What is a plant-based diet? The plant-based diet is derived from plant-based food sources such as legumes, grains, pulses, fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices. Apart from this, some animal products can also be taken under this diet, because some vitamins and antioxidants are not available to us from vegetarian things. There can be a partial component in this as well that some people might eat more plant-based foods with some animal-based products. This has given emergence to many plant-based types of meat being manufactured for the people on plant-based diets. Plant-based diets have shown to provide significant support to people in various life stages, such as pregnancy, lactation, and old age, to improve gut health. HOW TO START? Are you a hardcore non-vegetarian? It can be difficult for you to start a plant-based diet, so you should start it slowly to include it in your habit, such as eating less food and eating more salads, using vegetables in biryani etc., drinking lemon water or fruit juice in place of coffee and tea during the day. While in restaurants, you can follow the plant-based diet in the following manner. For example, order such things in restaurants where vegetables are more used. If you wish, you can also work by eating fruits, milk and pasta etc. These things are found everywhere.
Why do we need to add plant-based foods in our diets? Why is it essential for the body?
- Plant-based diets are healthier, nutrition-rich and light on our tummy. They include all the elements of a balanced diet as well—the use of additional hormones etc. Which is found in animal sources of foods, are not present in plant-based diets, which makes them ideal for our overall health.
- People who consume more plant-based foods tend to have a lighter BMI and avoid lifestyle diseases like diabetes, hypertension, hormonal imbalances and even diseases like cancer. It’s not just right to include more and more plant-based foods in our diet, it is in fact, a need of the hour.
- The plant-based diet is very beneficial for your health. Vegetables and fruits give you all the vitamins, minerals and proteins that your body needs. It can be a bit difficult in the beginning. But you will start to like it gradually. You can experiment with vegetables and make them fun like mixing lots of vegetables in chow mein, pasta, poha etc.
Ten best natural plant food sources
Some of the best natural plant food sources would include-
- Legumes: Such as beans, lentils, pulses, gram etc. Initially, you should use beans in your diet. Legumes can be made by mixing in any food. They are delicious as well as healthy, and eating them keeps your stomach full for a long time. In the beginning, you should take about 1,000 calories of your daily needs from cereals, legumes and vegetables and you can take the rest of the calories from milk, buttermilk, eggs or even a little meat.
- Whole grains: A whole grain contains the germ, bran, and endosperm in contrast to refined grains, which retain only the endosperm. As part of a generally healthy diet, whole grains' consumption is linked with a lower risk of many conditions. Examples are whole wheat, brown rice, quinoa, millets, barley etc.
- Soya: Soya products such as tofu is a species of legume widely grown for its numerous uses and edible bean. The traditional food of soybeans includes soy milk, from which tofu skin are made. It also contains fermented bean paste, soy sauce, tempeh and nattō.
- Coconut products ( coconut cream, milk etc.): Coconut is the fruit of the Cocos nucifera. It's used for its milk, water and oil. Coconuts grown in tropical regions recently increased in popularity for their flavour, culinary uses, and potential health benefits.
- Vegetables and Fruits: They contain essential minerals, plant chemicals, vitamins and fibre. There are different kinds of vegetables and fruits available and many ways to cook, serve and prepare them.
- Seeds and nuts: Examples include Brazil nuts, almonds, hazelnuts, cashew nuts, pecans, macadamias, pistachios, walnuts and pine nuts. Do you know the nutrient of seeds is very similar to those of nuts?
- Nutritional Yeast: It is a type of Yeast which is sourced through plants and does the same work. It has a cheesy flavour as well.
- Cereals: Any grass cultivated for the edible components of its grain, composed of the germ, bran and endosperm.
- Herbs and Spices: It includes a lot of micronutrition such as coriander, cumin, fennel etc
- Nut Butters: Such as cashew butter, peanut butter, almond butter etc
What is the importance of a plant-based diet in our regular life?
- The plant-based diet is the best option for our regular life as it is not just healthy; it’s also extremely convenient to prepare and consume. It requires minimal effort and can serve as a healthy meal for all ages.
- It’s best for people who have been on a high meat diet and suffer for weak gut and mental health issues due to it—a must for people suffering from hormonal imbalances. Choose for organic plant-based products.
Plant-based diet mistakes
If you are also following or planning to pursue a plant-based diet, we tell you some common mistakes you need to avoid.
- Stay dehydrated: Water is essential to keep your body healthy and hydrated. In this case, if you are in a Vegan or Vegetarian Diet, then it is even more critical. Because you take too much fibre, you need a lot of water. If you do not take a sufficient amount of water, you may feel gas, bloating and other digestive problems due to its deficiency. Make sure you drink enough water and include hydrating foods in the diet to stay healthy.
- Protein deficiency and excess of carbohydrates: In the lack of a protein-rich meat-based diet, you may find it much easier to go overboard on carbs, and cruciferous vegetables. This is something that you have to be completely careful about. Not having enough protein can cause health problems in the long run. When following a plant-based diet, you should pack half of your food plate with carbs and protein.
- Avoidance of supplements: Vegetarian or plant-based diets can help you complete your health goals. But you need to add some essential food groups and nutrients to the diet for this. It is necessary to meet the deficiency of nutrients like vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin D and zinc, which cannot be absorbed entirely from fruits and vegetables.
FAQs related to a plant-based diet
- Here are some potential risks related to a plant-based diet: The main risk that a plant-based diet run is being an inadequate protein diet. However, this risk can be overrun by using the right kind of plant-based foods. It’s essential to plan your diet wisely and take expert advice.
- Who should avoid a plant-based diet, and why? Anyone can try a plant-based diet. Only in cases where people might be on Low Fodmap diet because of a weak gut can they avoid restricting themselves entirely on a plant-based diet. Otherwise, it’s open to all.
Conclusion: Staying on a plant-based diet is a healthy and good change for you. But when you are on a plant-based diet, you sometimes make some small mistakes. Your food as it is has the same effect on health. In such a situation, you often have to compromise with some things while following a diet. So if you are not taking a balanced diet consisting of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes and water, you can put yourself at risk for obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other health concerns.
(With inputs from Ms Preety Tyagi, Health Coach and Nutritionist, Founder My22BMI)
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