The benefits of a Plant Based diet
You probably have heard about a bazillion different diets…
But the thing is, all these diets have shortcomings!
You can read more about how each specific diet fails, here.
However, in short,
Thus this allows for interpretation to potentially lead to nutritional imbalances, and most importantly most diets are not designed specifically for your unique physiology.
🌟Each person has their own specific needs for carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals.
This can even change within any given person -- age, activity, genetic predispositions, and stress all affect how effective a particular diet is at any given point in time!
🌟Each person has their own unique ability to digest any given food item and some people have precluding food allergies and food sensitivities that are at the root of their suboptimal digestion or chronic health condition.
But there is one type of food that without a doubt is critical for optimal health for all humans: vegetables!
Regardless of what one chooses to eliminate, vegetables have a undeniable benefits for all humans.
That’s why I am a big advocate of the plant based diet!
To have a plant based diet one does not need to be vegetarian or vegan. Plants merely need to be the main attraction of most every meal.
Generally speaking I would recommend that when you look at your plate, somewhere around 75% of the plate comes from vegetables, fruits, nuts/seeds, legumes.
The remaining portion of the plate may comprise of animal or vegetarian sources of protein (legumes nuts and seeds) and or grains (if these foods agree with your digestion).
Healthy fats should be contained within the foods on your plate, however if they are not, I recommend to drizzle some olive oil on those that are lacking endogenous healthy fats such as vegetables.
The benefits of a Plant based diet
1- Easy to follow (aka non restrictive & lots to choose from)
2- Rich in antioxidants (aka anti-aging)
Plant based foods are our sources of polyphenols, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
Polyphenols are micronutrients with antioxidant activity.
Antioxidants in these polyphenol rich foods such as vitamin A and C, help our immune system function optimally, and may help slow aging and even supports the prevention of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
You’re thinking, SIGN ME UP, AMIRITE!!!
So, how do these antioxidants work, you may be asking?
Well they inhibit oxidation... Picture that apple that turns brown after several hours of sitting out having been cut into quarters. That discoloration is oxidation.
This process is happening within us every day, from the day we are born, but don’t worry, it is slowed by eating a diet rich in plant based foods.
In order to assure you are getting enough antioxidants I suggest starting with eating fruits and vegetables at every meal and having a goal to eat each color of the rainbow daily.
3- Prebiotics in plant based foods aid in digestion (aka feed the good bacteria in our guts)
Another benefit of eating a diet full of plant based foods is that it contains prebiotic fiber for the microbiome.
The healthy bacteria living in our guts depend on the prebiotics from these foods to make more healthy bacteria.
This healthy bacteria produces a short chain fatty acid called butyrate. One of the functions of the butyrate is to stimulate electrolyte absorption. Electrolytes from our foods (such as sodium, calcium, potassium, chloride, phosphate) allows for proper fluid balance throughout the body including the intestine, thereby optimizing digestion, promoting regularity as well as easing symptoms of constipation and diarrhea.
Mechanically prebiotics also provide sweeping of the intestine. Their bulky fiber to the digestive system and can help with literally cleaning the intestine as it makes its way through the your intestinal lumen.
Here is a list of some of the plant based foods containing the highest amount of prebiotics:
4- Supports the Immune system (aka less, asthma, allergies, common colds, and even autoimmunity and chronic disease….)
When you eat plenty of veggies, your microbiome is balanced, and therefore your the immune system will function more optimally.
One way this happens is when the healthy bacteria in the colon “eat” the prebiotic fiber we have ingested and produces a substance called butyrate.
Butyrate is a short chain fatty acid that is known to aid in the modulation of the immune system and has anti-inflammatory effects. Butyrate is the preferred energy source for the epithelial (skin) cells of the colon which then contributes to the maintenance of the gut barrier function meaning it prevents leaky gut. A healthy intestinal epithelium prevents leakage of undigested food, unhealthy bacteria, viruses and toxins into the bloodstream.
Butyrate also stimulates the immune system to replicate peripheral T- regulatory cells. T regulatory cells play a vital role in maintaining homeostasis by identifying your own cells from that of a foreign invader, antigen. Think of the TSA agents, someone to check if you have the right documents to enter the terminal and then verify you’re not packing anything dangerous on the flight when you go through the metal detector. This is the function of the T-regulatory cell inside your body sorting friend (normal T-cell) from foe (auto-reactive T-cell).
When there is adequate fiber in the diet there are more healthy gut microbes, this leads to more butyrate, and thereby improved T- regulatory cells production and function keeping you from falling ill from a common cold, developing allergies both food and environmental, as well as preventing autoimmunity and even cancer.
A few words of precaution:
Prebiotics ferment in the gut, and are not discriminatory of who can “eat” them. Meaning if you have an imbalanced microbiome, aka dysbiosis or overgrowth of bacteria such as SIBO, small intestine bacterial overgrowth, or an infection such as klebsiella bacteria, eating foods that are rich in prebiotic fiber can cause significant discomfort.
Should eating foods with high quantities of fiber cause gas, bloating, pain, diarrhea or constipation, further evaluation is advised.
Are you considering a plant based diet??
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