As labels like “organic,” “natural” and “local” get more popular, you may have also found yourself intrigued by the idea of a plant-based lifestyle. As Michael Pollan puts it in his book Food Rules, plant-based eating can be summed up in seven, simple words: "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants."
Going plant-based doesn't mean you have to give up eating the occasional steak or wearing leather. It just means you are readjusting your lifestyle to be more focused on products derived from plants(vegetables, fruits, unrefined grains, legumes, nuts).
The benefit? You'll be living a life that is healthier, balanced and more sustainable.
If you’re curious about learning more about the journey to a plant-based lifestyle, read on for 10 of our favorite benefits...
No matter how new you are to the idea of plant-based eating, you’re probably aware that eating more veggies is good for you. There are many reasons for that, but one of the most commonly cited benefits is that it lowers blood pressure. Yes, you heard that right.
According to a recent report in the Journal of the American Medical Association, plant-based eating not only prevents high-blood pressure but can actually lower one’s blood pressure.
Of course, there’s no need to become a full vegetarian or vegan in order to get these benefits. Balance is essential. So, start by making the simple decision to eat more fruits and veggies, and you'll be doing yourself some good. We promise.
Diets rich in fruits and veggies are a boon for heart health, which is not unrelated to our first point. Plant-based diets are known to be high in fiber, which helps decrease the accumulation of plaque (bad cholesterol) in the arteries, the most common cause of heart disease.
Once again, the main idea here is moderation, eating a diet that simply involves less meat and more veggies. Many experts have suggested that best diet for heart health may be the Mediterranean-style diet—rich in vegetables, beans, olive oil, nuts, and some fish and poultry, with limited meat, eggs and dairy.
In his famous book The China Study, Dr. T. Colin Campbellexplores the relationship between the consumption of animal products and chronic illnesses from heart disease to diabetes to cancer.
Animal products contain hormones that change cellular activity in our body and create an acidic environment in the body. Because we all have cancer cells (e.g. fast growing cells), eating meat gives these cells a more hospitable environment in which to proliferate. No thank you.
A plant-based diet, by contrast, is rich in antioxidants and fiber, both of which have the opposite effect—they combat the oxidation of free radicals (known as cancer-causers).
Eating plant-based helps alkalize the body … but what does this mean in lay-terms? The short answer: less chronic inflammation of all sorts—joint pain, redness on the skin, stomach aches.
According to dietician Sharon Palmer, author of The Plant-Powered Diet, there is a relationship between chronic inflammation and insulin resistance. The question of which comes first (insulin resistance or inflammation) remains a question for scientists.
What isn't a question, however, is that plant-based diets decrease inflammation. Many studies have suggested that plant-based eating helps individuals with diabetes heighten their insulin sensitivity, lose weight, and lower blood sugar.
Following a plant-based diet is a foolproof way to lose excess weight the healthy way: slowly and without fixating on calorie-counting.
Plant-based diets are rich in vegetables, fruits, and unrefined grains, all of which are high in fiber and keep you feeling fuller for longer. You'll be less likely to be reaching for that chocolate bar or a handful of chips during the 3 PM slump.
Eating yummy citrus fruits isn't just a good idea for when you're getting a cold...In fact, vitamin C is known to be involved with the synthesis of collagen, the protein in our skin that keeps it elastic.
Plus, you'll also be getting a range of other vitamins, phytonutrients, antioxidants, and pigments. Antioxidants, for instance, fight free radical damage, a common cause of inflammation (AKA redness, wrinkles, rashes, and other skin irregularities).
Many plant-based friends will likely tell you that their lifestyle makes them feel alert and energetic.
And fortunately, their reports are backed by science! Eating more veggies and fruits, and less meat will make you more alert and energetic. Participants even reported feeling more productive, calmer and happier from the plant-based way.
What's interesting here is the mind-body connection. The authors of the study hypothesized that there's a relationship between physical health—eating things that are good for your body—and emotional well-being.
Carrots, leafy greens, grapes, and squash are not only colorful and delicious, but they contain many nutrients that aid vision! Carrots are rich in vitamin A, which supports night-vision. Veggies such as kale, collard greens, spinach and squash (and fruits like grapes) contain a pigment called lutein that has been associated with cataract prevention.
Most of us probably don't get enough magnesium, a mineral with many essential functions in the body—ranging from metabolic regulation to teeth and bone formation. But another little known fact about magnesium is that it's a gentle but powerful sleep aid.
How do you know where to find magnesium? You guessed it: in plant-based diets, as it's abundant in veggies like broccoli, kale, spinach, sweet potatoes, squash, fruits like bananas and avocado and nuts like cashews, walnuts and almonds.
It’s common sense that eating more plants (and less meat) is better for the environment. But now common sense has been proven by a buzz-worthy study out of the University of Minnesota!
The study showed that eating a diet heavy in animal products and refined ingredients increases greenhouse gas emissions and harms habitat for endangered species. Luckily, the inverse is also true: eating plant-based can prevent major environmental damage.
One of the best parts of all this is that plant-based diets are based on simplicity: you’ll be eating things closer to the earth. You’ll be buying fewer expensive products like meat, dairy, and eggs. Simpler. Less expensive. And better for the environment. Enough said.
Switching to a plant-based way of life can be whatever process you want to make it. Try replacing one, two, or three meals a week to be vegetarian, and see how you feel. The plant-based way is not just a diet, but a lifestyle.
This story originally appeared on Well Within Beauty. It has reprinted with permission.