5 Reasons You Should Be Eating a Plant-Based Diet
While we’re not big on diets in the traditional sense, we do talk about one type of diet quite a bit: the plant-based diet, arguably the best diet of all. And while obsessing over food certainly isn’t our style, we do adhere to the belief that food is important — really important. After all, we are woven by the foods we eat. It builds our bodies from the inside out, powers our each and every move and inspires us to turn our thoughts into things. Food also has the power to be our biggest ally in the fight against illness…or our greatest enemy. Because of all that, food is the smartest, easiest, most effective way of bringing about real, visible, total-life change. And based on years of research and experimentation, we believe a plant-based diet is the best strategy for optimal wellness.
If food is that essential to our longevity, happiness and fulfillment (and trust us — it is), we definitely want to make sure we’re eating the best possible stuff. And if you are what you eat, don’t you want to be a vibrant, beautiful, living, breathing, thriving thing? Hence, the plant-based diet: Your ticket to becoming your healthiest, most creative, most vital self.
For the uninitiated, the plant-based diet is one that relies mostly on plant foods, like leafy greens, hydrating fruits and veggies, whole grains, nuts and seeds. So it’s sort of like a vegan diet, but let’s not get caught up with labels. You see, a plant-based diet done Sakara-style leaves just enough room for the occasional indulgences of your choice — martinis, French fries, hamburgers, birthday cake and ice cream included. Eat the good stuff most of the time and not only will you be nurturing your organs and systems with all the nutrients you need (and nothing processed, artificial or toxic, i.e. stuff you don’t need), but your body will be well equipped to handle the not-so-good-for-you (but oh-so-goooood) stuff once in a while. But lets dig a little deeper — read on for our five favorite reasons to eat a plant-based diet.
1) Plants are jam-packed with nutrients.
Your life is abundant, right? And while you wouldn’t have it any other way, free time isn’t exactly something you have in excess. So one reason we love plant-based foods is that they’re nutrient dense and therefore incredibly efficient. Think about it: milk for calcium, meat for protein…many animal-based foods center on a single nutrient. But a plant-based diet relies on foods that are the total package. For instance, take kale, one of our favorite leafy greens. It provides protein (3g per cup!), Vitamin A, Vitamin C, sulfur, calcium and ALA, an omega-3 fatty acid that’s important for brain health. This is what optimizing mealtime is all about. Eating nutrient-dense plant-based foods is simply the most efficient, nutritious way to eat.
In addition to providing you with a plethora of must-have nutrients, plants afford you the opportunity to do one of our favorite things: Eat the rainbow. Brightly-colored fruits and vegetables get their vibrant hues from the powerful antioxidants and phytochemicals they contain — plant-based compounds that neutralize free radicals to fend off disease, give you a bright, youthful complexion and more. By eating plenty of colors, you can be sure you’re getting the wide variety of nutrients you need.
2) Greens, in particular, are the secret to head-to-toe wellness.
We can’t talk about eating plant based without talking about greens — when you’re living the Sakara Life, green becomes your favorite color! Eating four to six cups of leafy greens every day is important for so many reasons. Just listen to what Dr. Robynne Chutkan, integrative gastroeterologist and author of The Microbiome Solution, Gutbliss and The Bloat Cure, has to say about eating greens: "If you asked me to recommend the one thing that would have the biggest impact on the health of your gut and skin, it would be to eat as many leafy green vegetables as you can. If you want to encourage the growth of good bacteria, heal inflammation, improve motility, crowd out parasites, eliminate yeast, get rid of belly fat, balance your pH, quiet your irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), cut your risk of colon cancer in half, boost your energy, lose weight, banish your bloat, and really glow from the inside out, then the single most important thing you need to do is eat greens every single day. Leafy greens are the embodiment of food as medicine." Wow.
Greens are the true workhorses of the plant-based eating world, providing essential minerals like magnesium and calcium, along with potassium (so important for healthy blood pressure), folate (essential for healthy pregnancy), antioxidants, fiber and even protein in one leafy, satisfying package. In fact, greens are particularly important if you’re eating a plant-based diet, since many of the nutrients they provide are commonly found in animal-based foods (like iron and calcium, for instance). And eating greens is the key to a healthy microbiome, which is linked to greater overall health. All that said, loading up on greens is one of the challenges of transitioning to a plant-based diet, at least at first. This might be more greens than you’re used to. But when you stick with it, soon you’ll want to shout it from the rooftops just like we do…because it’s where the most amazing results come from. Say it with us: Green is GOOD!
