Considering A Whole Food Plant-Based Diet? Read This First
If you're considering a plant-based whole food diet to improve health it's important to know what to eat for optimal health and nutrition.
Updated March 3, 2019 - 8 Min Read
If you're considering a plant-based diet, there are several things you should know before getting started. Because the food we eat can either prevent disease or cause it, it's worth knowing the foods that promote health and the ones are making us sick. Armed with this education will prepare you for success in getting started with a plant-based whole food diet and lifestyle.
Diet and Lifestyle Affect Our Genes
Nutrigenomics is the term coined for how nutrition and the food we eat affects our genetic make-up. Our genes may predispose us to certain diseases, but just because a family history of a disorder exists doesn't mean we're destined to receive it.
Lifestyle and dietary choices impact our health more than the genes we inherit. Our daily habits and behaviors determine whether specific genes are turned on or off. As Caldwell Esselstyn puts it, "Genetics loads the gun and lifestyle pulls the trigger."
Reasons for Going Plant-Based
Have a look at the following list of health issues. Do you suffer from any of them? Preventing and reversing disease is just one of many reasons to get started with a plant-based whole food diet.
- Heart Disease
- Diabetes Mellitus
- Joint Pain
- Erectile Dysfunction
- Acid Reflux
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Auto Cardiovascular Disease
- Cysts or Tumors
Since you're reading this article, I imagine there is a change in your life you're trying to make. No matter your goal, lose weight, increase health span, prevent and reverse disease, or look and feel better, a plant-based whole food diet can help you achieve it. Numerous studies point to correlations with protein-rich diets and a higher incidence of disease. The findings show that people who eat a predominantly vegetable diet while reducing their animal intake and processed foods can prevent and reverse poor health conditions. In summary, if you want to follow the healthiest diet for humans, it's time to consider going plant-based.
Is Plant-Based Just the Latest Diet Fad?
There is no denying that interest in health and nutrition has increased significantly, but using food as a tool to enhance your health is not a new trend. Hippocrates taught us to let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.
Powerful words that are more apparent today than ever before. The majority of the chronic illnesses and lifestyle-related diseases we suffer from today are a direct result of our poor food choices.
Sadly, our ancestors wouldn't recognize the majority of items passed off as food today. We're more disconnected with where our food comes more than ever. This has taken a massive toll on our health. The busy lifestyles we lead have resulted in trading health for convenience, increasing demand for processed, packaged foods. Even the "healthy" food we eat travels great distances before it ever reaches our plate. Couple this with the decreased nutrient-density of the soil and the result is an overfed and undernourished population of today.
Have you ever paused to question how it's possible to enjoy blueberries in the middle of winter and year-round access to exotic fruits and vegetables? Food today is big business. Large CPG and food production companies are consistently looking for ways to reduce the cost of ingredients and prolong shelf-life as a way to increase margins. A priority on profits compromises the nutritional integrity of the food we eat and has taken a toll on our health. The result is 2/3rd of Americans being overweight, with 1/3rd considered obese. But obesity isn't the only issue. Autism, auto-immune disorders, cardiovascular disease, and numerous other preventable illnesses are all on the rise.
For much of human history, finding food required a significant amount of energy and skill. Today, however, it doesn't take much effort at all. Food is everywhere, and it's on demand at the click of a button. Access to quick and convenient foods isn't likely to change any time soon but what can change is the decisions you make. Every purchase you make is a vote in support of our food system as it exists, or a conscious decision to incite change. Never underestimate the Power of the Fork!
If you're ready to take back control of your health, it's imperative to make better food choices. And to not get lost in all the misinformation about diet and nutrition, you're going to need a set of principles to follow. More effective than any specific diet is a simple set of guidelines best summed up by Michael Pollen who says, "Eat real food, mostly plants, not too much." Or in other words, it's time to adopt a whole food plant-based diet and lifestyle.
A Plant-Based Whole Food Diet is not Vegan
So you do not want to be vegan, but you want the benefits of a plant-based diet
. You may not be ready to give up meat entirely, and that's ok. It's easy to confuse a Whole Food Plant-Based Diet with a Vegan Diet. Although some vegans follow a WFPB diet, they are not the same. We consider those healthful vegans.
The following are key differences between WFPB and veganism.
A lot of vegans choose the lifestyle for humanitarian reasons. Vegans avoid all animal products such as honey and leather clothing. But with regards to food, their selections might not always be healthy. They can eat lots of processed foods like white flour, soft drinks, candy and any number of extremely unhealthy foods.
- Whole Food Plant Based:
An individual who follows a WFPB diet avoids overly unhealthy foods and focuses on plants and complete, nutrient-dense foods. A WFPB diet includes veggies, fruits, ancient grains, legumes, nuts and seeds and natural sweeteners such as honey and maple syrup. WFPB is a healthful vegan diet as opposed to an unhealthy one.
