In the last decade, many new diets have emerged, bringing with them either praise or controversies. In any case, there have been debates among the netizens about what kind of diet is the best. Many health experts argue that diets can be harmful to your physical health as it makes you restrict food intake, however, the other half stands firm about the benefits of diets.
I’ll not be arguing for or against diets but in this blog, I’ll be discussing the benefits of whole food plant-based diets or in simple words, a vegan lifestyle or diet.
I’ve heard and even met people who claim themselves as vegan and swear by its many health benefits. So as curiosity got hold of me, I thought to explore more about veganism or vegan based diet. A vegan diet or whole-food plant-based diet focuses on minimally processed foods and can promote weight loss and even improve health.
Let’s take a deeper look into what a whole food plant-based diet is, the benefits that this diet brings to your physical and mental health, and how you can transition to a vegan lifestyle.
What is a Whole Food Plant-Based Diet (WFPB)?
If we talk about what is a whole food plant-based diet, then let’s be clear on one thing. It is more of a lifestyle choice than a diet. Plant-based diets can be complicated as they depend on how much you include meat or animal-based products in your diet.
In any case, a whole food plant-based diet is about minimally processed foods, avoiding meat, focusing on vegetables, fruits, legumes, seeds, and whole grains, excluding refined foods, sugar, and processed oils, and putting more emphasis on organic foods as much as possible.
Did you know that many people these days are switching to a vegan diet? So much so that there’s a new challenge dubbed “Veganuary”?
Going vegan means trying a plant-based diet. This brings us to the WFPB diet that focuses on consuming vegetables, and whole grains, and keeping the consumption of processed foods minimal.
Health experts believe that going vegan and following a WFPB diet can have many health benefits. So, let’s take a look at these health benefits, shall we?
Health Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet
1.Good For The Heart
One of the leading causes of death in the world is cardiovascular disease. One of the best ways to reduce the risk of heart disease is to adopt a whole food plant-based diet. The best part about a WFPB diet is that it is low in saturated fats and cholesterol. Plant-based diets are rich in plant stanols that can help lower cholesterol, subsequently lowering the risk of heart disease.
In a recent study, it was revealed that a plant-based diet reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by 40%, coronary heart disease by 40%, and hypertension by 34%.
2.Better Immune System
As we still recover from the 2020 pandemic, many of us still battle with a lower immune system. To protect yourself from infections and immunity-related conditions, a plant-based diet is one way. In a 2021 study, it was found that the WFPB diet was associated with a 73% decrease in moderate to severe infection from COVID.
Plant-based diets are rich in nutrients that our body constantly needs such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and more that can help boost our immune system.
Carbs such as beans, legumes, sweet potatoes, and fruit keep your blood sugar levels balanced, which in turn, can help you stay energetic instead of lethargic. Plant-based foods do not have the saturated fats that other meat-based products usually contain. These saturated fats can slow you down.
When you consume a diet that’s rich in plant-based foods, your blood remains less greasy and more watery which can increase oxygen in the body tissues, boosting energy.
4.Improves Gut Health
Plant-based foods contain dietary fiber which is one of the most important components of our digestion. This is what feeds the bacteria in our guts. The microbes that are found mostly in plant-based diets help our bodies absorb nutrients and are important for our immune system.
The lack of dietary fiber can harm our gut microbes. And an unhappy gut means an unhappy you! So adopting a plant-based diet can help you improve your gut health which can then help prevent depression and immune dysfunction.
The best part of this WFPB Diet is that you don’t need to starve yourself to lose those extra pounds! Whole grains, vegetables, and fruits are low in calories so you can reduce that stubborn weight without starving yourself. Plus, a plant-based diet can keep you full thanks to the water levels in them.
Compared to meat-based diets, WFPB dieters have a higher metabolism rate too which means that they are likely to burn more calories during rest as body heat than store as body fat.
Another health threat that many of us are facing is the risk of Type 2 diabetes. The International Diabetes Foundation estimates that more than 500 million are currently living with type 2 diabetes and this figure is likely to grow by 10% by 2030, if not more or sooner. Adapting to a plant-based diet can help prevent diabetes and reduce this number significantly.
