DIETITIAN AND NUTRITIONIST LEANNE WARD SHARES HOW SMALL CHANGES TO OUR DIET CAN MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE.
Hi — I’m Leanne Ward, AKA The Fitness Dietitian.
As a dietitian and nutritionist, I am excited to partner with Fancy Plants as they are a brand that cares about the planet and people’s health (just like me!).
Our collaboration is exciting, as we get to share with everyone the benefits of plant-based eating. I am thrilled to show Australia that healthy eating doesn’t have to be boring, bland or expensive, and there are many benefits when introducing a plant-based diet into your lifestyle.
Reducing chronic diseases
There is emerging evidence that plant-based diets can reduce chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Even if you don’t want to go 100% plant-based, reliable research shows that even reducing your meat consumption and adding more plant-based meals to your diet each week has health benefits.
Some of the strongest research for plant-based eating is in our type two diabetes populations. In 2018, a systemic review found that eating a plant-based diet helped manage this chronic disease.
The participants in the study who ate plant-based foods were able to control their blood sugar and cholesterol levels better than those who ate animal products. In fact, the study was so promising that many of the vegetarian-based participants were able to reduce the amount of medication they were taking.
Improving emotional and physical wellbeing
The same systemic review found that eating a plant-based diet was associated with improvements in “emotional wellbeing, physical wellbeing, depression, quality of life, general health, HbA1c levels, weight, total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, compared with several diabetic associations’ official guidelines and other comparator diets”.
In this review, the term “plant-based diet” refers to eating habits that avoid consuming most or all animal products and support high consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds, whole grains and nuts.
Supporting gut health
In recent years, gut health has become super trendy, and we know from looking at the research that the best thing you can do to support your gut health is to eat a diverse range of plants. Focusing on more plants helps increase the amount of fibre in your diet, which can improve your gut health.
There has been substantial research that shows that when you look at the gut microbiota between those that follow vegan and vegetarian diets and those that follow meat-based diets (omnivorous diets), the people following plant-based diets have more diverse and stable microbial systems and also have higher counts of certain beneficial bacteria.
Finally, the research shows us that the benefits of plant-based eating may also extend to longevity and cognitive health, but more studies are needed as the current evidence is mixed.
Plant-based is flexible
Time and time again, research has shown us that a focus on plants is the most beneficial way to eat. However, if you find following a completely vegan-based lifestyle challenging or overwhelming, you may want to consider a more flexitarian lifestyle, which allows people to eat lots of plant-based meals without the pressure of every single meal needing to be plant-based.
We know that a plant-based lifestyle is one of the best things we can do for our health, gut health, and the planet, but we don’t need to be perfect with this or cause ourselves additional stress or anxiety.
Eating more plants is an easy solution that assists our health and the planet, so whatever your baseline is, aim to eat a few more plants in every meal and slowly make your way towards a more significant percentage of plant-based meals and snacks.
Try making simple changes to your lifestyle, like eating more fruit as snacks, adding more vegetables to your meals, adding nuts and seeds to your recipes, and focusing on beans and legumes. Brands such as Fancy Plants are a great option when you are trying to include more plant-based foods, as they taste delicious and have a similar taste and texture to dairy-based snacks.
The Fancy Plants range consists of a delicious plant-based Rice Pud, Chocolate Silky Pot and Chia Pods (cafe style chia puddings), and they can be found easily in Coles or Woolworths for an affordable price. The whole Fancy Plants range also contains a source of fibre and prebiotics that are vital for our health and our gut health.
By Leanne Ward, Dietitian and Nutritionist.