10 Incredible Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet
Could we possibly be more thankful for plants? From oxygen to food – plants play an indispensable role in our survival, which we often overlook. In an era where humanity is struggling with diseases, the benefits of plant-based diets are gaining greater attention.
Unless you live in extreme weather conditions such as the Arctic, your daily diet must have many ingredients coming from plants. How does a plant-based diet differ from what you might already be eating?
A plant-based diet essentially means a diet entirely dependent on plant products. This diet is devoid of animal-based products such as meat, dairy, seafood, cheese, etc.
The most popular term for such a dietary habit is veganism. As opposed to a vegetarian diet where you don’t eat animals, a vegan diet shuns all kinds of animal products. However, a plant-based diet is much more than that.
The primary purpose of a plant-based diet is to achieve maximum health benefits through the whole, unprocessed nutrition – what is also known as the Whole Food Plant-Based or WFPB diet.
Many variations of the WFPB diet exist, such as a Whole Food Plant-Based No Oil (WFPBNO) diet and a High Carb, Low-Fat (HCLF) diet. But the essence remains the same – nutrition in the purest form.
In this article, we will bring a spotlight on the benefits of the Whole Food Plant-Based diet. Interestingly, the benefits of a plant-based diet aren’t limited to physical health. It extends to our brain, overall life, and far beyond.
Let’s dive in!
What makes Whole Food Plant-Based diets so beneficial?
Before we can appreciate the benefits of the WFPB diet, it makes sense to look at what paves the way for them. Yes, you guessed it right. It’s the nutrients!
Our body needs a variety of essential nutrients to function, including carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals, certain fats, and water.
But, can you get each and every essential nutrient from a plant-based diet?
In contrast with popular opinion, food from plants can fulfill all your nutritional requirements. Yes, it’s true that a plant-based diet has limitations when it comes to a few nutrients. Out of which, only two are essential – Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D3.
Some sources of Vitamin B12 for vegans include nutritional yeast, tempeh, seaweed, and mushrooms. For Vitamin D3, you just need to bask in the sun.
Besides fulfilling the essential nutrition requirements, your humble Whole Food Plant-Based diet carries powerful natural substances or phytochemicals. Some of the common ones are carotenoids, phytosterols, polyphenols, limonoids, and polysaccharides.
These phytochemicals possess antioxidants, antiseptic, antiallergic, anti-inflammatory, and many other properties to protect from ailments, fight them, and boost overall health.
That said, here’s a list of incredible benefits you can expect if you eat a plant-based diet, not only limited to health but beyond.
Top 10 benefits of a plant-based diet
1. Can prevent chronic diseases
One of the topmost advantages of eating a plant-based diet is that it has the power to prevent chronic illnesses – diabetes, obesity, heart problems, cancer, and many others.
There is a growing body of evidence revealing the preventive effects of plant-based diets. Some recent studies suggest people who eat more plants and minimally processed food are less likely to suffer from heart problems. Increasing fruits and vegetables in your diet significantly lowers the risk of obesity as well.
Plant-based nutrition is known to protect from several types of cancers. Thanks to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, the phytochemicals fight off the cell damage caused by various risk factors. Thus, protecting the body against the risk of the development of cancerous cells. Similar effects are seen against other diseases too.
2. Can reverse chronic diseases
The benefits of the WFPB diet are not merely limited to avoiding disease. Even if you have a condition, you can get extraordinary results from adopting a plant-based lifestyle. A plant-based diet is capable of reversing chronic diseases, such as diabetes.
Studies show that type 2 diabetes can not only be prevented or managed through plant-based diets. It can very well be reversed, even without medication. The WFPB diet helps to regulate blood sugar and improves other health parameters, eventually reversing the disease.
Some studies indicate that it is possible to reverse heart disease too by following a WFPB diet. The key to which lies in low cholesterol intake. Moreover, antioxidant-rich food can help repair the damages underlying the progression of heart diseases.
Imagine not having to live on pills or making frequent hospital trips!
3. Aids weight loss
Fat accumulation in the body is one of the most critical risk factors that can lead to chronic diseases. As a result, people trying to lose weight are at an all-time high. So are the methods of weight loss.
Alarmingly, many are either ineffective or downright dangerous, especially when it comes to diet. So, it is vital that you choose a sustainable and healthy weight loss method. The WFPB diet is incredible for weight loss, and it gives long-lasting results. Many studies back the claim.
Eating whole foods rich in fiber means weight loss won’t be a painful quest. With a plant-based diet, it is possible to lose weight without compromising your appetite. Neither you’ll need to count calories, nor will your body be deprived of any essential nutrients.
4. Promotes a healthy gut
The health of the gut is significant for a healthy body and mind. The microorganisms inhabiting the gut play a crucial role in digestion and other body functions. The composition of the gut microbiome also affects our brain and emotions.
The good bacteria in the gut work to improve immunity and prevent obesity, IBS, ulcers, and other health issues. And, the key to a healthy gut lies in a plant-based diet. A WFPB diet, being rich in fiber, helps to keep your gut healthy.
Since dietary fibers do not digest in the gastrointestinal system, they ferment and promote the growth of different types of good microbes that regulate positive health effects.
