What is Plant-based Nutrition?

The term “plant-based nutrition” means consuming a whole-foods, plant-based diet that is health-promoting.  Proponents of plant-based diets believe that this way of eating is the best way to achieve the healthiest human body. 

 

Plant-based nutrition focuses on the nutrient density of foods.  We eat foods with the highest proportion of nutrients to calories.  Plants are packed full of phytochemicals, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber which all have health promoting effects.  Animal foods contain cholesterol and saturated fat which promote disease and weight gain. 

 

Those following plant-based diets only eat whole foods.  The term whole food is taken literally here to mean “the whole food,” such as: apples, broccoli, brown rice, and beans that have not been stripped of their original packaging. 

 

Those following a plant-based diet do not eat processed foods.  Processed foods typically come in packages such as cookies, crackers, cereals, and contain multiple ingredients and food additives and preservatives.  By not eating processed packaged foods means we don’t consume food additives, preservatives, hormones, antibiotics, chemicals, GMOs, added salt, added sugar, or added fat.  (If we eat something from a package it typically only has one ingredient such as a bag of rice or a box of frozen peas.)

 

Plant-based means that the majority of calories we eat come from foods grown in/on/from the ground such as fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds. If it came from an animal we typically don’t eat it, or eat very little; these are: meats, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, cheese, etc.

 

Those on plant-based diets have claimed these benefits:

  • Weight loss
  • Disease prevention and reversal
  • Decreased blood cholesterol levels
  • Improved blood sugar levels
  • Fewer colds and flu
  • Reduction in chronic pain
  • Increased stamina
  • Improved brain function
  • Sustained energy levels
  • Improved athletic performance

 

Do you need to eat 100% plant-based diet in order to achieve these benefits (in other words absolutely no meat, fish, eggs, or dairy ever again)?  The answer to this is no, you do not need to be 100% pure plant-based in order to realize these benefits.  The questions are:

  • How much can you commit to?  80%?  90%  100%?
  • How do you feel once you achieved 80% plant-based?
  • How do you feel at 100% plant-based?
  • Where does your comfort level lie?  Where do you feel physically best?

 

What does science say is the optimum percentage of plant-based calories you should consume?  The science says that you need to achieve at least 90% if you want disease protection, and possibly reversal.  (Multi-year studies are still pending on subjects that consumed 100% plant-based diets and their disease rates.)

 

There is significant agreement among many medical and nutritional experts that anything over 90% (plant-based foods of total calories consumed) demonstrates positive health results.  A significant correlation has been proven between plant-based diets and high quality of physical health and low disease rates in human beings.  (Eat to Live, Joel Fuhrman, M.D. 2003, 2011 and The China Study, T. Colin Campbell, PhD & Thomas M. Campbell II, 2006)