A vegan diet emphasizes what it removes, whereas a WFPB diet plan showcases the food it highlights: a massive variety of nutrient-rich whole foods. The term complete, in WFPB, describes minimally processed foods, recognizable in their pure, natural form.
Simple Rules to Follow When Considering a Plant-Based Whole Food Diet
The beauty of adopting a whole food plant-based diet is you don't need a computer to count carbs or calories. Yes, it's true that a caloric deficit will help you lose weight but eating this way shouldn't require deprivation. Just by changing the type of food you eat, you'll be amazed at how incredible you feel and how your body magically starts to transform.
On a WFPBD there is no requirement to avoid cooked foods. Convenience isn't your enemy. You can enjoy frozen vegetables and fruits, in addition to their canned counterparts (be mindful of BPA-free cans and avoid added salts, syrups, and chemicals). Blandness isn't a prerequisite. You are encouraged to experiment with as many spices as you want. You'll be surprised by the diversity of flavors and recipe combinations that is achieved with plant-based options. And, contrary to common belief, a WFPB diet will not break your budget. Many of your trusty staples are among the most economical foods at the grocery store. This diet doesn't involve specialization things hidden in the health food section. It requires no pails of agave or carts of cashews.
Where to Get Plant-Based Nutrition Guidance
If you would like nutrition info, asking your doctor may not be the best place to start. If you're serious about advancing your health knowledge, start with free online resources like NutritionFacts.org and Plant-Based News. The average amount of nutritional education most doctors receive is less than 20 hours in an entire four years of medical school. The majority of physicians don't take a single class dedicated to nutrition because medical schools do not require them. Doctors intrigued about advancing their nutritional acumen must take courses on their own, independent of their primary curriculum. Most physicians are already focused on a specific specialty, leaving little time or interest for additional nutrition education. But all hope is not lost. There is a growing number of physicians taking the time to invest in expanding their knowledge of nutrition and using it in practice. It's up to you to be proactive and seek one out.
Finding a doctor who recognizes nutrition as an important factor in health is step one. Step two is finding one that promotes a Complete Whole Food Plant Based diet and uses it as a form of treatment and preventative medicine. To make your search a little easier, you can start by using the Plant-Based Doctor website
to find a plant-based doc near you. The medical professionals at the forefront of the plant-based movement will argue that it is time to move away from vegan and start talking about healthy, whole foods (mainly fruit and vegetables ) and minimizing meat, eggs, and dairy products.1
I've personally been studying nutrition for more than ten years. Learning about nutritional research and putting dietary theories into practice has always been a passion of mine. I'm fascinated by how diet can physically change us and directly impact the way we think, act, and feel. I'm a firm believer that a whole food plant-based diet is the secret to getting the most out of life.
My love for a healthy lifestyle and quest for optimal performance led me to pursue a plant-based nutrition certificate through the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition. I've put my education into practice in both life and business and have personally experimented with nearly every diet on the planet, but nothing compares to the results I've achieved with a WFPBD.
As I reflect on the start of my quest for better health, I remember the struggles I faced along the way. With so much information out there about nutrition, it can be tough to know what to listen to. Most individuals find it overwhelming, and confusing. After all, nutrition education isn't something we learn in school, and it's something that even our most trusted health advisors know very little about.
I'm motivated to share what I've learned about a plant-based whole food diet so that you too can experience the powerful transformation that occurs when you embrace a WFPB diet and lifestyle. This is why LYFE FUEL exists. Avoid making the same mistakes I faced when first going plant-based by enrolling in the LYFE TRANSFORMATION program. The program is a free resource that distills the best nutritional research into an actionable easy-to-follow 21-Day program. You may be wondering why it's free. It's free because I want you to experience the benefits of a plant-based whole food diet first-hand. It's free because for every person that embraces a WFPBD is another step toward a healthier planet and a more sustainable future.
Now it's time for action. Embrace The Power of the Fork to enhance your health, beginning by changing what's on your plate.
Fuel Up with Premium Plant-Based Nutrition
Getting started on a whole food plant-based diet is now easier than ever with LYFE FUEL's free nutrition course. The LYFE TRANSFORMATION program was created to help you make healthy and sustainable changes to amplify your health and empower you to live your fullest everyday. The 21-day program distills years of nutritional research and personal experimentation into an easy-to-follow program that will guide you along your journey toward better health & happiness.
Read Next: How to choose the right plant-based diet for your health.
Written by Chris Manderino
Co-Founder of LYFE FUEL in Newport Beach, CA. Chris was an NFL fullback for the Cincinnati Bengals and Kansas City Chiefs before embarking on a journey to pursue his passion for health & nutrition. Chris is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley and earned a completion certificate from the T. Colin Campbell Course in Plant-Based Nutrition.