The world of diet and nutrition constantly change, along with what we believe is healthy. If you include plenty of plant based foods in your diet, you’re essentially preventing many common diseases and improving your overall health. In fact, some health conditions can even be treated and/or reversed if you eat the right natural foods.
On the contrary, if you’re eating tons of animal products and processed foods then you’re adding to your risk of some scary health problems. Some foods that have been known to contribute to these diseases and conditions are meat, eggs and dairy products. Luckily, more people are aware of these risks than ever before.
Benefits of Eating a Plant-Based Diet
It seems like every day we hear of some new discovery on the news. Just recently, the FDA finally admitted that the chicken we’ve been eating from the local grocery store likely has arsenic in it. YES, arsenic! Natural health activists have been saying this all along, but the FDA has always denied it saying that it’s all left the chicken’s body by the time it is processed and sent to the stores for us to buy. This in only just one of the newest bits of news, though.
Eating a diet high in plant-based meals has a lot of benefits. Those who eat a plant-based diet have a less chance of developing:
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Some types of cancers
- High cholesterol
Eating a plant-based diet takes a little effort to ensure you are actually helping and not hindering your health. Some people who try to change their diet to plant-based actually start depriving their body of vital nutrients without even realizing it. So you need to understand this and know what kinds of foods to eat to ensure you get all the important vitamins and minerals that you need. Some of these include:
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B12
- Omega fatty acids
Protein is a biggie. You can get protein from nuts, soy, legumes and grains, but they aren’t the same as other proteins. You need both essential and non-essential amino acids to keep your body in-balance and healthy. Do regular blood panels and let your doctor know what you’re doing so you can make sure you’re getting everything you need. It’s not uncommon to use a supplement or two to keep a healthy balance when you’re eating a mostly plant-based diet.
If you have celiac disease or gluten intolerance, then you’ll need to be careful about the carbohydrates you consume. Many plant-based diets will include a lot more carbs than a normal diet, such as kamut, oats, rye, wheat and barley.
Choosing the Best Plant Based Foods
Fruits and veggies offer a variety of health benefits and can help prevent many serious health conditions. You should choose organic when possible. Choose non-starchy vegetables, as they offer the most condensed forms of vitamins you need. Organic veggies taste a hundred times better and give you over 30 percent more nutrients, too. Whole grains are of course natural and plant-based, but the downside is they don’t have nearly as many nutrients per serving.
Getting Enough Calcium
If you’re eating a plant-based diet, it’s important to put forth special effort in getting enough calcium. It’s recommended to get about 535 mg of calcium per day in order to promote good bone health. There are many ways you can do this. The first thing is to eat plenty of dark green leafy veggies, such as:
- Brussel sprouts
- Bok choy
- Swish chard
Some foods other than veggies that you can get calcium from are:
- Unsweetened rice drinks
- Calcium-fortified orange guice
- Calcium-fortified soy
- Sweet potatoes
- Sesame seeds
- Brazil nuts
You can also promote better bone health by getting vitamin K, potassium and magnesium. Try to include fresh herbs into your diet like sage, thyme and rosemary. Potassium can help prevent bone loss and vitamin K promotes the production of osteocalcin. For women, try to get plenty vitamin K from green leafy veggies. Women who eat plenty vitamin K are 45 percent less likely to suffer a hip fracture.
Vitamin B12 Supplements
Many plant-based diet eaters are at risk for a vitamin B12 deficiency, which can be very serious. Plants don’t have this vitamin and a deficiency can lead to memory loss, coordination loss, concentration problems, dementia or nerve dysfunction. If you’re concerned, ask your doctor. A simple blood test can be done to tell if you have a vitamin B12 deficiency and there are shots and supplements that can help.