With so much diet-related research out there (and so much information in general!), it’s tough to get a full picture of how plant-based eating can change your life.
But when you look at the studies as a whole, healthy plant-based eating turns out to support nearly every part of your health — plus the planet!
We know you’re busy, so we put together seven of the most positive things that happen when you eat plants.
Scan the headlines online, at the grocery store, in waiting room magazines. What’s everywhere?
News about food, diet, and health. So much news, so many studies, so many stories — it’s legitimately hard to get a clear understanding of how a plant-based diet, or any diet, will affect you. It’s like flying blind, right?
The thing is, it helps to have that big picture. When you do, you start to see how much evidence-based potential there is for health via plant-based eating. And not just for you, but the planet, too.
We took some time to put together seven of the biggest impacts your plant-based eating will have. This is science at its most personal, and its most hopeful!
Specifically, plant-based eating changes how your genes work.
Our genes have a lot of potential modes. It’s kind of like how you can make your phone alarm play many different sounds.
What we eat makes our genes scroll through its options and land on, say, a “chime” that repairs damage to our DNA poorly. Or a “barking dog” that makes repairs happen faster or better.
Research shows that whole plant-based diets can help make genes turn on their “good repair” mode.
In some studies, eating whole plants has kept cancer genes from turning on.
Yet another student showed that plant-based eating helps keep DNA stable. (By lengthening telomeres, which is something your phone can’t do… yet). This may help slow aging.
Not quite as easy as sliding on a new pair of pants, but a lot more powerful.
The U.S. has a passionate love affair with animal protein.
And most folks eat way too much. As in, up to 1.5 times what research shows we actually need!
This is hard on our bodies. We take that extra protein and we turn it into fat and waste — and disease. Eating animal protein has been connected to a whole tote bag of diseases, including diabetes and cancer.
Whole food plants contain protein. Yes, you read that right. Spinach, nuts, beans, kale, lentils all have significant amounts of protein, just to name a few.
The research is very clear. As long as you’re eating a whole food plant-based diet (and not a junk food vegan diet) you will be fine.
Remember how animal protein has been shown to increase the risk of disease? Type-2 diabetes is one of the biggest risks.
The other side of the coin? Plant-based diets have been shown to improve or reverse diabetes. Whole grains themselves can help protect diabetes from occurring.
(And carbohydrates get such a bad rap! But whole-food carbs are powerful health allies.)
There are 39 trillion microorganisms living in and on each of our bodies. All together, they’re called the microbiome.
These bacteria literally help us live our lives. They help us digest food, produce nutrients, support immune function, affect our mood, and impact how genes turn on and off… and much, much more.
The microbiome in the gut are largely influenced by the foods we eat. Now listen to this. With diet, we can change it almost entirely in four days. Four days!
A healthy plant-based diet includes good stuff, like fiber, that the gut biome loves.
Add in more water and less sugar, and you’ve got a microbiome that’s in your corner — helping your immune system, your mood, and your digestion. And much, much more!
“Inflammation” is such a buzzword these days, we can forget to talk about what it really means.
Put simply, inflammation is your body’s way of signaling harm. It’s like a road flare. When your immune system sees a “flare,” it sends white blood cells to fight off what’s wrong.
The problem? White blood cells are not subtle. If they see the markers of inflammation, they attack — even if the tissues are healthy!
So if your body creates inflammation markers a lot, even if you’re not hurt or sick, your white blood cells are beating up your own healthy tissue. A lot.
No surprise, many animal foods (including red meats, dairy products, and saturated fats) increase inflammation in the human body, even where the tissues are healthy.
But plant-based eating reduces the “flares.” These foods are high in fiber, antioxidants, and other phytonutrients. They also have much lower levels of substances that trigger inflammation, such as saturated fats.
In other words, plant-based eating helps you stop beating up on yourself!
What’s the big deal about cholesterol? Well, if you have too much in your blood, you are at much greater risk of heart disease and stroke.
Where does most of that cholesterol come from? Largely, saturated fat, found in meat, poultry, and cheese.
Three guesses for how to drop your blood cholesterol levels? You got it: eating plants!
Plant-based foods have very little saturated fat and zero cholesterol. Plus, they have a lot of fiber.
Talk about power. When you eat a plant-based diet, you can decrease your blood cholesterol levels by up to 35 percent. That’s a love letter to your heart.
Social psychology research shows that connection to meaning and purpose is a major factor in health and long living.
Plant-based eating connects our daily, personal decisions to a really enormous purpose. As in, the health of the planet.
Animal agriculture is tough on our earth. Why? It’s the largest contributor to the emissions responsible for catastrophic climate change.
It uses up massive amounts of land and water. It destroys wildlife and speeds up species extinctions.
Plant agriculture turns around all these problems. Lower carbon footprint? Yes. Water and land conservation? You got it, and more.
When you look at the research on plant-based eating as a whole, you see that plant-based eating is a true ally in health and healing. And we can all use more pals!
With a plant-based diet:
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Your nutrition questions answered.