Is a Plant Based Diet for You?

HealthLink: News You Can Use

January 3, 2020

Is a Plant Based Diet for You?

You want to eat better, make less of an environmental footprint, maybe even lose some weight. Article after article suggests you try a plant-based diet, citing major health benefits. And they are major. For starters, a primarily plant-based diet is the only eating plan that not only prevents, but can actually reverse advanced-stage cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. It also lowers the risk of certain cancers, assists with the prevention and treatment of hypertension, lower cholesterol and makes weight management easier. All of these factors can contribute to a longer, healthier life. It’s a big incentive to make a switch.

But figuring out exactly what “plant-based” means can be challenging. Will you have to ban all animal protein forever? Does plant-based mean vegan? Not necessarily. A whole-food, plant-based diet is more of a lifestyle choice than an actual diet. “Plant-based” is a broad term that includes a wide spectrum of eaters, including omnivores, who eat primarily plants with some animal products, vegans, who refrain from consuming any animals or animal products, as well as vegetarians, who also don’t eat meat but include eggs and dairy in their diets. Within this category are also fruitarians, raw vegans, ovo-lacto vegetarians, pescatarians and anyone following a macrobiotic diet. That is to say, a plant-based diet is flexible – FYI, you can also become a flexitarian - and can vary greatly depending on your comfort level.

David Rambo, Founder and CEO of Simplex Health, a functional medicine nutrition therapy practice, recommends a combined approach. “The goal is to recalibrate what you eat by focusing primarily on plant-based options and including and the appropriate amount of sustainability sourced high-quality animal products. Most of your plate should be plant-based with a small amount of animal protein. You should think of animal products as a condiment, meaning, it is a nice addition but not the focus on the dish.”

The basic principles of a healthy diet are:

  • Eating primarily vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, seeds and nuts.
  • Choose grass-fed, pasture-raised organic meats and consume it like a side dish or a condiment.
  • Cutting out refined foods, such as added sugars, white flour and processed oils.
  • Focusing on whole, minimally processed foods, preferably locally sourced/organic products.

As with any lifestyle change, start slowly rather than going cold turkey. Pick a few plant-based meals to try. Add a large portion of salad or some healthy fats to your daily meals. Gradually work on reducing animal-based ingredients and increase your consumption of plant-based options. Read labels – processed food can contain many mystery ingredients – and eventually, stop buying foods that have labels.

Once you start feeling better and more energetic, it will be easier to continue. Remember, any transition takes time. Find out what works and what doesn’t as you find your own rhythm, and be gentle with yourself as you enter the wonderful world of plant-based foods.

If you are looking to live a healthier lifestyle, changing your diet is a good place to start. You may want to consider working with a nutrition specialist. Holy Redeemer has partnered with Simplex Health, a company that provides medically supervised nutrition therapy. You can meet with a licensed dietitian and together you can develop a plan that will work for you. To learn more visit simplexhealth.com or call 877.842.2425.

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Comments:

Monday, January 20, 2020 by Marc Candidi
Anyone reading this Healthlink article should consider a plant based diet as it's health benefits have been documented in reducing heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc -all rampant in today's American lifestyle. There is a good documentary on Netflix titled "Game Changer" showing many scientific benefits combined with increased athletic performance based on plant-based consumption. This show really made an impact on me and I have already begun the process of slowly weening off animal based proteins. It's not easy but in the end I expect the benefits to be worthwhile. Good Luck to All in this endeavor.

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