What is a plant based diet?
Plant-based diets focus on foods primarily from plants. This includes not only fruits and vegetables, but also nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes, and beans. It doesn’t mean that you are vegetarian or vegan and never eat meat or dairy. Rather, you are proportionately choosing more of your foods from plant sources.
I refer to myself as a vegetarian as I still eat dairy products.
The main thing to remember here is that plant-based diet focused on healthy plant foods that are not processed. Eating cookies instead of a steak – that’s not really what we’re going for here.
Why go plant based?
- It supports your immune health – plants have essential nutrients that you can’t get from other foods. A lot of people take supplements to increase their intake of certain nutrients, but by simply increasing your intake of plant-based foods, you’ll notice a big difference in your immune health.
- Plant based foods can reduce inflammation – “Inflammation is basically an immune response to any kind of threat that your body sees, like bacteria, toxins or allergens,” says Lindsey Wohlford, a wellness dietitian at MD Anderson. “Sometimes, food is the threatening agent that causes your body to react with inflammation.”(1) Prolonged inflammation can damage your body’s cells and tissue and has been linked to cancer and other inflammatory diseases like arthritis. A plant-based diet may protect you because it removes some of the triggers to these diseases.
- A plant based diet is great for maintaining a healthy weight – Excess weight causes inflammation and hormonal imbalances. It’s unfortunate but the more overweight you are the higher the likelihood of illnesses such as diabetes. By sticking to pre-dominantly plant based foods and removing processed foods with lots of sugar, you’ll help your body to maintain a healthier weight.
- Plants are high in fibre – a high fibre diet has always been linked to good bowel movements. Fibre is present in all unprocessed plant based foods as it makes up the structure of the plant. Not only will it help improve the function of your bowel but also your gut health too so you can absorb nutrients more effectively.
- Plant-based diets are good for the environment – you’re not contributing to over farming and over fishing which draining on environmental resources. Have a read of this article by the BBC to learn more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-49238749
Obviously, to get the best out of a plant-based diet, you need to continue to remove excessively bad foods such as ‘junk food’. High sugar diets are not good for anyone and opting to choose plant based foods will mean that you’re helping your body to do the best that it can.
It’s also important to think about how you are cooking the food too. Deep frying vegetables is not going to help anyone.
I highly recommend watching the below and you’ll find out how a plant based diet can change your life.
What foods to eat? – the more colourful the better!
Firstly, I think it’s important to say that you need to avoid processed and high sugar foods as standard practice. Having them as a treat is fine but they should not be the norm in your diet.
Try to ensure that you’re eating lots of what you see in this picture below!!
Fruits such as berries, avocados, apples, grapes, melons, bananas and citrus fruits such as oranges.
Vegetables such as kale, beetroot, tomatoes, courgettes, broccoli, carrots, tomatoes and peppers. When it comes to vegetables, the more colourful the better!
Root vegetables such as parsnips, sweet potato and butternut squash are a great option too.
Seeds, nuts and legumes are really great too. I am a big fan of almonds, cashews and pecan nuts. Chia seeds are staple in my diet and I love pine nuts. I highly recommend experimenting and finding out what you like the best.
I’d also focus on plant based milks as well such as soy, coconut or almond. I wrote a post about plant-based alternatives to cow’s milk if you want to find out more about the differences between the milk options available.