5 Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet

While there are a couple of competing definitions of a plant-based diet, it doesn’t have to mean strict veganism or even vegetarianism. What it does entail is that your diet is based on plants—fruits and vegetables. While seeds like wheat, oats, and rice are certainly not off-limits, they are de-emphasized mainly due to industrialized processing methods that strip most of the nutrients from them. It does mean strictly curtailing or eliminating many animal products from the diet, such as butter, cheese or milk and many sources of animal protein. Whether you opt for a vegetarian option or pare down your consumption of animal proteins and fats, there are some extraordinary benefits.

1. Reduced Hyperglycemia

It’s estimated that millions of Americans live with Type 2 Diabetes, an insulin intolerant disorder. Those who hover on the brink of this glucose instability swell those figures further. However, while there are some diets purportedly tailored to reduce extreme fluctuations in postprandial and fasting glucose measures, their approaches may be incomplete. Using a plant-based diet, rich in fiber and complex carbohydrates, researchers believe they may have at least one answer to this health epidemic. The key is not a hyper-focus on serum glucose, which typifies high protein regimens. Rather, vegetarian or diets with limited animal protein also address the lipid profile.

2. A Healthy Weight

While there are dietary approaches that use plant-based and vegetarian plans for weight gain or weight maintenance, losing weight is also possible. While you may include some animal proteins, the emphasis is on plant proteins, and this has verified results, whatever your goal. The key is a high fiber compliment, along with primarily complex carbohydrates sourced from vegetables, fruits, and whole cereal grains. Plant proteins, such as those found in soy, flax, amaranth, chenopods, and chia permit the body to build healthy tissues and use energy stored in the form of fat. Its anti-inflammatory benefits also help to reduce water retention and the production of toxins or wastes as a result of joint or tissue swelling and damage.

3. Lower Cholesterol and a Better Lipid Profile

While consumed cholesterol is different from blood serum cholesterols, there does seem to be some correlation between these two. LDL or “bad” cholesterol is a sign of inflammation somewhere in the body. What researchers have finally conclusively proven is that a diet high in fiber and complex carbohydrates, with reduced or eliminated animal proteins and fats leads to better lipid counts. While it isn’t the answer for everyone, it can help individuals with diseases and disorders that portend inflammation and lower serum cholesterol substantially.

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4. Clearer Skin

Your skin is your body’s largest organ. It serves as a shield, protecting you from the elements. However, it’s also part of our natural filtration system, through which we rid our bodies of excess salts and unwanted byproducts. The Standard American Diet contributes to a sort of dermal constipation, reducing the effectiveness of this waste disposal. What research has shown is that plant-based approaches provide a higher level of dietary fiber, soluble and insoluble, improving our blood serum lipid profile. They also offer a far better nutrient profile, with Omega-3 and -6 amino acids, ALA, and other essential fatty acids by which our bodies maintain themselves. Clearer skin is often an unintended benefit.

5. Reduced Blood Pressure

Hypertension is endemic among Americans, but much of this is the result of our diets. Research designed to address an adverse lipid profile also produced startling benefits of healthy weight balance, reduced incidence of inflammatory diseases, and even better skin. Because it aids in the healthy maintenance of circulatory systems, the plant-based approach also tends to lower hypertension in adults.

There are many benefits to eating a healthier array of foods and getting sufficient physical activity. While some may elect to eschew animal proteins on moral or philosophical grounds, the empirical data suggests that better health is a direct consequence of eating more fruits and vegetables. All the benefits described are interrelated, bound to a reduction of saturated fats, muscle proteins, and dairy. By replacing much of the Standard American Diet (SAD) with fresh, leafy greens and fruits and whole cereals, the plant-based diet poses solutions to much of what ails our culture.