About 5 years ago I decided to look at my diet in some detail mainly because of a strong family history of coronary artery disease. My dad suffered an M.I. (Myocardial Infarction or ‘heart attack’) at age 47! I read books, research papers, watched movies, attended meetings and webinars to educate myself on this topic – see some of the references below. After digesting all of the choices and information I decided to switch to a Plant Based Whole Food (PBWF) diet.
New diets come on the scene all the time, but a diet that has been on the scene since the beginning of time, and will remain to be the most nutritious, enriching diet on the planet – is the plant based whole food (PBWF) diet. If you’re wondering if PBWF is the same thing as veganism, the answer is no. The PBWF diet is different to veganism in a few key ways which I’ll explain momentarily. If you’re not familiar with this way of plant-based eating, this article will teach you all you need to know about the PBWF diet and how you can benefit from it.
What is a plant based whole food (PBWF) diet?
The popularity of plant based diets have steadily increased in recent years, sevenfold in the years between 2014 and 2019 with more and more people choosing to cut meat and dairy products out of their diets for the benefit of the planet, the animals, their health and their conscience. But under the umbrella of plant based diets, there are a few nuances that are important to be aware of before you embark on this lifestyle and dietary change.
A PBWF diet involves eating plant foods and is arguably a less rigid version of veganism. Plant based means the majority of your calories come from plants including the main plant based food groups:
- Whole grains – quinoa, barley, brown rice, oats, whole wheat etc.
- Legumes – beans, chickpeas, black beans, lentils etc.
- Fruits – bananas, apples, pineapples, oranges etc.
- Vegetables – kale, spinach, green peas, corn etc.
- Tubers – sweet potatoes, yams, carrots, beets, etc.
- Seeds & Nuts – cashews, flaxseed, chia, nut butters, etc.
According to Harvard Health, some plant based eaters may choose to include a small percentage of their diet coming from animal products. But some plant based eaters choose to maintain a vegan diet, consisting of entirely healthy plant foods and no animal food products.
A key difference between vegan and a PBWF diet is the focus on whole foods. While some vegans commit to eating whole foods, veganism in general includes all foods as long as they are not made from animals. To put this into perspective, vegan foods include oreos, french fries, some biscuits, refined grains, white bread, and sugar. Is this a healthy diet? We think not. This is where the health benefits of a PBWF diet come from – the focus on whole foods, sourced directly from nature.
What are the benefits of a Plant-Based Whole Food diet?”
Your body weight will improve
When you consume heavily processed foods as per the typical western diet, your body has to process a high amount of chemicals, salt, added sugar and other additives. This can cause hormonal and metabolic malfunction, which studies show can result in weight gain and an inability to lose weight. When you are nourishing your body with unprocessed nutrients and vitamins, your body is able to function at optimal capacity, meaning efficient weight regulation.
You’ll feel satiated
Plant based food is higher in fiber and takes longer to chew, meaning you get fuller quicker. When you consume wholefoods your hormones responsible for your appetite and satiety signaling – ghrelin and leptin – have been shown in research to work effectively. A diet rich in chemicals can encourage you to eat despite being calorically satiated, as explored in this study.
You’ll live longer
A study published in 2017 that involved looking at 79 behavioral, environmental, occupational, and metabolic risks in 188 Countries from 1990 to 2013
found that poor diet was associated with more than 11 million preventable deaths. The study found that those populations that consumed a largely plant based diet were likely to live longer.
Your risk of disease will decrease
This is supported by a study published by the Journal of Nutrition that found the plant based diet to be positively correlated to lower mortality from all causes, particularly from risk of heart disease and cancer.
Let’s look at high blood pressure (Hypertension) in more detail. The average American has what’s called prehypertension, which means the top number of our blood pressure is between 120 and 139. We don’t have hypertension yet, which starts at 140, but we may be well on our way. Compare that to the blood pressure of those eating whole food plant-based diets. In one study, those eating plant-based diets had blood pressures 28 points lower! That’s impressive! However, the group eating the standard American diet was, on average, overweight with a BMI over 26, still better than most Americans, while the PBWF group were a trim 21—that’s 36 pounds lighter.
If we turn our attention to Diabetes the results are just as mind blowing. We’ve known since the 1930s that type 2 diabetes can be prevented, arrested, and even reversed with a plant-based diet. Within five years of following the diet, about a quarter of the diabetic patients in that early study were able to get off insulin altogether!
A PBWF diet is full of nutrients and vitamins that will nourish your body, to reduce your risk of getting all the illnesses and chronic diseases that are so common in the modern world. You’ll also enjoy satiety and great digestion, helping you to perform, recover and feel better than ever.
If you are interested in exploring the concept of a PBWF diet further I would recommend the following resources;
There are several documentaries out there and my favorites include the following:
About the Author:
Dr. Rawlinson is an entrepreneurial physician executive, strategic leader, and digital healthcare product innovator. He is passionate about creating digital tools and new delivery models that reduce waste and inefficiency, improve quality, and drive improved performance and satisfaction. Dr. Rawlinson volunteers for The Maven Project and Rotacare Bay Area. He tweets @CMIO. He is an avid road cyclist and a big fan of Manchester City FC in the English Premier League!