A plant-based diet is rounding globally and capturing social media and people’s minds. But the question still remains: what is a plant-based diet? Is it just a trend? Or is it worthwhile to follow? Let’s discuss this.
A plant-based diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes is being practiced globally with variations like a vegan (avoiding meat, poultry, seafood, and dairy products), vegetarian (excluding poultry meat, seafood), flexitarian (which may or may not include poultry/meat/seafood/dairy products).
History Of A Plant-based Diet
According to the earliest records and evidence, this diet dates back to the 6th century BC when it was significantly practiced in India. It was also practiced by the Greek civilization, Europe, and South Asian countries. Gradually the plant-based diet vanished from the European Countries but was still practiced in some Asian countries like India under the camouflage of religion. Later in the 17th and 19th centuries, it was re-introduced in some parts of America and Britain. In the 20th century, the popularity of a plant-based diet grew owing to its nutritional and economic benefits.
What Are The Effects On The Body?
A plant-based diet is effective in promoting a diverse ecosystem of beneficial bacteria, supporting both the human gut microbiome and overall health. It is easy to digest except in some conditions like low stomach acid, IBS, etc., where it can be consumed by modifying its texture and consistency. As compared to omnivores, those following this diet have significantly higher counts of certain Bacteroidetes-related operational taxonomic units.
Fibers increase lactic acid bacteria, such as Ruminococcus, E. rectale, and Roseburia, and reduce Clostridium and Enterococcus species. It encourages the growth of species that ferment fiber into metabolites like short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), including acetate, propionate, and butyrate with positive effects like improved immunity against pathogens, blood-brain barrier integrity, provision of energy substrates, and regulation of critical functions of the intestine.
Polyphenols increase Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus, which provide anti-pathogenic and anti-inflammatory effects and cardiovascular protection.
Economic And Environmental Benefits
Practicing a plant-based diet not only benefits your health but it can help protect the environment and add some more savings to your pocket; it is locally cultivated and does not need much processing. This makes it easily available and cost-effective. It can also be grown in your backyard or balcony. As it improves your health quotient, it ultimately reduces economic costs, such as hospital admissions and doctors’ bills. It requires less processing. This helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption, and land used for factory farming, which are all factors in global warming and environmental degradation.
Health Benefits Of A Plant-based Diet
1. Maintains Your Weight
This diet is packed with a lot of fiber, which fills your stomach soon without adding extra calories. It also keeps the unwanted fats at bay and away from you, which speeds your weight gain. Maintaining a normal weight further eliminates the risk of obesity, diabetes, hypertension caused due to obesity, etc.
2. Keeps Your Heart Healthy
Plant-Based foods are rich in potassium; it helps to reduce blood pressure, stress, and anxiety. Also, plants contain no cholesterol, which leads to lowering the cholesterol levels and keeping your heart healthy. Consume foods like legumes, fruits, vegetables, etc. for a healthy heart.
3. Controls Your Sugar Levels
The fiber in plants helps to slow down the absorptions of sugar in the bloodstream, stabilizing the sugar levels in your body. It gives a feeling of satiety for a more extended period of time.
4. Helps To Fight Cancer
Research has shown that a plant-based diet is the best diet for cancer prevention. The phytochemicals in the plants protect the healthy cells from getting damaged from the cancer cells; it imposes anti-inflammatory effects and boosts immunity.
On the whole, a plant-based diet is not just a trend. It is a peaceful way to achieve a healthy body and mind definitely in accompany with exercise.