The Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet
By: Bonny Osterhage
Plant-based diets are getting a lot of attention lately thanks to shows like “The Game Changers,” currently featured on Netflix. This documentary provides research and evidence to suggest that a plant-based diet may result in increased performance in athletes as well as promote an improvement in the overall health and fitness of just about anyone.
Before you write off “plant-based” as just another celebrity diet fad, consider that the American Institute for Cancer Research has stated, “evidence shows that eating whole grains, vegetables, and other plant foods contribute to cancer protection,” and “help support a healthy weight.”
Additional studies show that a plant-based diet may even help women who struggle with certain menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes. According to an article featured on healthline.com, a study of more than 17,000 menopausal women showed that “those eating more vegetables, fruits, fiber and soy experienced a 19% reduction in hot flashes compared to the control group.” Need more reasons to consider a tweak to your diet? Check out these additional benefits:
- Good Gut Health: Plants are high in fiber, which can keep things moving smoothly when it comes to our digestion and gut health. Why does that matter? Because a healthy gut can more readily absorb nutrients from the foods we consume, which in-turn helps us to better utilize them throughout our bodies.
- Weight Loss: Maintaining a healthy weight, especially as we get older, is about more than just aesthetics. It reduces our risk for things like heart disease, diabetes, and even some cancers. You don’t need to be an expert to know that filling up on nutrient dense, plant-based options rather than calorie-laden, fat-filled, processed foods is going to result in more noticeable weight loss.
- A Stronger Immune System: In today’s world, a strong immune system is more important than ever. Plants contain the essential nutrients your body needs to stay balanced, strong, and healthy, especially as we enter cold and flu season.
While the benefits of a plant-based diet are plentiful, it is important to remember that “plant-based” doesn’t automatically equate to healthy. French fries and potato chips would technically fall into the plant-based category, but we know that they aren’t considered “healthy” foods and shouldn’t be part of our balanced, plant-based diet. Smothering vegetables in cheese or frying them up in oil or butter also defeats the purpose. Keep your focus on whole, real foods and let the colors, flavors, and benefits shine through.