While fad diets have circulated for decades, one meal plan that’s never lost traction is plant-based eating. By adding more plants to our daily meals, we can lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Additionally, we’re also helping to reduce some of the harmful effects of climate change. Less meat, healthier living? Yes, please. Here are some practical tips for adopting a plant-based diet for your health (and the planet).
Stay Away from Convenience Foods
An influx of “fake meat” has recently inundated the plant-based food market. However, are these packaged food items better for us than fresh produce and other closer-to-nature menu items? As multiple health experts told the Guardian, not necessarily. Like other packaged foods, faux meats can pack a lot of extra “stuff” onto their ingredient lists. Excess sodium and fillers, for example, are common in these products.
Plus, the more you rely on convenience foods, the less likely you are to consume the healthiest plant-based foods: actual plants. Sticking with nutrient-dense plant foods such as legumes, seeds, leafy greens, and enriched grains is optimal. Of course, fortified plant milks and soybean foods also make the list of healthy vegan menu items.
Expand Your Menu
When embarking on a new nutritional path, it can be challenging to figure out what to eat. You might find that by going plant-based, you’re severely limiting your diet to several staples you know you like. The problem with this is it makes plant-based eating feel like a diet. Experts have confirmed that fad diets don’t work, and it’s because they’re too strict to stick with long-term.
Fortunately, eating less meat and dairy doesn’t mean you have to eat from a boring menu — vegetarian and vegan dishes can be just as delicious as any other meal. In short, the secret to eating more plants is including a range of colors with each meal.
And it’s not just dieticians who want you to expand your palate. As CBS News reports, experts say to consume 10 or more servings of fruits and veggies per day. You’ll find more antioxidants, vitamins, potassium, and tons of other nutrients in darker fruit and vegetables.
Keep Things Simple
Unless you’re a budding chef, there’s no reason to get overly complicated with your meals. There are plenty of complex recipes out there for those turning toward more plants and less animal-based foods. However, when it comes down to it, you only need a balance of nutrients — protein, carbohydrates, vitamins — to keep your body moving.
Cooking simply — and avoiding additives, preservatives, and excess sodium and oil — is accessible and healthy for us all. As a bonus, you’ll get more creative with the flavors in your meals without additional prep steps. Remembering that fresh food itself has plenty of flavor can help you avoid additives in your kitchen. For example, Medline Plus recommends using natural flavoring for your meals to skip the salt, such as:
- Lemon or another citrus fruit
- Fresh or powdered garlic and onion
- Any variety of pepper (black, green, white, red)
- Vinegar (rice wine, balsamic, etc.)
- Toasted sesame oil
- Dry mustard
- Fresh hot peppers
- Paprika, cayenne, etc.
Seniors and Plant-Based Diets
Although they’ve recently become trendy, plant-based diets aren’t just for younger generations. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and healthy grains can offer benefits for people of all ages. Concentrating on eating better is an essential first step toward longevity.
Of course, just because you improve your diet doesn’t mean you can abandon regular exercise. Exercising regularly well into your golden years is still crucial. And if you have Medicare Advantage, you may be eligible for the SilverSneakers program. Participants in the program receive access to over 13,000 participating fitness centers across the nation. SilverSneakers provides better access to fitness facilities — all through your existing healthcare plan. Furthermore, to take advantage of SilverSneakers, you also need to be 65 or older (or qualify for Medicare due to a disability) and a citizen of the United States.
Eating more plants is a simple way to get on track toward a healthier future. And regardless of your age or fitness level, consuming healthy foods is an excellent means of improving your lifestyle. Fortunately, what’s good for your body is also great for the planet.
Photo via Pixabay
There are two types of inflammation in the body. The first is natural inflammation that is welcome as a part of healing. The second is unwelcome and can have damaging effects on your body. If you struggle with the second type of inflammation and learn to manage it well, you can live a long, healthy, and thriving life.
What Is Inflammation?
Inflammation is a natural part of the body’s immune system response. If you experience an injury or infection, your body naturally responds with inflammation as the first step to the healing process. Signs of inflammation include pain, redness, inability to move the region of the body that is inflamed, swelling, and heat. As inflammation decreases, the symptoms will dissipate.
Sometimes, inflammation goes away, which is a cause for concern. Prolonged inflammation results in whole-body impact. Essentially, your body’s immune system is consistently attempting to recover. When you’re in this state, acute inflammation is referred to as systemic inflammation.
What Is Systemic Inflammation?
Systemic inflammation reveals itself in various forms, and the resulting symptoms are different for everyone. Systemic Inflammation results in inflammation throughout the body and can either be caused by disease (such as type II diabetes, Lyme disease, cardiovascular disease, and many cancers) and auto-immune disorders or can cause disease, sepsis, and organ failure. Inflammation becomes chronic when the immune system is working on overdrive to combat an infection, it becomes confused and attacks parts of the body that resembles infection or injury, or it senses a problem but mistakes the remedy and sends white blood cells to attack healthy tissue or organs.Systemic inflammation can be worsened by some of the following:
- Food allergies
- Auto-immune disease
- Lack of physical activity
- Lack of sleep
How Does Systemic Inflammation Affect the Body?
Many people suffer from inflammation and do not know about it. If you’re experiencing the swelling that comes with a broken bone, bruising, or heat to the touch, it’s evident you have inflammation; but with systemic inflammation, the symptoms are not as obvious.Systemic inflammation can result in or exacerbate the following:
- Body pain/aches
- Low energy/fatigue
- Heart disease
- Brain fog
- Gum disease
How Do You Treat Systemic Inflammation?
The first step you should take is to consult with your healthcare provider and rule out inflammation being the symptom of a disease or other serious underlying issue. You may consider getting a blood test and allergy test done to rule out foods or a lack of the right vitamins being the source of the problem. Check with your doctor and do research to determine if CBD oil is right got you. CBD oil has been shown to reduce pain and inflammation. Look at different CBD products and review their pros and cons to help determine which one fits your specific needs.
Many have found a change in diet to be beneficial to reduce or eliminate inflammation. Ketogenic diets, which are low in carbohydrates, may prove to reduce the pain associated with inflammation or inflammation itself. Reducing or eliminating dairy, sugars, gluten, and salt intake — while adding fruits, vegetables, dark leafy greens, fiber, healthy oils, and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids — have shown to help many in managing inflammation. Improving the health of your gut can also help fight inflammation. You can improve the state of your gut by eating foods such as yogurt, apple cider vinegar, or sauerkraut or by taking probiotics. By trying to take control and treat the root problem of your symptoms, you will feel great, experience fewer illnesses, sleep better, lose weight, and have better skin.
If you struggle with systemic inflammation, you can reverse the effect by taking control of your lifestyle. By changing your diet, exercising, getting enough sleep, finding methods that relax your body, reducing your exposure to harmful toxins, and proactively alleviating pain through alternative options (such as CBD oil), you could experience a total transformation. Be proactive and you can begin to take your life back today.