How a Plant Based Diet Can Transform Your Weight and Heart Health
You can’t beat a plant-based diet for its short- and long-term health benefits. While many misguided people are turning to either a high protein or a ketogenic diet (high fat, low carb) to lose weight, the research continues to favor a plant-based diet. While there are potential short-term weight loss benefits of the other dietary options, the reality is they frequently lead to heart disease or cancer in the long term.
And, more and more research continues to demonstrate that a plant-based diet has profound healing benefits, ranging from balancing weight in those who are overweight or obese, to protecting the heart from atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries as a result of plaque formation). In other words, a plant-based diet can, not only help us to reset our metabolism, it can help to significantly reduce our heart disease risk.
The study, published in the medical journal Nutrients, found that a plant-based diet reduces the risk of a heart attack by a whopping 40 percent and the risk of a stroke by 29 percent. If any drug had that kind of impressive result, there’d be a huge price hike and a serious shortage of it. And, after almost three decades of nutrition research, I have yet to see the studies that show these types of heart health benefits from other types of diets.
Short-term weight loss should not come at the expense of your long-term health, and fortunately, with a plant-based diet, it doesn’t have to. In my clinical experience, I regularly heard about the many “side-effects” of my prescribed plant-based diet, including: reduced pain among those with fibromyalgia or arthritis, normalized markers for pre-cancerous conditions, balanced hormone profiles, reduced blood pressure (in those with high blood pressure) and much more. This experience is further validated by the Nutrients study, which also found a 50 percent reduction in metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes in those who followed a plant-based diet.
So, what exactly constitutes a plant-based diet? Well, opinions differ but the name tends to define it fairly well: a diet that is based around plant foods. Where people differ is whether it means a plant-exclusive diet or not. Regardless, if your diet is largely made up of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains, you can expect to experience greater immunity, energy and other health benefits.
Why would a plant-based diet be superior to other types of diets? Well, there are actually many reasons. Plant-based diets tend to be much higher in fiber. Fiber not only ensures bowel regularity, it helps to maintain healthy gut flora populations. It keeps waste matter moving out of the body, rather than being absorbed through the intestinal walls into the blood stream. Most nutrients are absorbed through the intestinal walls so this is important to both prevent harmful substances in the blood but also to ensure the proper absorption of critical vitamins and minerals that are essential to every life function.
Plant-based diets tend to be higher in water, which is integral to the healthy functioning of every cell in your body. Without adequate water, even brain electrical signals can start to misfire. These diets also tend to be high in anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and other healing phytonutrients that are only found in plant foods. Plant-based diets are also usually lower in saturated fats, particularly those whose dietary fats are largely derived from nuts, seeds and avocado.
But where will you get your protein? This question is truly the nemesis of everyone who eats a plant-based diet. But, for those who aren’t sure, every plant food contains protein. Every. Single. One. Legumes like lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans and other beans tend to be excellent sources of protein. Nuts and seeds are also high in protein. Simply snacking on these foods or adding them to a salad, soup, curry, or stew can help you ensure more than an adequate supply of protein.
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