A whole foods, plant-based lifestyle involves eating foods in their whole form, with as minimal processing as possible. This includes vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes; animal products—namely meat, dairy and eggs—are not included. This approach to eating is based on the vast amount of scientific data and research emerging that is demonstrating the health-promoting, disease-reversing effects a plant-based diet and lifestyle can have on an individual. Since the popularization of the Western diet (a.k.a. the Standard American Diet (SAD)), disease rates have skyrocketed in developed countries, ranging from the obesity epidemic, the surge in diabetes and cancer rates, and the increase in mental illness (to name a few). Research is repeatedly demonstrating that most, if not all, of these common ailments and diseases can somehow be influenced or almost entirely contributed by one’s diet. It is becoming more imperative than ever to adopt changes to our diet and lifestyle that are outside of the influence of big industry and are instead fueled by unbiased, evidence-based research.
The impact our nutrition plays in every aspect of our health is undeniable, from the appearance of our skin to the efficiency in which our organs and body systems operate on a second-to-second basis. Furthermore, the role our Western diet lifestyle has played in impacting our planet has significantly contributed to the calamities associated with climate change that we are all experiencing worldwide—such as an increase in global temperatures, ocean dead zones, deforestation, pollution and the mass extinction of various species. In layman’s terms, how we are eating is making us and our planet sick. As more people begin to make this link, the search for alternatives in which they can sustainably utilize the earth’s resources without compromising their own well-being becomes more important. This is possible when you adopt a plant-based lifestyle. Not only is the evidence showing this is beneficial for our own health, but it is also demonstrating the positive impacts this is having on our planet’s health as well.
A whole foods, plant-based diet, when practiced in a balanced way, can provide (but is not limited to) the following benefits:
- Higher quality and density of nutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals)
- Increased energy levels
- Improved digestive efficiency
- Increase in mental clarity
- Improvement in mood and a reduction in mood swings
- Decreased recovery time post-exercise
- Regularity of bowel function
- Improved cardiovascular health
- Decrease in inflammatory conditions and flare-ups
- Decrease in autoimmune-related symptoms
- Regulation and maintenance of blood sugar levels
- Improved appearance and health of skin
- Improved sense of taste