As a health coach I focus on ‘bio-individuality’ – not one size fits all, however, I am a huge advocate for a whole food, plant-based diet (WFPB).
Why do I choose to eat this way you may ask?! Well, if you look at ANY diet, they all say, eat more plants –fruits and vegetables, right!? For more on my WFPB journey check out my blog post here and here.
Since writing these posts I have now transitioned fully to a WFPB diet, and because my body is getting all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals I need, I no longer crave animal products.
And why the term WFPB?! Well it is more of a personal preference for me, as the term ‘vegan’ can conjure up a few negative connotations as a vegan diet can be full of processed foods, and not so much wholefood goodness. This is why we can see quite unhealthy ‘vegans’ or ‘vegetarians’. It’s about a healthy lifestyle choice.
So, for today, here are my top 5 reasons why a whole food plant-based diet is beneficial:
a. Reduced heart disease risk: WFPB diets are naturally low in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol, which have shown to reduce heart disease risk. This is due to the reduced amount of animal by-products such as meat, dairy and eggs, and an increase in fiber, phytonutrients and antioxidants.
b. Decreased inflammation in muscles, joints and the respiratory system: Animal by products, due to their highly acidic properties can lead to inflammation in the body, such as arthritis and asthma. Dairy especially has an inflammatory impact on our respiratory system and creates more mucous and phlegm.
c. Weight Loss: Due to the decreased intake of animal fats and dairy products and more of a lean towards fruits, vegetables and whole grains, most people on a WFPB diet feel much lighter. This is also because their body is getting all the nutrients and minerals it needs, from more nutrient dense foods, without the added calories, instead of nutrient void foods that we often eat, such as processed foods, meats and dairy. So as a by-product we are weighing less… Those of you familiar with my coaching, know I focus on healthy living, not weight. It just happens naturally. So, scales be gone!
d. Hormones: Meat and dairy products often contain excess hormones, antibiotics, steroids and pesticides. Dairy raises insulin in the body, which causes blood sugar swings and in turn hormone imbalances. Dairy milk also contains a high amount of oestrogen which impacts on a woman’s cycle and can lead to increased PMS symptoms, acne, difficulty ovulation, and therefore conceiving.
e. Gut health: Antibiotics (when administered through meat and dairy products or when we are sick) target the bad bacteria in our gut, but also destroy the good bacteria, contributing to ‘leaky gut’, which leads to skin irritation and conditions, allergies, depression, auto immune diseases and thrush. It can take anywhere from six to eighteen months for the good bacteria to be restored through use of fermented foods.
2. Increased athletic performance:
Plant based protein absorbs 80-90%, with animal protein absorbing only 20-30%. While most active individuals focus on protein intake, they should be advised that, when done right, a high-carbohydrate, low-fat (by low fat we mean reduced intake of oil, meat and dairy, not low-fat forms of these), and vitamin and mineral-rich WFPB diet may be optimal for sports performance. While there are conflicting studies around, the number of world class WFPB athletes continues to increase.
3. Decreased toxicity:
Foodborne illnesses, antibiotics, bacteria, parasites, and chemical toxins are more common in commercial meat, seafood and dairy when compared with plant foods (especially organic fruits and vegetables).
4. Cost effective:
A WFPB diet is easy to grow yourself. Plant foods tend to be less expensive, except for a few super foods, saving on overall costs.
5. Good for the environment:
While this was not something that was front of mind for me, through my years of research I am seeing more and more the impacts on our world. Greenhouse gas emissions for animal-based versus plant-based foods is 1:250! And twenty servings of vegetables actually have less greenhouse gas emissions than one serve of beef!
So what do you do from here? Experiment. When I was first encouraged to try a WFPB diet I turned my nose up at it, but I challenge you… Give it a go for 21 days, and let me know how you go.
My biggest challenges were cheese and eggs, however, there are plenty of WFPB options, that taste delicious and Google is your friend. I also have a stack of WFPB recipes here. You can also find my chia eggs recipe here.