I am plant-based. I am not vegetarian and I am not vegan. Being plant-based means I choose to eat mostly vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains everyday. There are days I do not eat meat. But that is not a requirement to be plant-based. Some people find it easier to eat meat during 1 meal everyday. Although the portion of meat in relation to vegetables and grains is much smaller.
I decided to go plant-based many years ago for health reasons. I've always been concerned about my health. My father had a rare genetic disease and my mom avoided doctor's at all costs. In fact, I only went to the dentist a couple of times when I was a child because my mom did not take us. As a result, when I finally got health insurance as an adult, I had to have a root canal!
As I've aged, various health issues have cropped up. Borderline high blood pressure, dense breasts, weight gain and thyroid monitoring. I've never been a fan of pharmaceuticals. Luckily, I have a great set of doctor's who respect my choice to solve health concerns naturally. Also, I haven't been afraid to question, research and push back on their recommendations. I have truly been an advocate for my health. I know a lot of people just accept what a doctor tells them and in some cases, that is OK. Each of us has to decide how we will manage our health.
I've had great success following a plant-based lifestyle. My cholesterol levels are down, my weight has been stable for years and my energy has been through the roof. I've been very lucky that my health concerns have been very minor. Friends, family members and colleagues have had health issues ranging in severity. Some required surgery and/or pharmaceuticals to get through it. Others have been able to make lifestyle changes to reverse their diagnosis.
Following a plant-based lifestyle can help most of us avoid the most common illness and diseases. In fact, heart disease, some cancers, obesity and Type II Diabetes are reported to be diseases that are attributable to a lifestyle of the typical American diet. (Source: MedicineNet) As our society starts to recognize the impact our lifestyle choices have on our health, there is more interest in plant-based diets. Below are a few studies that support the beneficial effects of reversing disease by following a plant-based diet.
In 2006, a randomized clinical trial comparing a low-fat vegan diet with a diet based on the American Diabetes Association guidelines. People on the low-fat vegan diet reduced their Hemoglobin A1C levels (this is your average blood sugar levels) by 1.23 points, compared with 0.38 points for the people on the American Diabetes Association diet. In addition, 43% of people on the low-fat vegan diet were able to reduce their medication, compared with 26% of those on the American Diabetes Association diet. (Source: Vegetarian diets and childhood obesity prevention)
In 1999, the Lyon Diet Heart Study found that at 27 months, the participants experienced a 73% decrease in coronary events and a 70% decrease in all-cause mortality. The participants Mediterranean-style diet included more plant foods, vegetables, fruits, and fish than meat. Butter and cream were replaced with canola oil margarine. Canola oil and olive oil were the only fats recommended. (Source: The Lyon Diet Heart Study)
In 2007, a study of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) patients given the elemental diet (a liquid diet given under doctor supervision focusing on amino acids, vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, very little fat (less than 1%)) showed improvement in all clinical parameters of RA including early morning stiffness. Clinical parameters were improved by 20% in 72% patients in elemental diet group as compared to 78% in steroid group. The key finding was that a 2 week treatment with elemental diet is as effective as 15 mg/day of prednisolone in improvement of clinical parameters. Also, RA may start within the gut due to reaction to various food antigens. (Source: Is Rheumatoid Arthritis a disease that starts in the intestine?)
This is just a sampling of studies helping to prove the saying by Hippocrates "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." Notice how the studies are long-term, which means eating plant-based is a lifestyle approach not a quick fix. Are you are struggling with a disease or illness and feel frustrated that you haven't been getting better? Do you feel that the treatment you've received is worse than the disease? It is probably time to talk to a Holistic Nutritionist or a Naturopathic Doctor. To find a practitioner, go to the National Association of Nutrition Professionals (NANP).
Working with a Holistic professional reduces the amount of time you spend researching options on your own. You'll want to gather information about your condition from your current doctor. Holistic Nutritionists and Naturopathic Doctor's are used to reading medical diagnosis and charts. If you are uncomfortable asking your doctor for copies of your records, just come prepared with as much information as you can, including medications.
Part of the holistic process is to understand a person's total lifestyle, which is why it is a very different experience from seeing a medical specialist. Our medical system is designed to focus on parts of our bodies. It is not designed to look at the entire body and how each part is dependent upon the other. As a result, when a medical specialist treats one part of the body, physical ailments can be triggered in other parts.
Questions about family life, career, self-care, stress and the ailments you are facing are important when working with a holistic health professional. The plan created for you is customized to your lifestyle and belief system. A few examples of what might be included in your customized plan are: eating clean, whole foods, mostly plant-based, combined with other activities such as exercise, meditation, vitamins, herbs and journaling, just to name a few.
Can you benefit from a holistic health professional even if you don't have a specific ailment? Absolutely! Most of us have a health issue we would like to avoid. It could be as simple as supporting the immune system to eliminate allergies or avoid the flu vaccine. You may want to overcome osteoarthritis or increase energy levels. The scope of how a holistic professional can help you get healthy and stay healthy is endless.
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