WFPB diet includes a lot of legumes, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and little to no intake of processed foods or sugar which can be great for preventing and reducing the effects of diabetes, especially Type 2 diabetes in adults.
How to Get Started With a Plant-Based Diet?
If you’re impressed with the many benefits of whole food plant-based diets, then here are some ways you can easily transition to a vegan lifestyle;
1.Add Lots Of Whole Plant Foods to Your Diet
To get started on the transition to a WFPB diet, the first thing you need to do is add lots of whole foods and plant-based foods to your diet. You can start with the Rainbow diet if you want to. It’ll not only help you add plant-based foods but also add colors to a boring plate!
2.Use Meat or Dairy Alternatives
If you’ve been living on a meat-based diet, then you may find the transition to a vegan diet quite challenging. If you crave meat, then try to look for alternatives. You can look for soya, tofu, or vegan beef patties to add to your diet. Did you know that there are “chicken strips” made with plant-based proteins that you can add to your WFPB diet?
3.Don’t Lose Sight of Proteins
When you’re transitioning to a WFPB diet, it can be easy to lose sight of proteins, but it’s important to keep at least one good serving of protein or plant-based fat on your plate. Here’s what you can do; You can add a spoonful of walnuts or pumpkin seeds to your veggie salad or you can add protein such as tofu to one of your meals. If you want a little more taste, then look to add peanut butter to your breakfast meal.
4.Seek Natural Food Supplements
Getting everything your body needs can be quite difficult when you’re following a diet or lifestyle. Try to seek the nutrients you might be missing out on through natural supplements. Keep in mind to consult with a professional or your dietician before taking any supplements. Take natural supplements only when you feel like you’re lacking the nutrients in your daily meals.
5.Talk to an Expert
Whether you consult cookbooks, blogs, influencers, or dieticians, make sure you talk to an expert when you feel stuck or unsure about the WFPB diet. There are lots of recipes and tips that you can find online that can help you easily transition to Veganuary this year. Embrace this trend but don’t forget that you have experts available to help anytime you need it.
6.Lastly, Don’t Feel Discouraged
There will be times when you’ll falter and eat something that does not align with your plant-based diet. When that happens, remember to not feel discouraged. You’re transitioning to a new diet and mistakes might happen, but that does not mean that you failed. Just keep a note of what you eat and how you eat it.
Add to your shopping list!
Fruits: Citrus fruits, pineapple, bananas, and peaches
Veggies: Kale, spinach, cauliflower, peppers, carrots, and tomatoes
Starchy Veggies: Sweet potatoes, potatoes, and butternut squash
Whole Grains: Brown rice, quinoa, barley, pasta, and oats
Legumes: Peas, peanuts, black beans, and chickpeas
Seeds and Nuts: Almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, peanut butter, and macadamia nuts
Plant-Based Milk: Coconut milk, almond milk, and soy milk
Herbs: Rosemary, Turmeric, Black pepper, and Salt
Plant-Based Proteins: Tofu and Tempeh
Foods to avoid!
Fast Foods: French fries, burgers, hot dogs, chicken, and pizza
Sugars: Soda, juice, cookies, candies, sweet beverages, and sweetened cereals
Refined Grains: White rice, white bread, and bagels
Packaged Food: Chips, cereal bars, and frozen foods
Processed Meat: Bacon, sausage, and beef
The WFPB or Whole Food Plant-Based Diet is more of a lifestyle than a diet plan where you focus on consuming whole grains, vegetables, and fruits instead of processed foods, sugar, and meat. With its many benefits, the plant-based diet is one of the best diets to follow. Not only can it reduce your risk of heart disease but can also prevent diabetes, weight gain, and cognitive decline.
I hope this blog will help you understand the benefits of a plant-based diet and how you can easily transition to a vegan lifestyle. For more, you can connect with a dietician or speak to a nutritionist.
You can also share your thoughts with us in the comments section below or write to us at email@example.com.
Take Care and Stay Healthy!