Plant-based Diet to Improve Your Lifestyle
A change in your eating patterns will require lots of time and effort.Studies have shown that to achieve a healthy and balanced lifestyle, you should consume at least 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Additionally, you should incorporate 150 minutes of exercise each week. As you switch to a plant-based diet, it will be easy to achieve the number of nutrients required.
Plant-based consumption focuses on foods that come primarily from plants. People are starting to switch to this way of eating due to their health, environment, and animal cruelty concerns.
Some people prefer to consume plant-based foods alone, while others opt to add animal products occasionally.
Even so, nutritionists believe that a plant-based diet can bear tons of health benefits. It is also a useful alternative in minimizing your intake of processed foods.
There are four types of plant-based diets. This article will help you know their differences, including the good and bad effects they can bring to your overall wellness.
Principles of Plant-based Diet
There is a plant-based diet and a whole-foods, plant-based diet. The former is not necessarily a diet at all, but more of a lifestyle. Whole foods contain natural foods without heavily processed, refined, or minimally refined ingredients. It may appear complicated, but these types of plant-based diets have few differences from each other. Both diets prohibit any animal products, including dairy, seafood, eggs, and meat.
In a whole-foods, plant-based diet (WFPB), people consume whole grains, fruits, vegetables, starchy vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes. The focus is on whole, natural foods that come from the earth.
In a plant-based diet, the focus is on plant-based foods, but not necessarily only whole food items. Tolerated foods include oils, processed foods, and non-whole grains that wouldn’t be included in a WFPD diet.
Again, these two types of plant-based diets do not go far from each other, and both have an open-ended definition. Thus, people apply it differently in their own lifestyle. If you are wondering how to begin your plant-based diet, you may start off familiarizing yourself with its fundamental principles:
- Majority of what you eat is composed of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, seeds, and nuts.
- Limit or avoid eating animal products.
- Focus on whole, minimally processed foods.
- Cut out refined and processed foods.
- Put high regards on foods sourced locally.
Four Types of Plant-based Diets
People experience the plant-forwarding eating patterns differently. If you are interested in applying such a lifestyle, below are the types of plant-based diets you should know.
Among other types of plant-based diets, it limits the consumption of meat and fish. This food group is subdivided into three: First, the Lacto-Ovo vegetarians. Individuals under this type of plant-based diet include eggs and dairy in their diet. Second, the Ovo-vegetarians. This group consumes eggs but avoids dairy. Lastly, the Lacto-vegetarians, comprising of people who eat dairy foods yet remove eggs.
It is also known as the semi-vegetarian diet. People who follow the flexitarian way of eating consume meat and poultry occasionally. From the name itself, it is about flexible eating. However, it contains guidelines about how much meat you can take. This way, you can draw the line clearly from an omnivore diet that allows people to eat meat as much as they want. If you plan to start-off your flexitarian journey, you may follow this direction:
- Beginner: 6–8 meatless meals/ 21 total meals each week
- Advanced: 9–14 meatless meals/ 21 total meals each week
- Expert: 15+ meatless meals/21 total meals each week
It is the closest type of diet that meets the usual definition of a plant-based meal. People who follow this diet consume foods containing plants alone. Their lifestyle is mostly anchored on the belief of refusing everything that roots from animal exploitation and cruelty, which may include the food they eat, the clothes they wear, and any products they purchase. For others, they switch to veganism for sustainable purposes. A vegan diet is rich in various nutrients yet low in saturated fats. Among the foods included in their meals are plenty of fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds.
Compared to other types of plant-based diets, veganism is more restrictive. Although it offers lots of health benefits, there are some essential nutrients that a vegan diet cannot provide, so it is vital to seek your doctor’s advice before starting so they can recommend you the right supplements. Among the nutrients that may be low in this type of plant-based diet include vitamin B12, iron, calcium, vitamin D, omega-3, iodine, and zinc.
Studies have shown that a pescatarian diet is better than a vegan diet. For instance, it offers a lesser risk of nutritional deficiencies. People who follow this type of plant-based diet restrict meat yet include fish and other aquatic animals. Sometimes, people call it Pesco-vegetarian as it is an easy way to modify vegetarianism. Additionally, it does not have any rules or restrictions about the amount of seafood allowed to eat. Here, you can eat fruits and vegetables, grains, seafood, dairy products, and eggs. However, red meats, poultry, and wild game are discouraged.
Benefits and Harm of Plant-based Diet
Studies have shown that the above mentioned types of plant-based diets help fight chronic conditions. People who have adopted this lifestyle say that their life becomes healthier and sustainable. There is also research that indicates more of its health benefits, such that:
- It increases your fiber consumption.
- It lowers your cholesterol levels.
- It reduces your risk of cancers, diabetes, and obesity.
- It can save you from potential stroke and high blood pressure.
- It decreases body inflammation and helps you manage your weight.
Oppositely, each among the types of plant-based diets also prompted concerns regarding nutritional deficiencies. Among its criticisms include its difficulty to provide the right amount of protein, iron, calcium, and vitamin B12, which are abundant in animal sources.
Further, there have been food poisoning cases, particularly in the pescatarian diet because of too much mercury found in seafood. Eating fish high in mercury like king mackerel, orange roughy, swordfish, and ahi tuna is not advisable for children and breastfeeding women. Mercury can harm your immunity, including your digestive and nervous systems.
When to Adopt A Plant-based Diet?
Indeed, the body needs a proper amount of plant-based foods for optimal health and nutrition. However, if you wonder when is the right time to switch your eating habits, there is no right answer. Each individual requires different nutrients and a different diet for their own lifestyle. If you want to guarantee that you will avoid deficiency and ensure that you get the right vitamins and minerals for your body, it is best to consult with your healthcare providers first.