The Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet
Right now, you can’t open a magazine or watch TV without seeing or hearing talk about healthy food, diets or the benefits of certain supplements. It’s getting very loud out there with opinions and suggestions of what is good for you and what isn’t.
In all this noise, there are however basic scientific data and studies that have proven beyond any doubt what types of food or diets are really good for you, based on how your body assimilates food and what your organs, bones and muscles actually need. And in a society that’s almost epidemic with diabetes, cancers and heart disease it is very important to know what to put into your body to keep it healthy.
We already know (see our earlier blog posts) that certain foods help prevent inflammation, and that inflammation is the start of any disease. And we also have become increasingly aware of the fact that cheeseburgers and fries are not good for you. It also goes without saying that eating vegetables, fruits and nuts are much better for your health.
So, before you get tired of all the well-intentioned advice on what to eat, let us give you some specifics on the different types of foods and what they do to your body.
A plant-based diet is what it says it is: plant-based. It focuses on foods primarily from plants. This includes not only fruits and vegetables, but also nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes, and beans. It doesn’t mean that you are vegetarian or vegan and never eat meat or dairy. Rather, you are proportionately choosing more of your foods from plant sources.
Plant-based food supports your immune system because plants provide essential nutrients that you can’t get from other foods. Plant foods work to resolve inflammation in your body because it contains nutrients and antioxidants that neutralize toxins from pollution, processed food, bacteria, viruses, etc. A plant-based diet also has been shown to reduce your risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some mental health illnesses.
Now, what about meat? Does this mean that you can’t eat beef or chicken? Well, here’s what the Harvard Medical School concluded: “[an] accumulated body of evidence shows a clear link between high intake of red and processed meats and a higher risk for heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and premature death.” The keyword here is “high” – an occasional steak is certainly not going to hurt your health.
But here’s the clincher: You don’t need to eat red or processed meat. Red meat has high amounts of protein, which helps promote muscle growth, and vitamin B12 to make red blood cells. A serving of red meat is also a good source of zinc, which can help the body produce testosterone and selenium, a powerful antioxidant. Plus, red meat is rich in iron. However, truth is you don’t need to eat red meat to get these essential nutrients. According to Harvard, “You can get the same amounts — and in some cases even more — from poultry, fish, eggs, and nuts, and as well as by following a plant-based diet.”
Still, even a plant-based meal will have to count on how you prepare it. This means deep-friend vegetables are out, as well as highly processed plant-food. Fresh is best! Sugar essentially comes from plants but simply isn’t good for you. Also, pasta, white bread and white rice may be plant-based but are too processed for the body to easily assimilate. Whole wheat products and brown rice are much better for your health.
Says Dr. Gashinsky, “We help our patients make the choices that are beneficial for their whole body health. This includes advising on diets and foods to preserve the mouth and body. Holistic dentistry is so much more than just “being a dentist.” As a holistic nutritionist I owe it to my patients to make sure that whatever our treatment plans, we always include nutritional and life-style advice to improve their overall well-being.”