Every year, researchers are finding more and more benefits to following a plant-based diet. Some benefits of plant-based diets include lowering LDL “bad” cholesterol, preventing heart disease and high blood pressure, helping to control blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes, and improved body weight.
If you are suffering from chronic pain from whatever source, choosing to follow plant-based diet could help you cope with your pain, and you may even feel significant relief. Research demonstrates that plant-based diets may be a treatment option for people with diabetic neuropathy pain and even osteoarthritis.
As you can see, the benefits of plant-based diets are many. However, for many people, starting a plant-based diet means making significant lifestyle and food choice changes. Even for people who are aware of the many benefits of a plant-based diet, they may still be at the contemplation stage.
If you are one of those people, you may be seriously considering making the change, but you not know how to start. Here, we offer you a quick guide on how to start leading a plant-based diet.
You might be surprised at how easy it is to start!
But first, a little background.
What Defines a Plant-Based Diet?
People usually use the term “diet” when they refer to restricting their food choices in some way, often to lose weight or to meet some other health goal. In the nutrition world, a diet is defined as a pattern of eating. In other words, your diet is what you normally eat on a daily, weekly, and even monthly basis. Over time, certain patterns form, and it is these regular choices that affect our health, rather than short-term changes we make.
For example, drinking a green smoothie one day will not prevent illness, even if it is high in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Drinking a natural fruit and vegetable smoothie most days over several months and years, however, in addition to other healthy food choices on a daily basis, can help to prevent a range of illnesses because more fruits and vegetables now form part of your diet pattern.
We’ve picked apart the word “diet”, but what about the “plant-based” part of the phrase? You might equate a plant-based diet with “vegan” or “vegetarian” diets. While this might be true for some specialist, plant-based diets might be defined slightly differently by different people.
The Association of UK Dieticians summarizes the different forms of plant-based diets very well. They include:
- Lacto-ovo vegetarianism: A diet that avoids meat, poultry, and seafood, but includes eggs and dairy products.
- Ovo-vegetarianism: Same as above, but also avoids dairy products.
- Pescatarians: Eat fish and shellfish, but not poultry or beef.
- Flexitarians: occasionally eat meat and/or poultry but eat mostly plant-based foods.
- Veganism: avoids all animal products, including eggs, dairy, and honey.
Plant-based foods include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, tubers, nuts, and seeds. Well-balanced plant. Based diets are low in saturated fat, include complete proteins, and have plenty of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.