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Starting Your Plant-Based Journey | Melissa Mondala MD

Learn the basic rules behind a plant-based diet and how this lifestyle can transform your overall health.

The Basics Of A Plant-Based Diet

To begin your plant-based journey, the first step is to learn the basics behind a plant-based diet. A plant-based diet, also The first step is to learn the basics behind a plant-based diet to begin your plant-based journey. A plant-based diet, also commonly known as a “vegan diet,” is a diet that avoids any animal-based products and consumes food primarily from plants.1 For a proper balanced plant-based lifestyle, it’s essential to include the appropriate portions of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains daily. An individual following a plant-based diet should have the following serving sizes daily: 3-4 of whole grains, 4-5 of vegetables, 3-4 of fruits, and 2-3 of legumes.2 Additionally, oils, added sugars, and high-fat foods should be minimized to obtain the benefits of a healthy lifestyle!

Does Your Diet and Lifestyle Impact Your Overall Health?

It is crucial to take care of your health through diet and lifestyle. Diet and lifestyle are both factors that directly impact weight, blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, and asthma-COPD, consequently leading to poorer heart health and increased risk for certain diseases.2 These diseases are becoming increasingly prevalent today in the United States; in the year 2020, 42.4% of adults were considered obese, and 9.2% of adults were severely obese.3 Thankfully there are ways that you can reduce your risk for these diseases. For example, according to the American Heart Association, lower meat intake can decrease the risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, and several cancers.4 Meat contains high cholesterol and saturated fat levels, which can negatively impact health.4 Decreasing your meat intake can lead to an overall healthier life by reducing the risk for many diseases.

Plant-Based Versus Animal-Based Foods

The nutritional components that make up animal-based and plant-based foods are very different from what you may presume. The levels of cholesterol, fat, and caloric density are higher in animal-based foods than in plant foods.2 Significant amounts of dietary cholesterol can increase one’s cholesterol levels drastically. Managing these levels is extremely important to living a healthy lifestyle because not only can high cholesterol levels lead to a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, but they can also increase one’s risk of having a heart attack or stroke.5

Fiber is a nutritious and essential component to include in our daily diets because it can help maintain a healthy weight and decrease the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and several types of cancers. The daily recommendations of fiber per day are 38 grams for men aged 50 or younger or 30 grams for men 51 or older, and it’s recommended for women aged 50 or younger to have 25 grams per day or 21 grams per day for 51 or older.6 Believe it or not, fiber is only found in our plant foods, and there are no natural fibers that come from animal-based foods. The best food options for our fiber intake are whole-grain products, legumes, and fruits and vegetables, all of which are a part of the plant-based lifestyle.

Can’t Wait to Start Your Plant-Based Journey? Now is the Time!

Beginning your plant-based journey is effortless with the many resources available such as online cooking classes, websites and, plant-based cookbooks! An example of a cookbook is my very own e-cookbook called Plant-Based Kitchen which can be purchased here.

At Dr. Lifestyle Clinic we have many great accessible resources for anyone who is willing to become plant-based. We offer Direct Primary Care, Lifestyle Medicine, and Rheumatology services. We are always welcoming any patient who wants to learn more about the benefits of Lifestyle and Integrative Medicine. Now is your time to begin your plant-based journey!

References

  1. McManus, K. D. What is a plant-based diet and why should you try it? Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/what-is-a-plant-based-diet-and-why-should-you-try-it-2018092614760. Published November 16, 2021.
  2. Class 1 Empowered by Food. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. https://pcrm.widencollective.com/portals/yfgoupfc/fightcovid19?ceid=2062442&emci=8006260f-a1c7-eb11-a7ad-501ac57b8fa7&emdi=5ec89ff1-cac7-eb11-a7ad-501ac57b8fa7
  3. Hales, C. M., Carroll, M. D., Fryar, C. D., & Ogden, C. L. Prevalence of Obesity and Severe Obesity Among Adults: United States, 2017-2018. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated February 27, 2020) https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db360.htm.
  4. How does Plant-Forward (Plant-Based) Eating Benefit your Health? American Heart Association. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/how-does-plant-forward-eating-benefit-your-health
  5. Cholesterol: High Cholesterol Diseases. Cleveland Clinic. Updated December 28, 2020. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/11918-cholesterol-high-cholesterol-diseases
  6. Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet. Mayo Clinic. Published January 06, 2021. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fiber/art-20043983