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Benefits of a Whole-Food Plant-Based Diet

"Plant based" has become increasingly popular as of recently but it's important to note that just because something is plant based, doesn't mean that it's healthy, so let's start with understanding the difference between plant based and whole food, plant based (WFPB). Plant based simply means that the food is derived from plants as compared to animals, so plant based can include highly processed foods such as Beyond Burgers, Impossible Whoppers, Daiya cheese, French fries, cookies, and potato chips. And although plant based (and tasty!), these foods contain saturated fats, added sugars, high levels of sodium, as well as other unhealthy additives. Plant based can also include things like juices and oils, some of which are commonly thought to be healthy (e.g., orange juice and extra virgin olive oil); however, juice and oil are food fragments which means that part of the food is extracted from the whole and separated from its other nutrients. For example, juice is isolated sugar, leaving out the fiber from the whole fruit; and oil is isolated fat, leaving out the vitamins from the whole fruit.

So what is WFPB? Whole food, plant based includes only plants in their whole form (or minimally processed). This includes fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, whole grains such as whole wheat, brown rice, and quinoa, and legumes such as beans, nuts, and seeds. Tofu, tempeh, and some plant milks are also considered WFPB because they are minimally processed.

So what are the benefits of a whole-food, plant-based diet? First, most whole plant foods are low in calories, fat, and sodium and high in nutrients which gives you more bang for your buck. On a WFPB diet, you can maintain a healthy weight without feeling hungry and have energy to get you through the day. A WFPB diet has also been shown to prevent and reverse several chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease (CVD), Type 2 Diabetes, and cancer, among others.

Second, eating a variety of whole plant foods provides the optimum ratio of macronutrients (about 80% carbohydrates, 10% fat, and 10% protein). And contrary to popular belief, carbs are not bad for you, and you don't need a diet that's heavy in protein. In fact, our bodies thrive on carbohydrates, healthy carbs that is (from whole plant foods). And if you want to build muscle, it's not about eating a high-percent protein diet, it's about doing weight bearing exercises; you'll get plenty of protein if you are eating enough food.

Third, the nutrients provided by a plant-rich diet create a healthy gut microbiome which significantly impacts your overall health, including your intestinal track and mental wellness. In fact, many neurotransmitters responsible for mood are created in the gut. In addition, whole plant foods reduce inflammation which benefits the whole body!

In addition to all the health benefits of a WFPB diet, eating whole plant foods is one of the best things you can do for the planet. Animal agriculture is responsible for the majority of land use and deforestation as well as water use and pollution. Growing plants for food is highly sustainable and could provide food for more people globally compared to raising animals.

Finally, eating plants doesn't contribute to animal suffering. In order for people to enjoy meat, dairy, and eggs, animals have to suffer. For example, dairy cows are forceable impregnated (repeatedly), have their babies taken away, and are hooked up to machines (even while they are pregnant) that cause pain and wounds, reducing their life to about 5 years, whereas a cow's typical life is about 15-20 years. And when they no longer produce milk, they are taken to a slaughterhouse. Chickens are genetically bread to lay more eggs than normal which depletes their bones of calcium, weakening their bones, combined with selective breading to create larger breasts, their body weight typically can't be supported by their legs, and their bones often break. In addition, because male chicks can't lay eggs, they are of no use and are typically shredded alive in a meat grinder just after they hatch. Another way in which animals suffer is during transportation. Animals are often transported in extreme temperatures, such that many animals die in the heat due to no access to water and poor ventilation or freezing to the side or floor of the transport trailer.

In summary, a WFPB diet is healthy, sustainable, good for the environment, and reduces animal suffering. If you are interested in learning more or getting started, check out the resources below (or do some Google and Google Scholar searches!). And for additional support, email or request a consultation.

whole food plant based

RESOURCES (Research, Recipes, & Documentaries)

1 Comment

What a great, concise explanation of Whole Food Plant Based eating! Thanks.

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