A case for adding more plants to your diet
Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.
—Hippocrates, c 460-370 BCE, ancient Greek physician, known as the father of modern medicine
What is most important to you? Simply put, what aspects of life do you value the most? Is it relationships with loved ones, setting and achieving personal goals, or even simply doing the things you love? Whatever comes to mind, think this. None of it would be possible without having good health first. But what exactly does it mean to be “healthy” and how does one know if they are truly “healthy” or not? Since the beginning of mankind, scientists have studied human health. In more recent times though, scientists have begun to ferociously study the direct connection between health and diet. Diet directly correlates with physical energy and focus, cardiac health, and arguably the largest connection, disease. Studies show that a plant-based diet can increase energy and mental focus, improve cardiac health, promote weight loss, and prevent and even reverse diseases such as dementia, diabetes, and cancer.
What exactly is a plant-based diet? The title “plant-based diet” is sort of general as it can refer to a vegetarian, vegan, or pescetarian diet, etc. Generally, a plant-based diet consists of a plentiful amount of fruits and vegetables, beans and legumes, unrefined whole-grains, soy products, and healthy fats such as olive oil, avocado, and nuts. This also includes consuming very limited amounts of refined sugar.
Countless numbers of studies have been done to show the effects of a plant-based diet on health. In fact, the ADA, American Diabetes Association, recommends a plant-based diet to prevent or reverse type 2 diabetes. Studies show that a plant-based diet will actually lower blood pressure. People who consume a total of eight servings per day of fruits and vegetables have a 30% lower chance of a heart attack or stroke. In the well-known Lyon Diet Heart Study, a group of people followed a plant-based diet consisting of mostly fruits and vegetables, healthy fats such as olive oil, and beans and legumes. In comparison to a different group of people who followed a modern “western” diet, the plant-based diet group had a 73% decrease in heart attacks and a 70% decrease in overall mortality. Also, plant-based diets are typically very rich in fruits and vegetables which contain large amounts of cancer-fighting nutrients. In 2015, the American Cancer Society announced that cancer survivors should follow plant-based diets, contrary from the typical western diets, with large amounts of fruits and vegetables as well as unrefined grains.
Another case study performed throughout the 1990s showed that a diet with a minimal to nonexistent intake of animal fats significantly decreased the risk of breast cancer in women. The list of studies conducted could go on for pages but the evidence is there. A plant-based diet is the most beneficial. So asking again, what is most important to you? Whatever it is, a plant-based lifestyle may allow you to have it. For more information, case-studies, or guides for a plant-based diet, follow the links below.
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