Whole food plant based Diet
Plant based nutrition is about eating mostly or completely from plants. This means avoiding or reducing foods from animals such as red meat, poultry, fish, dairy and eggs. A plant based diet includes foods such as fresh vegetables, fruit, nuts, grains, lentils and beans. Eating whole foods is essentially eating foods as close to their natural form as possible and avoiding refined foods. Refined foods often have most of their nutrients stripped from them, leaving predominantly either fats or concentrated sugars - for example white flour and white sugar.
Why plant based
· reduced cardiovascular disease
· lower rates of diabetes
· lower rates of overweight and obesity.
· good for the environment
· reduction in some cancers eg prostate and breast cancer rates.
· increased energy and sense of well being.
· avoidance of animal cruelty
There are many great benefits from eating a plant based diet. The cholesterol we eat comes from animal sources. This means eating a plant based diet can significantly lower your cholesterol levels and protect against heart disease. The amount of saturated fat (bad fats) is reduced as this comes mostly from animal foods. Plants are the only source of fiber in our diets therefore a plant based diet is naturally high in fiber which is good for our digestive system and helps protect against colon cancer. Plant foods are also packed full of nutrients, plenty of antioxidants and cancer fighting properties.
Some illness cannot be prevented, for example a broken leg or a congenital condition. However the growing list of people with ‘western’ type illnesses is climbing at an uncontrollable rate. Every 90 minutes a New Zealander dies from coronary heart disease. One million New Zealanders are now obese, rivaled only by USA and Mexico per population. Cancer has the second highest mortality rate in New Zealand . Every day around 51 people are diagnosed with cancer in New Zealand and there are 22 cancer deaths a day. There is growing evidence linking diet with cancer. The World Health Organization has determined that dietary factors account for at least 30 percent of all cancers in Western countries and up to 20 percent in developing countries. When cancer researchers started to search for links between diet and cancer, one of the most noticeable findings was that people who avoided meat were much less likely to develop the disease
It is easy to start incorporating more plants into your diet. This page gives you tips about how to do this and is also designed to educate you about nutrition and what the body needs to stay happy and healthy.
An easy place to start is to think of a dinner plate. When serving up you should be aiming for a plate that looks like this…..
1. choose foods mostly from plants
2. choose whole foods and phase out all refined and processed foods from your diet
3. choose carbohydrates that are low GI
4. eat a rainbow of coloured foods
5. try to include 3 or more servings of nuts and beans in your diet daily
6. include a source of good fat in your diet daily
7. minimize caffeine and alcohol as these can strip the body and inhibit absorption of nutrients
8. drink plenty of water – aim for 6-8 cups of water or herbal tea.
Making all these changes at once can be overwhelming. Try just choosing one of these tips each week to make it more achievable..
Macro vs micro
What we eat can be broken down into the big things we can see, macro, and the smaller parts, micro. Macro components of our diet can be grouped into three main groups- carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Everything we eat can be put into one of these macro categories or is a combination of the three. For example a banana is mostly carbohydrate and nuts are mainly protein.
The body also needs micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals. These are tiny but very essential to allow the body to rebuild itself and support thousands of metabolic enzyme pathways.
Vegetarian: This usually describes people who avoid all meat but still include egg and dairy in their diets. Reducing meat does reduce the intake of harmful fats and reduces colon cancer risk. However dairy and eggs still contribute to increased cholesterol levels and expose the body to inflammatory animal proteins.
Vegan: Vegan means avoiding all animal products. It can also sometimes include honey and products made from animals such as leather. People can be vegan for all sorts of reasons including health, the environment and animal welfare concerns.