The question “is a plant-based diet healthy” comes with a lot of baggage and dogma. It’s difficult to paint a large swath over every individual plant based diet out there. You will see so many varying arguments about this topic. It’s enough to overwhelm and make your head spin. I’m not interested in a debate or a fight. This article is all about what is healthy for the human body. I am sharing this information as someone who’s eaten the gamut.
I was both vegetarian and vegan from 18 throughout my 20s, but ate a lot of garbage. In my early 30s, I hopped on the paleo and AIP bandwagon shortly after my Hashimotos diagnosis. Shifting to a more whole foods approach helped some for a bit. But, ultimately, after becoming devastatingly ill, a whole foods plant-based diet is what saved me and brought me back to life. I reversed my Hashimotos and mystery neurological condition by cutting out all animal products and focusing on fruits and vegetables as medicine.
I used to fall into the camp that we need meat to be healthy. Hearing all of the stories about sick, malnourished vegans, I believed I needed meat. But in truth, you cannot lump every plant-based or vegan person in one boat. I remember dating a vegan who ate Oreos and was so excited when Skittles became vegan. Clearly, he wasn’t interested in eating healthy.
Plant-Based vs Vegan Diet
The vegan versus plant-based diet has ramped up over the last decade. To me, one of the main differences is the quality of food being consumed. The vegan diet is simply about avoiding animal products of any kind. This leaves all sorts of processed foods and artificial preservatives and flavorings on the table. One can absolutely eat a healthy vegan diet, that is free of these ingredients. However, veganism in general does not immediately equate with healthy.
The second main difference is the animal rights versus health side of things. You see, claiming veganism extends past one’s diet. It means abstaining or refraining from the use of animal products in all areas of one’s life. Traditionally, vegans are said to eat this way in support of animal rights and to help save the lives of suffering animals. Whereas plant-based folks are in it more for the health benefits. A plant-based person might occasionally consume an animal product, whereas it’s a lot less likely for someone adhering to a vegan diet.
But of course, none of this is strictly accurate for everyone. These are labels. Sometimes labels are of benefit like when someone invites you over for dinner and is trying to figure out what to prepare for you. Other times, the labels can confine and limit us and our thinking. Either way, it’s really most important for you to get clear within yourself. Are you wanting to eat a more plant-based diet to improve your health? If so, there are some wonderful guidelines further down so you see and feel the improvement.
The High Fat Pitfall
I know of many plant-based folks who eat tons of nuts and “healthy fats”. Is this better than the Standard American Diet? Oh, for sure. But high amounts of fat are actually not healthy for anyone. Yeah, I know. How can I say that? We all have different bodies. Sure. We do. However, our bodies are fundamentally the same in how they function. Unless you’re some shape-shifting reptilian, chances are, your human body runs on glucose. Not fat. And not protein. This isn’t common knowledge just yet.
The nervous system, adrenals, and liver all thrive and run off glucose. It is critical for your health. Literally, every single cell in the body needs it. Without glucose, you will die. Without fat however, you will not. High fat diets cause incredible stress on the liver – which is usually already in over its head due to the incredible amount of toxins we’re all exposed to on this planet, in this lifetime. We are even born with inherited toxins so we do not start with a clean slate.
When we eat fat, especially high amounts, the liver is not able to do many (if any) of its other processes which are critical to the health of the entire body. The liver watches our backs constantly – processing anything and everything we come into the contact with. This includes what we take in through the skin and what we breathe in. But, it isn’t able to do this job very well when it’s overtaxed from toxins and high amounts of fat. Bile production is needed from the liver in order for fats to be broken down. This strenuous process makes it so the liver cannot detox at the same time.
So, what I’m saying is a plant-based diet can actually be the healthiest diet around, but it’s best when kept low fat. So what does that mean? It means we focus on foods like fruits, veggies, leafy greens, and potatoes. I know that potatoes and fruit have gotten a bad wrap because they’re high in carbs. However, you might be pleased to know that these carbs don’t feed pathogens or cancers. Nor do they generally contribute to weight issues. AND, they are actually key to resolving blood sugar issues. Not only that, as I pointed to earlier, these carbs are essential to your health. These foods contain phytochemicals and nutrients that are critical to keep the body in balance.
