Instead of starving ourselves by eating less food, what if we just ate better food? Imagine having a diet that puts emphasis on eating lots of vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and some whole grains, and is at least 90 percent plant-based? This would include at least one big salad every day, veggie-bean soup, a handful of nuts and seeds, fruits at every meal, a pound of cooked greens and some whole grains while not having refined grains, processed foods, and a restriction on animal products. Are you up for it?
Many social media influencers and celebrities today have made it seem that vegetarianism is a fountain of youth and it’s a new way forward. According to a study conducted by JAMA Internal Medicine which tracked more than 70,000 people, plant-based diets have shown to improve health and decrease the risk of Type 2 Diabetes. Moreover, data from the Harvard Women’s Health Study, the Nurses’ Health Study, the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, and other trials showed that adults who ate the most meat (red meat and processed meat) had the highest risk of Type 2 Diabetes.
Even though vegetarianism or veganism is an ideal diet to follow, it can seem daunting and unsustainable to many who have accustomed their palate to consuming meats and processed foods. However, evidence suggests that a plant-based diet leads to a greater improvement in the quality of life and mood. A study conducted by the American Diabetes Association showed that following a balanced vegetarian diet felt less constrained than those sticking to a conventional diet that included other food types and products. The study also revealed that disinhibition decreased with a vegetarian diet. Hence, those eating plant-based were less likely to binge and felt less hungry. The plant-based diet was also deemed to be sustainable in the long-term, which is critical for dietary change.
Plant-Based Diets: Its Benefits
The main advantage of a plant-based diet is due to the foods you will be consuming at a higher frequency – vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, and nuts. According to Sharon Palmer, R.D.N., editor of Environmental Nutrition, when you focus on a plant-based diet with little meats, your diet is packed with the fibre, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats that most adults don’t get enough of from their regular eating habits.
1. Bioactive Nutrient Plant Chemicals
Plant-based diets are also full of phytochemicals that have great antioxidant potential. These are compounds that help your body systems running smoothly. For example, berries have anthocyanins which help protect vision while carrots and cantaloupe have carotenoids which are essential for eye health. Brussels sprouts have isothiocyanates which neutralize the free radicals that cause cell damage; and apples have flavonoids which help control inflammation. Not a fan of actual fruits or vegetables? Well, then superfood powders are a convenient way of making your meals more nutrient-dense. From camu camu powder to acai berry powder, Nature’s Superfoods is an organic food store in Singapore that houses an expansive range of healthy foods.
A plant-based diet can also improve the quality of your life. It is associated with higher levels of short-chain fatty acids in the gut in which research suggests lowers the risk of Type 2 Diabetes.
2. Biological Factors
Three biological factors explain why a plant-based diet is effective for glycaemic control. First, foods from plants contain less total fat, resulting in reduced caloric intake and improved weight control. Second, independent of weight control, a plant-based diet improves insulin sensitivity, presumably by reducing intramyocellular lipid accumulation. As insulin sensitivity improves, carbohydrate tolerance increases. Third, studies have shown that people who consumed low-GI carbohydrates and limited high-GI foods have triglyceride levels that did not increase even with higher carbohydrate intake. This indicates that your body system and blood sugar are responding properly to insulin.
Does Age Matter?
According to experts, it is never too early or late to embrace a healthier plant-based lifestyle. The benefits of a plant-based diet occur quickly and continue to accrue with time. A study conducted showed that women after the age of 50 years who ate a mostly plant-based diet were 34% more likely to be free of chronic diseases like Type 2 Diabetes and are said to live 15 years longer than women whose diets included more meat. Hence, age does not matter! But it is best to start early.
Meal Plan: What a Balanced Vegetarian Diet Looks Like
Are you sold on the idea of becoming a vegetarian but confused as to what to eat? Here are our plant-based meal suggestions to help you plan your meals for a seamless transition from your normal routine.
We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Start your day right with healthy breakfast cereal or a nutritious avocado toast that is sure to keep you full.
Avocado toast: 2 slices of whole-grain bread, mashed avocado, red-pepper flakes, and a dash sea salt.
Complete the meal with a cup of coffee made with Nature’s Superfoods coconut palm sugar.
Lunchtime is the perfect time to get your energy fix with a protein-fuelled meal. To avoid food comas that are a hindrance to work productivity, opt for something light yet satiating.
Asian Quinoa Salad: Nature’s Superfoods Organic white quinoa(cooked), carrots, cilantro, cucumber, edamame, ginger, green onion, red bell pepper, red cabbage, tamari sauce, salt, black pepper, sesame seeds, and rice wine vinegar.
There are several reasons why sugar is our biggest enemy – from energy spikes to aging, processed sugars are a no-go when attempting to lead a healthy lifestyle. Healthier snacks and sugar alternatives are thus your best bet.
Try snacking on: Nature’s Superfoods Organic Sun-Dried Apricots or Organic Goji-berries
There is an old saying, “Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.” This is not to say that you should skip your dinner. Instead, opt for something nutritious yet easy on your digestive tract.
Muesli Porridge with Cashew Milk: Water, soaked cashew nuts, and Nature’s Superfoods Muesli Porridge, topped with a banana.
Ice-creams, candy bars, shaved ice, the list of desserts is endless, and so is its amount of sugar. Leave out processed desserts and make one to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Frozen banana “ice cream”: Blend a frozen banana in a blender with a touch of almond milk until it resembles a soft serve. Top it with chopped/crushed Nature’s Superfoods Sacha Inchi Seeds.
Like other meal-planning approaches for weight loss, a plant-based diet can reduce the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes and other health conditions. Up the ante by not only eating plant-based but also eating organic foods. For more healthy alternatives and nutritionally dense foods, check our organic food store in Singapore.