5. Improves brain power and mental health
As mentioned earlier, the benefits of a plant-based diet stretch beyond just physical health. The WFPB diet is excellent for brain activities too.
The phytochemicals-rich food reduces oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain cells. Studies indicate people consuming plant-based diets see a lower risk of cognitive decline diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Many different types of plant nutrients are found to enhance the activities in the brain cells leading to improved memory, focus, information processing, etc. Further, eating plant-based can improve your mental health too.
6. Boosts physical stamina and athletic performance
Physical stamina is essential to get along with daily life. In recent decades, when our lifestyles are becoming sedentary and illness-prone, it is more so important. Plant-based diets are excellent for building physical stamina, muscle strength, and endurance.
If you’re into athletics or fitness training, it is a common notion that a complete reliance on a vegan diet can not fulfill your nutritional requirements. However, that is not true. Food from plants can provide all the calories and proteins you need.
Research reveals the better performance of many top athletes can be owed to plant-based diets.
7. Improves sex life
From reduced libido to erectile dysfunction, sexual issues are becoming more common than ever. Unhealthy diets and stressful routines are often to blame.
Plant-based diets can improve sex drive as many fruits, nuts, and vegetables are known to possess aphrodisiac properties. Some of these include strawberries, asparagus, avocado, walnut, figs, and pomegranate.
The WFPB diet also boosts mood, physical stamina, and blood circulation. All of these translate into better sexual performance.
8. Increases your lifespan and of future generations
The food you eat has a lot to do with your life expectancy. Scientific studies have managed to show a direct correlation of typical western dietary patterns with the risk of developing diseases, and thus reduced lifespan as well as the quality of life. The overconsumption of processed food, meat, and sugar are the precursors for a variety of ailments.
Moreover, the disease caused by unhealthy diet patterns is affecting the generations to come. The disorders you develop due to your unhealthy lifestyle can pass on to your children through mutated genes.
On the other hand, healthier dietary patterns have almost irrevocably been found to be linked with increased lifespans. The protective and disease reversal effects of plant-based diets are one of the main reasons behind the increase in longevity. Obviously, if you are free of lifestyle diseases, you are less likely to pass on the genes to your children. So, their lifespan is likely to increase as well.
Some of the healthiest and longest-living people on the planet are known to primarily eat plant-based diets. Not only were they free of diseases, but they lived longer and happier lives. One of the best examples is the dietary patterns of the Okinawa people. The traditional Okinawa diet has been distinctly plant-based rich in carbs, green vegetables, soy products, and local fruits.
9. Saves you money
Along with the fascinating health benefits, you can enjoy the benefits of a Whole Food Plant-Based diet in your pocket too.
It is a popular notion that eating vegan or whole food can be expensive. The truth is quite the opposite. A plant-based diet is not expensive at all. In fact, it can help you save a lot on your grocery shopping in comparison to a meat-based diet.
A Whole Food Plant-Based grocery allows you not only to shop under budget but also explore interesting food items and get maximum nutritional value from your food.
If you’re struggling with over-expensive food shopping, check out our ultimate guide to a budget-friendly WFPB lifestyle.
10. Can help save the planet and its other inhabitants
We, humans, are often seen as a selfish species. We have a habit of overlooking the severe impact our seemingly innocuous actions have on our planet, especially our food choices.
Animal rearing for meat, dairy, and eggs has a huge carbon footprint. Forests are cut at an alarming rate to make grazing lands. A lot of energy, water, and chemicals are spent in rearing, processing, and transporting animal-based products. For example, cow manure releases methane in massive amounts contributing to global warming. Fishery too contributes significantly to carbon emissions and marine pollution.
Eating green and whole foods is one of the best ways you can help save our planet. Better still if it is locally grown food. It helps to avoid the carbon footprint of transportation. Furthermore, you can grow some of the food items in your garden. It will have more positive benefits on the environment and your life.
Along with the environmental damage, our dietary choices cause a lot of animal suffering. Eating plant-based is vital for putting a halt to this cruelty.
Isn’t it fascinating how a simple dietary choice can affect so many aspects of our lives?
A plant-based diet, as we discussed, has immense health benefits due to its therapeutic nutrients. You can protect yourself from several illnesses lurking due to a poor lifestyle by eating plant-based whole food. Not to forget, eating WFPB can even help you reverse diseases, or at least, manage them better.
The benefits of a Whole Food Plant-Based diet are equally notable if you’re struggling to lose weight and running around for sustainable results. Moreover, it also promotes good gut health and brain health, further improving our quality of life and increasing our lifespan. Plant-based diets work holistically to improve our overall health.
You can also rely on a plant-based diet to build your physical stamina and endurance and achieve athletic goals. Plus, food from plants is great for your sex life.
If you want to control your expenses on groceries, a plant-based diet is again an excellent choice. You’ll find whole grains, fruits, vegetables to be not only highly nutritious but also much cheaper than animal-based food.
Lastly, whether you’re concerned about the environment or not, a plant-based lifestyle can help reduce carbon footprints and prevent animal cruelty.