The Wonders of Whole Plant-based Foods

The cells of plants are one of the wonders of our universe. The work they do through their intricate design and connections is crucial for all of us.

Each cell has millions of chemical actions going on simultaneously. Chloroplasts are tiny organelles in the cell membranes of green leaves. The chlorophyll in these cells absorbs light from the sun. Surrounding proteins transfer light’s energy into ATP molecules in the cells to make sugars.

Plants also create oxygen as a by-product of their work. This oxygen is the source of all the atmospheric oxygen that plants and animals require. It’s the chlorophyll in plants that makes all life on earth possible.

Top predators may never eat a single plant, but they eat herbivores. Herbivores eat plants, digesting plant nutrients to grow and create muscle. Those nutrients would not be possible without chlorophyll. Herbivores, omnivores, and carnivores are all dependent on chlorophyll for their very existence.

The wonders of whole plant-based foods don’t stop at the cellular level. Humans are anatomically designed to thrive best on whole plant foods. Our dental structure is best suited for chewing plant-based food. Carnivorous animals have much different dental structures, designed for slashing and tearing meat.

Research on the human gut has exploded in the past 10 years. We now know that our gut microbiome thrives on high-fiber foods, digesting the fiber to produce short chain fatty acids (SCFAs). These SCFAs nourish our colon cells and boost the immune system. This is the only way we get SCFAs, because we cannot produce them ourselves. Yet they are important for good gut and immune system health, helping to prevent leaky gut syndrome, autoimmune disease, and many other chronic diseases.

About 70 percent of our immune system is in cells lining our gut. Whole plant foods have abundant fiber, whereas meats and animal-based foods have no fiber, and highly processed foods have lost most of their fiber. How marvelous it is that whole plant-based foods dovetail so beautifully with our gut microbiome to boost our immune system!

Whole plant-based foods are also good for the entire planet. Planet Earth’s health is seriously stressed today. Our forests, oceans, rivers, and lands are severely degraded. Many species have become extinct, and more are threatened. A major key to the earth’s health is the food we eat. Why?

Industrial agriculture disrupts large land areas annually to grow extensive monocultures of few crops. Those crops are used mainly to feed animals! Factory farms concentrate enormous numbers of animals. Their collective wastes are toxic to land, water, and creatures. Tropical forests are lost as they are cleared for agricultural purposes. Much of the damage to our planet’s health is driven by humanity’s demand for meat today.

It takes far more land to produce meat and dairy foods than whole plant foods for humans. A shift to eating whole plant-based foods would reduce the need for farmland by 75 percent. We are making a start in that direction as many people are adopting healthy vegetarian or vegan diets. A wholesome plant-strong diet with a little organically raised meat can also be part of a sustainable lifestyle.

Regenerative agriculture promotes planetary health. No-till methods don’t disrupt the land. Perennial crops help avoid erosion by holding soil in place. Cover crops protect and enrich the soil. Healthy animals grazing on green pastures enrich the soil. Regular mulching protects and upgrades the soil. Reforestation, cleansing of our rivers, and recovery of our oceans begin to occur.

Consumption of whole plant-based foods supports regenerative agriculture, your health, and the health of our planet. These are the benefits that flow from eating whole plant-based foods. I like my plant-centered meals and look forward to every breakfast, lunch, and supper. They are a joy!