Over the years, dietary recommendations have varied dramatically depending upon which book one reads, what documentary one watches, what research studies are released, and what eating plan is preferred by medical professionals, nutritionists, and health coaches.
During the 20+ years of making recommendations in my own wellness practice, I have at one time or another recommended extreme diets such as the: Atkins, Zone, South Beach, Mediterranean, Weight Watchers, Grain Brain, End of Alzheimer’s, Plant Paradox, Paleo, Keto, HCG with very low calorie, Vegetarian, Vegan (raw food only), Flexitarian (a mostly vegetarian diet but eats some fish, meat and poultry), Pescatarian (one whose diet includes fish but no other meat), Nothing with a Face, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, and Intermittent Fasting. These recommendations are customized to meet the needs of each person depending upon their health history, genetic risk factors, religious beliefs, their feelings about animal cruelty, lifestyle habits, food preferences, how much weight one wishes to lose or gain, activity level, and fitness goals.
No ONE diet fits all. What has held true throughout all the diet programs has been one recommendation that has never changed.
Eat more fruits and vegetables.
We heard it as children from our parents. We take supplements such as Juice Plus whole food concentrate, grow food on Tower Gardens, and drink green smoothies to increase our daily intake of fruits and vegetables. We innately know that we should be eating more of these life-saving antioxidants every day to prevent disease from developing in our bodies.
The recent release of the documentary called “The Game Changers” on Netflix has prompted many people to rethink their eating habits and adopt a more plant-based focus for their grocery list and menu plan. After hearing the testimonials from elite athletes of what they experienced in their energy levels, personal gains, recovery and overall health, one feels inspired to try it for ourselves.
A suggestion made in the movie is to transition slowly over to a “Meatless Monday”, one day per week habit, then slowly add more plants in place of animal protein several times per week. One of the most talked-about segments of the movie involves the effect that plant-based eating has on a man’s ability to perform sexually. With so many prescriptions being written for Viagra, Cialis, Levitra, this suggestion to add more plant-based meals has caught the attention of men everywhere who suffer from ED (erectile dysfunction).
Not only is eating more plant-based foods good for our planet, as it reduces the carbon footprint left on this planet, but it may also reduce our cardiovascular risk by one third. Many studies have reported that if certain foods are good for the heart, they are also good for the brain. Keeping it simple, eating foods that are “whole” and not processed will provide all the nutrients the body needs including protein, fiber, carbohydrates and fat. It is not necessary to eat animal protein to maintain a healthy mind and body.
Since heart disease continues to be the #1 cause of death for both men and women, replacing animal protein meals with plants just makes good heart sense.