Heart disease is American’s number one killer, closely followed by cancer killing one out of every four in the United States alone. To further bring things into perspective more than 70% of Americans are overweight or obese and by 2030 it’s predicted that a whopping 50% of Americans will be pre-diabetic or diabetic. Crazy right? What has happened to us? There are several factors responsible, but the biggest contributor is our diet. At present, 94% of the caloric intake of the typical American is essentially empty without any form of nourishment. Just about 6% of calories coming from vegetables, fresh fruit, whole grains, seeds, and legumes.
What should we be eating?
Eating a variety of unprocessed vegetables, especially leafy greens, is vital to maintaining a healthy diet. Some countries are already adopting this diet. Eating a plant-based diet (this does not necessarily mean vegan or vegetarian but rather primarily plant based diet where the concentration of the food on your plate is plant based and your sides are proteins) is in line with the Belgian Dietary Guidelines to promote health and well-being. Belgium recently introduced a new food guideline prioritizing the consumption of Tofu, legumes, and oils but namely vegetables. It is recommended that you eat a wide variety of plant based foods.
Plant-based diets are especially good for your health. A published science journal reported that more than 200,000 adults living in the US for more than 20 years found that eating a diet high in plant foods and low in animal foods was linked with a 20% lower risk of diabetes as opposed to eating a diet low in plant foods. Plants are excellent sources of several nutrients that promote good health including unsaturated fats, minerals (potassium), vitamins (such as folate), protein and fiber. Eating a plant-based rich diet has been associated with a lower risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and inflammation.
Of course, we’re not saying fat is the villain, on the contrary, not all fats are created equal. In fact, it has been proven that fat consumption does not necessarily cause weight gain. Research findings have suggested that fat is not the real villain here, but rather refined carbohydrates and added sugar are as they get quickly broke down to sugar. That means that foods like rich salmon, buttery avocados, and savory nuts should have a place in your diet. The body actually needs fat to function, it is critical for muscle movement and blood clotting. The body also needs it for building cell membranes as well as for forming the protective shields around the nerves and it also helps the body absorb minerals and vitamins from the foods we eat. The bottom line is that we should learn to separate healthy fats from unhealthy fats. Healthy fats are generally referred to as Mono- and polyunsaturated fats and they are usually from olive oil, nuts, and fish while the unhealthy ones are trans-fats found in processed foods.
The bottom line is that a diet of minimally processed foods, predominantly plants, is conclusively associated with disease prevention and health promotion. In the most basic terms, if we’re willing to flip our diet and start getting 94% of our caloric intake from whole plant-based foods (instead of the current levels of 6%), we will enjoy improved health. As you take steps to include a plant-based diet in your meals, you will likely realize that your preferences for unhealthy food will subside and you will find yourself incorporating more whole, plant-foods into your routine.
I’ll leave you with this: Integrating more veggies, nuts, and seeds in your diet will supply your body with an incredible array of antioxidants, micronutrients, phytonutrients, minerals, and fiber
Christopher Lawrence is a Co-Founder of the Healthy Transformations program with Dr. Mike Breen. He is also the Chief Value Officer and Founder of Change My Life Coaching and Co-Founder of Change My Business Coaching — a fast growing whole-life, leadership and business coaching company, and the only one of it’s kind. He is also the author of “Go Beyond Passion: Discover Your Dream Job”. Christopher is a Certified Master Coach Practitioner (CMCP), trainer and facilitator, and a passionate public speaker that truly cares about the success of each and every single person he comes into contact with. You can reach him at Christopher@ChangeMyLifeCoaching.ca.