5 Reasons to Eat a Plant-Rich Diet
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. That’s why food is the smartest, easiest, most effective way of bringing about real, visible, life change. And based on years of research and experimentation, we believe our plant-rich program is the best strategy for optimal wellness.
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. It’s sort of like a vegan diet, but we don’t get caught up with labels. A plant-based diet done Sakara-style leaves enough room for the occasional indulgence—a martini, French fries, hamburgers, birthday cake and ice cream. 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 awhile.
Let’s 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. 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. 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 key 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 an excess 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 inside—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. With Sakara, green is 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 gastroenterologist 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."
Greens are the true workhorses of the plant-based food 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.
The facts are that a slew of research shows that 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 a plant-based 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. 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. The experts have spoken. Plants are the key to a long, healthy, vibrant life.
5. An Organic, Plant-Based Diet is Clean and Close 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. Which brings us to another essential point of a plant-based diet: Organic is 100% the way to go. Organic food is food that is grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers, chemical pesticides, and insecticides, growth hormones or antibiotics. Since it hasn’t been genetically modified or doused in pesticides, it won’t pollute your body with chemicals. One example cites a study performed in Washington, featuring children ages 3-11, which demonstrated the level changes of pesticides in their blood-work after mere days of switching from conventional to organic vegetables. According to the Environmental Working Group, eating an organic diet can reduce your pesticide level by a staggering 90%. And it’s tastier and more nutritious, too. A win-win.
Finally, 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 piece of cake 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 now and then. That’s the beauty of this way of life.