3) Plant foods let you EAT your water, not just drink it.
We’re all for drinking lots of water for optimal health, but here’s yet another reason to love plant foods: They’re an excellent way to hydrate. When you bite into a juicy slice of watermelon or refreshing cucumber, each molecule of water is bound up within the structure of that fruit or vegetable. The result is that your body gets to enjoy deep, sustained hydration on a cellular level. As a bonus, you don’t run the risk of drinking too much water (yes, it’s possible) and inadvertently flushing out all the vital nutrients you’ve already taken in from food. Eating your water is one of the Sakara secrets to a youthful, dewy, glowing complexion — just try it and see.
4) A plant-based diet is scientifically proven to prevent and even reverse disease.
We know from experience that eating plant-based works; we see and feel the radical effects every day in the form of clearer skin, more energy, better moods, improved immunity, optimal digestion and the best bodies of our lives. But we’re not alone in this — science backs us up. There have been numerous research studies over the years linking plant-based diets to overall wellness, longevity and even the prevention and reversal of disease. This is powerful stuff!
Research shows a plant-based diet has been connected to lower risk of cancer, heart disease and autoimmune disorders like colitis and arthritis, as well as fewer fertility problems. In fact, in his groundbreaking research on plant-based eating and heart disease, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn found that this lifestyle reversed coronary artery disease in the majority of patients studied. He goes as far as to call heart disease “a food-borne illness,” and believes it need not exist, if people would only switch to eating plant based (…woah). And as a result of the monumental China-Cornell-Oxford Project, which looked at mortality rates due to chronic disease in various parts of China over a 20-year period (and resulted in the seminal book The China Study), Dr. T. Colin Campbell came to the conclusion that people who ate mostly plants were without question the healthiest overall. Take it from the experts — plants are the key to a long, healthy, vibrant life.
5) An organic, plant-based diet is clean and close to Mama Earth.
When it comes to what you eat, stick close to the source. Think about it — an organic carrot pulled straight from the dirt is a lot closer to Mama Earth than a box of artificially-flavored, additive-riddled breakfast cereal. Skip the highly processed foods in favor of stuff that looks exactly like what it is, and reap real benefits. Ever heard that tip about sticking to the perimeter of the grocery store, where the whole foods are found, rather than delving into the aisles of packaged, processed stuff? Yeah, we second that.
It’s not only because fresh produce is simply better for you—sugary, refined, processed foods cause dangerous inflammation in the body, and inflammation is the root cause of a whole host of scary diseases. Clean, fresh, real food provides you with all the nutrients you need to thrive, without clogging your system with junk. Furthermore, a healthy diet will help cleanse your system of the not-so-good stuff by regulating digestion and supporting your liver. (What can’t plants do?!) Which brings us to another essential point of a plant-based diet: Organic is 100% the way to go. Organic produce hasn’t been genetically modified or doused in pesticides, so it won’t pollute your body with chemicals. And it’s tastier and more nutritious, too. Win-win!
In closing, a note on balance: There’s a very good reason this is one of the foundational concepts of the Sakara Life meal delivery program (and it also explains why we always take the weekend off!). While we could extol the virtues of a plant-based diet all day long, we’re of the mind that true wellness is achieved when your body, mind and soul are in balance. We believe that you are what you do the majority of the time, and when it comes to food, that means we stick primarily to a plant-based diet, because we’ve discovered that this is how you get transformational results that last.
However, our philosophy leaves just enough wiggle room so that we never feel deprived, restrained or like we’re on some kind of diet diet. The occasional cheese plate, burger or ice cream cone won’t hurt you. In fact, if it brings you joy, it’ll do just the opposite. And like we said, when you’re pampering your insides with fresh, healing, living food most of the time, you can handle a splurge every now and again. That’s the beauty of this meal delivery program, and this way of life.