Why are plant-based foods so good for health? The answer is not simple. Many factors are involved and no single factor is a magic bullet. Vitamins were once thought to be almost miraculous health boosters. They’re important, but not a panacea. Then there was a wave of enthusiasm for antioxidants. There are thousands of natural antioxidant chemicals in plants. They have variable purposes and actions, but not one of them is a cure-all. They have value in boosting our immune systems and protecting our internal cells and tissues from damaging free radicals. Yet, when taken as isolated supplements, large-scale studies have shown they can be damaging to health. The way to get the most value from antioxidants is to eat lots of whole plant foods. The amount of antioxidants in them varies, but overall, plants have many more antioxidants than animal-based foods. In general, the more color in a fruit or veggie, the richer it is in antioxidants. Berries and deep green leafy veggies are among the richest sources of antioxidants.
Fiber is another valuable plant-based element. We’ve known for decades that it’s good for health, but we’re still learning more about why it’s beneficial. We know that it has a major impact on gut health, and this in turn has consequences for the health of the rest of the body. As with vitamins and antioxidants, fiber works best when eaten as part of whole plant-based foods. Fiber taken as a supplement or additive has less value, and may even be detrimental to health. Meat, eggs, and dairy foods have no fiber. The best way to get enough good-quality fiber is to eat abundant plant-based foods.
Many people doubt that plant-based foods have enough protein and fat for good health, but a varied plant-based intake provides more than enough high-quality protein and fat for excellent health. Skeptical? Consider that vegan athletes are tops in many demanding sports. Another point of interest is that the largest, strongest mammals in the world are herbivores. Elephants, rhinos, buffaloes, hippos, giraffes and zebras all consume nothing but plants.
Water is a valuable element in plant-based foods. Most plants are 75-90 percent water. Although you “eat” such water instead of drinking it, this is one of the healthiest ways you can boost your water intake. There are at least three reasons why this is true. First, plant water carries many nutrients and minerals that are beneficial. Second, it’s a good way to boost your body’s natural alkalinity. Third, plant-based water has no calories, so it doesn’t cause weight gain. Since most of the weight in whole plants is calorie-free water, they are ideal foods: low in calories with high nutritional value. Our bodies are over 60 percent water.They “love” plant-based water, absorbing it and using it most efficiently.
Finally, plant-based foods are valuable in fighting most of our common diseases. They help ward off many infectious diseases because they strengthen our immune systems so effectively. Careful research shows that plant-based foods also help prevent many of our chronic killing diseases such as hypertension, stroke, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and others. I will provide more detailed information about this in future blogs. The main point here is that a good plant-based diet can prevent a majority of these illnesses.
Concluding Insight: There are many reasons why plant-based foods are good for health. The evidence favoring them as a big part of one’s diet is powerful. No other kinds of food or combination of foods and supplements can match their benefits.