Five Benefits of a Plant-Based Meal
Plant-based, vegan, vegetarian, and meatless diets have been in social media and the public eye for some time now. It’s easy to glaze over these words, memes, and labels without a second thought because we’ve become so saturated by them. Whether the trend led your home to full veganism or meatless Mondays, you’ve done something amazing for your body at a cellular level. If you haven’t been swayed by the colorful images of sweet fruits and crispy veggies or the witty marketing of popular plant-based products, you may be someone who wants solid facts and a well defined argument before giving up your juicy burger or crunchy bacon. So let’s dive into five scientifically proven benefits that your body experiences when choosing to pass on animal foods.
#1 How Plant Foods Affect Insulin Levels
If you’re not diabetic, you may never think about your insulin levels; however, insulin regulates blood glucose levels. High blood glucose levels cause a myriad of other health conditions stemming from inflammation. You want your insulin to be highly efficient at its job: moving glucose to your cells for energy or storage. We want our glucose to be used for energy to avoid weight gain.
In comes the benefits of plant-based foods, fiber! Fiber slows the absorption of glucose into the blood. This means you have more time for your carbs to give you energy before they are assimilated into storage and later fat on the body.
By slowing down the insulin, this means your body maintains a more regular blood sugar level which in turn helps to lower overall inflammation, and it can even work to prevent type 2 diabetes. Hana Kahleova, M.D., Ph.D., director of clinical research for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine said, “Within a few days of starting a whole-food, plant-based diet, you may be able to significantly reduce your insulin dose or medication.”(1)
Benefits of a plant-based meal can impact your system within the first hour of eating! That’s some pretty rapid results.
#2 Digestion, Elimination, and Cancer
It’s been said that fiber is the scrub brush of the digestive system. Fiber helps with elimination no matter what side of the spectrum you generally find yourself. It helps the body with better frequency and ease, and this in turn protects against hemorrhoids and can also reduce the chances of colorectal cancer.(2)
A good amount of fruits and vegetables also help ease digestion as they contain high amounts of water which help to flush the system and soften bowel movements. The hydration is also great for the body in many other areas.
Plant foods also support a healthy and varied gut microbiome, the 30+ trillion bacteria and microorganisms that coexist within your body. A healthy gut biome is essential to overall health and disease prevention. Your gut is the center of your immune system, so you want to keep it as protected as possible. Plant foods and high fiber work to protect your body from heartburn to Crohn’s disease.
#3 Two Major Players in Heart Attacks: Cholesterol and Blood Pressure
Around 655,000 people in the United States die of heart disease every year. That’s one out of four deaths, or one person every 36 seconds. 805,000 people have heart attacks every year and the majority of these attacks are not their first heart attack!(3) These numbers are way too high to ignore and should have us all feeling the urge to do something to protect ourselves.
A plant-based diet does some major work on protecting the heart and preventing heart disease. First, plants do not have any cholesterol! Second, outside of a few oils and coconut, plant based eating has incredibly low saturated fat.
If you want more science, watch the documentary Game Changers, available on Netflix. You can literally see the direct benefits plants have on the blood as they take samples from athletes after meals with meat and meals without. They show the impact on endothelial function and blood flow.
A plant-based diet can lower cholesterol and blood pressure within a week! This is better than many pharmaceuticals! However, you should always consult your doctor and never stop taking medications without medical observation. You can reduce symptoms of angina and dramatically if not completely eliminate chest pains. Within three weeks of eating only healthy, plant foods, your body can even reverse many preliminary risks of heart disease.
#4 Arthritis to Fatigue, Movement and Energy Effects
Without going too deep, animal foods contain inflammatory molecules like Neu5Gc, heme iron, and endotoxins. These animal foods change the gut biome and increase the bacteria that promote inflammation and Trimethylamine N -oxide or TMAOs. By reducing inflammation and swelling, the body can find relief and even recovery from rheumatoid arthritis, physical chronic pain, swelling, and even stiffness.
Other studies have shown that vegetarianism and veganism have been linked to higher energy levels and more sustained energy and focus throughout the day. This is in large part due to the higher nutrient value in your food and the great variety of vitamins and minerals.
#5 Healthy for the Whole Family
If you’re wondering about plant-based diets for your kids, research shows that they too will receive wonderful healthy benefits. It’s a fantastic way to get even the most choosy of eaters to get a higher quantity of fruits and veggies into their diet. This alone is a big win! Studies show that children from the age of two to eighteen need 1-2 ½ cups of vegetables and 1-2 cups of fruits every single day within their recommended daily calories. A plant-based diet helps to ensure they reach these base levels.
If you’re concerned about protein for their growth and overall health, be sure to add in healthy high protein snacks like nuts, seeds, dried legumes, and of course some Nacho Cheese Stix! The standard recommendation for protein is one gram for every kilo of weight. So if your child is 40 pounds, they need around 18 grams of protein. Choosing a variety of healthy plant foods with high quantities of vitamins and minerals will meet those needs easily.
As they grow, you can add more protein options like tofu, seitan, jackfruit, and protein shakes if needed.
For your children and yourself, be aware that a fully vegan and some vegetarian diets can run low on B-12, so you may consider taking a supplement. It is also wise to be aware of which plants contain adequate amounts of iron and vitamin D. While you can get what your body needs, it is important to keep a good variety of plant foods in your diet to cover all the bases. If you are not fully vegan, eggs and dairy balance out the nutrient profile well for growing kids and even adults who aren’t into a wide array of different plant foods.
We can’t find any reason not to make plant-based meals a regular part of any household. If you are worried about snacks, protein, or your skills in the kitchen, we have you covered! For the ultimate plant-based snack grab a bag of puffs or stix from our variety packs. Protein is the key in all of our products from your morning cereal, to your afternoon grab bag of granola.