I’ve been on a plant-based lifestyle for almost a year now and I cannot begin to say how beneficial this lifetime decision has been to my all round health. Those regular visits to the doctor have become a thing of the past, the backaches I used to experience have totally disappeared, sinusitis and respiratory ailments totally gone, over 20kgs lost in weight, I could go on and on…
The journey has been one of discipline and commitment to myself. Commitment to myself because I understand that I have a higher purpose ahead of me which I must stay true to. Commitment because I realize that I would need to be fit and healthy to accomplish the work that’s ahead of me. With this in mind I do not just pledge to a plant-based lifestyle but to a lifestyle where the quality of whatever goes into my mouth matters. Living in Nigeria though, this has its challenges especially when you’re attending social functions. Vegans like me would know what I’m talking about. No one takes special dietary requirements into consideration when planning parties… and I’m often left with the dilemma of “do I pack my own food, or should I eat before I go, so that I’m not hungry and forced to eat what I’m offered or simply, should I just stay at home???” This has put me in an awkward situation many times that I end up eating the puff puff and mosa or ojojo or even the coleslaw with loads of mayonnaise …and of course I leave feeling bad and have to detox the following morning.
So what’s really in this lifestyle where your diet is made predominantly on vegetables, fruits, grains, seeds, nuts, legumes (beans). Is it worth considering over other choices? I’ve done a bit of research (it’s a continuous thing) and I’m a living witness!
A plant based lifestyle will help you enjoy an improved quality of life. Here are some of the benefits-
1. Improve Your Digestion
Plants are amazing because they’re naturally full of fiber and fiber is the key to good digestion. Fiber helps add bulk to your stool, while also helping to regulate things and help everything eliminate smoothly.
One thing to keep in mind: if you’re new to this diet, go slow with your fiber intake. If you aren’t accustomed to eating a lot of fiber, it can actually do the opposite (block you up). So, ease in slowly!
2. Reduce Your Risk for Chronic Disease
People with diets that are full of meat, dairy and processed foods have a higher risk for chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
Plant-based eaters, on the other hand, experience the opposite effect. People who follow a plant-based diet have reportedly lower cases of many common chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease, some types of cancer (colorectal being one!), Alzheimer’s, and others. So if you’re concerned about chronic disease or they run in your family, switching to a plant-based diet is definitely a good idea!
3. Naturally Boost Your Energy
Plants are super high in vitamins and minerals which are amazing for energy! They’re rich in antioxidants, phytonutrients and often times healthy fats and protein, all of which are amazing for your brain and mood. Not only that but since plants are also easier to digest, which gives our body extra energy to spend. Plant-based foods are also amazing for performance. That’s why you’re seeing more and more professional athletes talk about being plant-based!
4. Get Healthy Skin, Hair & Nails
I’ve had people say to me how well I’m looking and ask what my secret is. I’m a firm believer that what we put into our bodies is what shows on the outside. And again, because plants are so full of vitamins and minerals, they’re particularly amazing for your skin. Meat, dairy, and processed foods have all been shown to cause inflammation in the body and many times inflammation can show in our skin.Now does that mean just by going vegan your skin is going to miraculously clear up? Potentially, but it might take some time. Be patient.
5. Lose Weight Effortlessly
A lifestyle of fruits, veggies and whole grains will set you on the right path to losing and maintaining a healthy weight. These foods are more nutrient-dense than processed food and they also have a lower calorie to volume ratio. Basically, if you ate the same weight/volume of food (i.e. 200 grams) and compared how much room it takes up in your stomach, plants would be significantly less. That means that you fill up more quickly on plant-based foods while eating fewer calories.
And if you’re thinking… “but I might not get enough nutrients!” I’d argue that you’re likely getting more nutrients when you eat this way. You’ll just have to make sure that you’re still getting enough proteins and healthy fats from your beans, seeds, nuts, and other plant sources.