which is an essential nutrient for digestion, healthy blood sugar, and heart health. Whole food sources are loaded with both soluble and insoluble fiber that supports digestion and keeps your body satiated for long. Since fiber breaks down slowly in the body, it doesn’t cause a spike in the blood sugar levels, and thus avert Diabetes. However, it is prudent not to go too high on fiber which might upset the digestive system, and aspire to eat a healthy, balanced diet.

Lower Risks of Cancer

Animal meat and products have been linked to cancer, especially breast, mouth, esophagus, pharynx, pancreas, stomach, lung, prostate, and colon cancer. According to the British journal of cancer, vegetarians have a 12% lower risk of cancer than those who eat an animal-based diet, since vegan fare is loaded with antioxidants that are imperative to neutralizing free radicals that cause aging and chronic disease, including cancer.

Potential Problems of Consuming a Plant Based Diets

Although Vegan diets are a blessing for your body, unfortunately they lack in a few nutritional areas that need to be supplemented adequately to promote a healthy growth and development. Plant diets are deficient in Vitamin B12, a water-soluble vitamin, involved in the formation of blood, DNA synthesis, and neurological functions. A minor deficiency of vitamin B-12, or Cobalamin, can lead to fatigue, anemia, depression, and mania, while a chronic deficiency can potentially cause permanent damage to the brain and central nervous system. If you are completely off meat, other natural sources of vitamin B12 that should be incorporated in your diet are Cheese, Whey Powder, Yeast Extract spreads, Fortified cereals and Soymilk. Additionally, you can think about consuming daily dietary supplements to alleviate any deficits. In addition, meat and dairy products are a rich source of Vitamin D and Calcium, which are imperative for healthy bones and Teeth. If you are going vegan, aim for 15 minutes of sun exposure a day, or consume Vitamin D fortified foods, such as orange juice and soy milk to make up for the scarcity of Vitamin D, and aspire to eat total of two servings per day of calcium fortified foods, such as plant-based milk alternatives, tofu, or orange juice, almonds, and one serving of dark leafy vegetables to maintain calcium levels in your body.

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