*Disclaimer! Before we go any further, this is not another blog post about a fad diet that is aimed at guilting you into changing the way you eat. This is simply a few positive reasons why adopting a whole foods plant-based diet will help you feel amazing! I will also try to avoid using big scientific wording and just give you the most important points. Hope you enjoy!
It’s that time of year again where people set New Year’s resolutions. If you’re like me, you love making New Year’s resolutions! If you’re not like me, hopefully this blog post will change your mind! Over the years, I have realized a trend in my resolution setting: The goals that were meaningful to me, I achieved! Simple enough, right?
As a physical therapist, health and wellness have always been extremely meaningful to me. This is why I hope to provide you with my three favorite reasons for making one, simple, life-changing resolution this year. When I began adopting a more plant-based diet I got sick less, I felt more energized and it was a catalyst for other healthy habits such as drinking more water and exercising regularly. So, here are my three favorite reasons to adopt a plant-based diet in 2017:
1. Improve your mood & productivity. I don’t know a single person who doesn’t want to feel happy and productive each day. However, in trying to save time in a busy day, we settle for the fast food joint down the street. The standard American diet (nicknamed SAD, for good reason) is full of heavily processed food, dairy products, animal protein, excessive fats and oils. Eating this type of diet leaves most people feeling unmotivated and quite frankly sad. No wonder America has an alarmingly high rate of mental illnesses like depression. Eating a plant-based diet, that is high in fruits and vegetables, may improve mood and decrease depression. This is because a plant-based diet is high in nutrients and antioxidants, which fight inflammation in the body. Research shows that a healthy plant-based diet is associated with significant reduction of depression, fatigue, anxiety and this can happen in just two-weeks! How can you do this yourself?! Try making your lunch rich in vegetables sans meat tomorrow (see recipes at the end of this blog). You’ll be more productive and energetic than all your co-workers! New Year, Better You!
2. Spice up your life! A life worth living, is a life full of fun and flavor! When I began embarking on my own journey to eating a more plant-based diet, my favorite discovery was the world of spices! Spices are ground from roots, seeds and other plants. Unbeknownst to me, spices are extremely high in antioxidants. This means they are extremely powerful at fighting oxidative stress in your body. What is oxidative stress? Ever cut open an apple, leave it on the counter and later it turns brown? That is oxidative stress; an aging process caused by oxygen. Now put lemon juice on your apple slices and you’ll notice less browning. That is because lemons are full of antioxidants! Our bodies are no different than those apple slices, and we constantly need antioxidants to fight cellular damage and maintain a healthy immune system. Turns out, the spices turmeric and cinnamon have extremely high antioxidant levels and are excellent at decreasing inflammation in the body. My colleague, Dr. Erin Caudill PT, DPT, NCS makes this incredible spice elixir (formula credit to her mother) whenever she feels a cold coming on and it works wonders:
2 TBS organic unfiltered unpasteurized apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp of each: turmeric, ground ginger, cinnamon, cumin (cumin can make it hard to drink, sometimes I take it out)
1/8 tsp cloves
1 tsp (or more, to taste) raw organic honey
8 oz water
Shake and drink quick. Do 2x per day if possible
Just by adding more spices to your food every day, you can significantly increase your body’s ability to fight disease! I add turmeric and cinnamon to my morning smoothie every day. Delicious!
*Fun Fact—Berries are also very high in antioxidants! Generally, the more colorful the food, the higher the antioxidant level is.
3. Small changes equal BIG health rewards. Who doesn’t love getting the most bang for your buck? Eating a mostly plant-based diet is exactly that; the simplest way to reap the most health benefits without side effects. Now, when I became vegetarian, it did not happen all at once. The best way to make lasting changes is to commit to small, incremental adjustments until you’ve reached your ultimate goal. Just by adopting a “Meatless Monday” and adding in more plant-rich meals throughout the week, you will significantly reduce your risk of developing Heart Disease, Cancer, Diabetes, Parkinson’s Disease, Stroke, High cholesterol, Alzheimer’s and Chronic Fatigue. Research is numerous in the ability of a plant-based diet to not only reduce your risk of developing these major life-changing ailments, but the possibility of reversing or halting the disease in its tracks (like Alzheimer’s and Cancer). Don’t believe me? Read from some of the world’s leading medical doctors and researchers for yourself:
Dr. Michael Greger’s book, How Not To Die and website full of clinical research that is easy for anyone to absorb, www.nutritionfacts.org
So there you have it! It is my hope that one of these three points strikes a chord enough to make a resolution worth sticking to. Jim Rohn said it best: Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live. I promise you, your body and brain will thank you for it!
Websites & Videos:
How Not To Die by Michael Greger, MD
Healing Spices by Bharat B. Aggarwal, PhD
We would love to hear from you! Have you tried a plant based diet or other diet that has helped you meet your health goals?
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Special thanks to Dr. Erin Caudil PT, DPT, NCS and Dr. Claire McLean PT, DPT, NCS for their support and plant-based guidance!