I get the whole concern about eating fruit and potatoes. I abstained from eating them for quite a while. But let me tell you. Once I brought these foods back into my life, my system was thanking me every time I ate them. It clearly had missed the glucose along with the dense nutrients offered. Check out this post that addresses several popular fruit questions.
Plant-Based Diet Benefits
Which leads me to the amazing medicine that is in fruits and vegetables. When your food is your medicine, you are at lower risk of becoming ill and you improve the chances of reversing illness you currently struggle with. Fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, potatoes and winter squash protect you and provide the body with critical nutrients that address underlying causes of most illnesses. They support the liver, nervous system, brain, adrenals, and heart – really all of the organs and glands are healthier on a low-fat plant-based diet.
A low-fat plant-based diet can:
- Prevent illness
- Slow down aging
- Kill off pathogens
- Heal the body on a cellular level
- Help to maintain a healthy weight
- Regulate the nervous system
- Support eliminating and cleansing toxins
- Give you more energy
- Reverse chronic illness, including autoimmune
It can alleviate the following symptoms:
- Weight issues
- Brain fog
- Digestive issues
- Tingling and numbness
- Skin issues
- Body aches and pains
- Heart palpitations
- And much much more…
Best Plant-Based Diet
As I’ve mentioned above, it’s important to stay low fat if you are really wanting the most bang for your buck with a plant-based diet.
Focus on the following foods:
- All fruits
- All vegetables
- Potatoes and sweet potatoes
- Leafy Greens
- Raw honey
Eat these foods in moderation:
- Nuts and seeds (sprouted best)
- Nut milks
- Coconut oil, avocado oil (for cooking)
- Almond, sesame, olive oil (raw)
- Gluten-free grains (GF oats and millet are best)
- Turkey breast or wild salmon (occasional if so desired)
Avoid these foods completely:
- Pork, chicken, beef
- Nutritional yeast
It’s important to note that when you start eating a more plant based diet and you are eating less fat, you will need to eat more to be satiated. Getting in enough healthy carbohydrates and glucose from fruits and carbohydrate-rich vegetables is essential. It’s best to make this a gradual shift, especially if you are wanting it to last and/or if you are sensitive.
The Protein Myth
This brings me to the protein myth. It goes deeper than most people think. Not only do we not need animal products, but we also don’t need a ton of protein in general. Hold on. Don’t freak out yet. The thing is, when we eat something like a piece of chicken breast with 20 grams of protein, the body doesn’t actually get to use much of that protein for fuel. Most of it gets eliminated because it’s so difficult for the body to break down. So, really, you might get 2-3 grams of protein from it. On top of that, it stresses the body out just to get to a place where it can utilize that protein. Animal protein simply isn’t a clean fuel source for the body.
In contrast, say you eat a spinach salad, you’ll get something like 1-2 grams of bioavailable protein that’s easy for the body to assimilate and use. Not to mention all of the awesome trace mineral salts, electrolytes, vitamins, and disease fighting compounds found in leafy greens. Believe it or not, a few leaves of spinach provide enough bioavailable protein for the day. We simply do not need to bombard the body with protein and can, in fact, hinder our health this way. Yes, even if you are looking to build muscle. Glucose from fruits and starchy veggies and sodium cluster salts that are found in leafy greens are key here as well. Perhaps Popeye was onto something…
Plant-Based Diet and B12
One of the common misconceptions about a plant-based diet is that it’ll cause someone to become deficient in B12. In actuality, eating meat does not provide B12. Most people walking around are already deficient in B12 regardless of whether they are plant-based or not. Unless someone is getting a ton of elevated biotics from fresh unwashed produce, they are going to need to supplement. Vimergy and Global Healing Center offer great products with the right kind of B12 with both Adenosylcobalamin and Methylcobalamine.
Starting a Plant-Based Diet
Take your time. The body will begin to detox as you provide it with medicinal foods and abstain from foods that contribute to toxicity. You don’t want to overwhelm it. Be sure to drink plenty of living water to hydrate and cleanse as you detox. Take it a day at a time. Be patient with your body. It’s an incredible and intelligent vessel that knows what to do. If you struggle with eating too much fruits or leafy greens because of a reaction, I highly suggest you check out this post of mine.
If you are interested in 1-on-1 guidance, please check out my services page. Blessings on your healing journey!