You don't have to adopt a strict vegetarian or vegan diet to enjoy the benefits of plant-based foods. You're probably (hopefully!) consuming some plant-based foods in your diet already, like fresh fruits and vegetables; beans, peas, and lentils; and various grains.
These nutrient-packed foods all work to boost your health and well-being naturally.
Here are 10 changes you can look forward to when you start eating more fresh, plant-based foods.
1. You'll have less heartburn and indigestion.
If you're regularly consuming meat-based dishes served with rich sauces, you might find yourself experiencing heartburn and indigestion. As we get older, it becomes more difficult to digest foods that are heavy in oils and fat. Many people find fresh salads and lightly steamed vegetables are easier to digest, and these foods are less likely to irritate a sensitive stomach.
2. High blood sugar levels will start to come down and stabilize.
Taking medication to manage diabetes and high blood sugar levels? If so, eating more plant-based foods can help you keep your blood sugar levels under control naturally. Over time, this may allow you to reduce your dosage of blood-sugar lowering medication. And if you don't have diabetes, your health will still benefit from maintaining more stable and moderate blood sugar levels.
3. You'll start sleeping more deeply.
Trouble falling asleep? Tossing and turning all night? It's hard for your body to go into deep, restful sleep when it's working hard to digest your last meal. Unlike heavier meat proteins that require more time to digest, vegetables move through your digestive tract quickly. A light, plant-based dinner means you won't be going to bed with a full stomach, so you'll sleep better and wake up feeling refreshed.
4. You'll have more energy and an improved feeling of health and well-being.
As you consume more fresh, plant-based foods, you'll notice your energy picks up. And with the intake of more essential vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, you'll experience an overall sense of greater health and well-being as all of your body systems get tuned-up. This improvement is especially noticeable if you also cut back on energy-zapping foods like highly processed prepared dinners and snacks.
Important: if you're cutting back on meat, make sure you're still getting enough protein to keep you healthy and energized — think beans, peas, lentils, and nuts, combined with some healthy whole grains like brown rice and whole wheat bread.
5. You'll lose excess weight and change your body composition.
Fresh vegetables — leafy greens in particular — are the perfect food for anyone who wants to lose weight. These foods boost your metabolism and trigger fat-burning processes, leading to a naturally leaner body composition. The high-nutrient content of plant vegetables signals to the brain that the body is adequately taken care of nutritionally, a key component in appetite regulation. Leafy greens also tend to be low in calories, so there's no need to restrict yourself to tiny servings. You can eat full-sized portions that leave you feeling satisfied and still lose weight.
6. You'll experience less constipation.
Plant-based foods are high in fibre, the component that gives plants their structure and strength. Fibre is essential for healthy digestion, and provides bulk to help ensure regular bowel movements without straining.
7. Nagging health issues will start to clear up.
Skin issues, headaches, and hormone-related issues like premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and menopausal hot flashes can all be triggered or exacerbated by the foods you eat. Processed foods with lots of salt, sugar, and chemical additives are common culprits. Eating more plant-based foods can help with the management of these conditions, in some cases eliminating issues completely.
8. Your taste buds will change.
Our taste buds adapt to whatever we eat most often. Processed foods with amped up, artificial flavouring lead to a desensitization of our taste buds. When you consume more plant-based foods, your taste buds adjust and you start to appreciate the natural flavours found in these foods. As you grow accustomed to the natural sweetness of fruits, for instance, you'll find they satisfy your sweet tooth just as much as any sugary treat, without triggering the urge to overeat.
9. You'll feel better mentally and emotionally.
Many of the vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients found in plant-based foods are difficult, in some cases even impossible, to get from animal foods. These nutrients provide nourishment to every part of your body, including your brain, where they support a wide range of brain-based biochemical reactions. More plant-based foods won't just benefit you physically; you'll feel mentally sharper, emotionally more stable, and less prone to mood swings.
10. You'll experience increased spiritual clarity.
For many people, consuming more plant-based foods has an unexpected, positive spiritual impact. In the same way that getting out in nature can be grounding and spiritually beneficial, consuming more "living" foods such as fresh fruit, fresh herbs, and raw vegetables has a similar effect. It brings you closer to the earth and the way our ancestors ate before the advent of factory farming and factory-processed foods. Don't be surprised to find yourself feeling clearer, calmer, and more tuned-in spiritually as you increase your intake of fresh, wholesome, natural plant foods.
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