Studies show that less than 3 percent of Americans live a healthy lifestyle, yet according to a poll conducted by NPR about 75 percent of U.S. adults ranked their diets as good, very good or excellent. That’s a significant disparity, but the truth lies in the numbers – the most recent estimates show 36 percent of U.S. adults are obese and nearly half of all Americans have at least one chronic disease.
So why do so many people think they’re eating healthy when they aren’t? Much of it is clever marketing. Consumers see a product on the shelf, like granola bars, for example, with a shiny sticker stating “Whole Grains,” or “100 Natural,” and are fooled into thinking these sugar-loaded, preservative-laden products are actually healthy.
Vegetarian Whole Foods Diet vs. Processed Foods
Processed foods may be convenient, but they aren’t doing your body any favors. Most of us would love to be able to stay healthy on a diet of salty snacks and sugary desserts, but we know it just doesn’t work that way, despite what marketers tell us. It’s a plant-based, whole foods diet (not a processed vegetarian version) that allows us to enjoy the highest quality life possible, and that keeps us trim and disease-free.
The body is able to recognize whole foods as a source of energy to break down. On the other hand, foods that are processed require the body to decipher what it needs to do with them, to use what it can, and to detoxify the rest. When you eat a lot of processed, animal-based foods, your body has to work harder, which can make you feel tired and sluggish, and increase your risk for illness and disease.
Benefits of a Whole Foods Diet
An Increased Lifespan
A longer life, free of disease, is the best benefit one can get from switching to a vegetarian whole foods diet, as multiple studies have shown, including research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The largest study of its kind, found that those who follow a vegetarian diet had a 12 percent lower risk of dying over those who eat meat.
The less work your body has to do, the more energy it can provide you. When you eliminate animal products and chemical-filled processed foods from your diet, it lightens the workload on your entire system. The foods we need for energy are naturally provided from the Earth, and are filled with fiber and plant-based proteins that contain essential amino acids, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats – all of which keep your body energized.
Dramatic Improvements in Cholesterol, Weight and Diabetic Symptoms
As mentioned above, the truth really is in the numbers. A 2017 New Zealand study found that eating a whole foods, plant-based diet helps to lower cholesterol, promote weight loss, and fight type-2 diabetes. Published in the journal Nutrition and Diabetes, the participants lost an average of over 25 pounds by switching to a diet that excluded animal foods, including meat, eggs and dairy, as well as refined oils. In addition to the significant weight loss, after following the diet for one year, participants reduced their waist circumference by an average of 3.5 inches, and their medication use by an average of 29 percent.
If you’re eating meat and highly processed foods, you’re likely to have elevated levels of inflammation. Chronic inflammation is associated with multiple types of disease and painful symptoms, like arthritic joint pain. Those who adopt a vegetarian, whole foods diet can significantly lower their level of C-reactive protein, and in so doing, they will experience less pain and enhanced healing.
As a vegetarian whole foods diet is naturally loaded with fiber (the most important nutrient for healthy digestion), it won’t be long before your digestive system is back on track. You should experience less gas and bloating, and enhanced bowel regularity.
Benefits Can Be Reaped Within Just a Week or Two
As humans, most of us want to experience a positive impact from making a major lifestyle change now, not at some point in the unforeseeable future. The good news is that even in the short term, there are a wealth of benefits that nearly everyone enjoys after transforming their diets to one that’s focused on whole, plant-based foods. Within a couple of weeks you should start to experience more energy, enhanced mental clarity, and greater productivity. You will also sleep better, shed some weight, and both look and feel younger!