Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What's The Best Plant-Based Diet?

Your health depends heavily on your lifestyle and, more importantly, the foods you choose to include in your lifestyle. Over the past few years there has been a popular and growing movement to transition towards a plant-based diet in order to achieve better health and trimmer waistlines. The science and evidence is certainly there to support this move towards a plant-centered diet, not only in terms of health, but also in terms of benefiting the environment and the welfare of all living beings on the planet.

Along with these many benefits comes many choices. There's at least a dozen or more different plant-based diets to follow so which one is the best? Which provides the greatest benefit to you?

We'll get to these questions soon, but first let's take a look at just a few of the popular plant-based diets out there to give you a sense of what's available.

Popular Plant-Based Diets



1) The Fab Five - Pursue A Healthy You (The Plant-Based Pharmacist)

I've laid out some simple guidelines to adopting a whole foods, plant-based diet and which foods to incorporate as part of this eating style at my website Pursue A Healthy You. This includes five basic food groups I like to call my Fab Five:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Legumes
  • Whole Grains
  • Nuts/Seeds

I focus on keeping things simple and including all of your calories from these five food groups. The amounts of each food group and tips on how to adopt this health-promoting diet can all be found here.


2) The Power Plate - Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine (PCRM)

PCRM has outlined their path to a healthy diet using a straightfoward method using a dinner plate divided into four main food groups. These include:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Legumes
  • Whole Grains

This approach is very simple to follow and resembles the USDA's MyPlate program, albeit a much healthier version. PCRM focuses on incorporating only whole, plant-based foods while eliminating all animal-based foods in their plan.


3) The McDougall Diet - Dr. John McDougall, MD

Dr. McDougall has outlined his road to optimal health using a starch-based diet. His approach uses unrefined starches as the base to one's meal plans accompanied by an array of whole, plant-based foods. The McDougall Diet at a glance:

  • Unrefined Starches (Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Brown Rice, Whole Grain Pasta, etc.) - Base of the Diet
  • Green and Yellow Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Legumes
  • Whole Grains
  • Nuts/Seeds (Optional, Limited Amounts)

Dr. McDougall's starch-based diet acts to satisfy your hunger needs while sticking to starchy vegetables and whole grains which have served as "staple foods in the diets of all successful, trim, and healthy populations throughout history" as he often cites.


4) The Nutritarian Diet - Dr. Joel Fuhrman, MD

Dr. Fuhrman has coined the term "Nutritarian" in his efforts to promote a vegetable-based, whole foods diet. He uses green vegetables as the base of his diet while incorporating other whole plant foods to accompany them. His Nutritarian Diet looks like this:

  • Green Vegetables - Base of the Diet
  • Vegetables (other than greens)
  • Fruits
  • Legumes
  • Whole Grains/Starchy Vegetables
  • Animal/Processed Foods (Optional and/or LIMITED amounts only)

Dr. Fuhrman has developed the acronym G-BOMBS to emphasize (G)reens, (B)eans, (O)nions, (M)ushrooms, (B)erries, and (S)eeds as staples to his diet. The term "Nutritirian" implies the diet's focus on the micronutrient content of foods.


5) The Esselstyn Diet - Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr., MD

Dr. Esselstyn is most well known for his groundbreaking research in reversing heart disease. He accomplished this by using a whole foods, plant-based diet as outlined:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Legumes
  • Whole Grains
  • Foods Specifically Not Allowed - Animal Foods, Oils, Nuts, Nut Butters


6) The Engine 2 Diet - Rip Esselstyn

Rip Esselstyn (son of Dr. Esselstyn) wrote his first book titled The Engine 2 Diet promoting a whole foods, plant-based diet. Rip's approach to a healthy body is identical to his father's with a few exceptions. He allows nuts and nut butters in his diet. The Engine 2 diet at a glance:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Legumes
  • Whole Grains
  • Nuts/Seeds


7) Raw Food, Vegan Diet

A raw food, vegan diet is just that. All foods are 100% plant-based and raw. It does not allow for any foods that are of animal origin or foods which have been heated in excess of 118 degrees F. A raw food, vegan diet includes:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Sprouted Legumes and Grains
  • Plant Oils
  • Sea Vegetables
  • Herbs

8) Vegan Diet

A vegan diet is a diet excluding all animal-based foods. Meat, dairy, and eggs are not allowed. Plant foods of all kinds ARE allowed including processed foods, such as vegetables oils and packaged foods. This diet does not necessarily focus on health. Many vegan foods (i.e. cookies, pastries, potato chips, french fries, soda, etc.) would also be considered junk foods, and therefore are not a part of a healthy diet. A vegan diet includes:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Legumes
  • Whole Grains
  • Nuts/Seeds
  • Plant Oils
  • Processed Foods (cookies, pastries, faux "meat" products, soda pop, etc.)
  • Foods Specifically Not Allowed - Meat, Dairy Products, and Eggs

9) Vegetarian Diet

A vegetarian diet excludes all animal flesh (meat) and animal by-products (rennet and gelatin). Vegetarian diets include many plant-based foods, as well as dairy and eggs. This diet also does not necessarily focus on health as it contains foods which have been known to promote chronic diseases - dairy, eggs, vegetable oils, and processed junk foods (cookies, ice cream, pastries, cakes, etc.). A vegetarian diet includes:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Legumes
  • Whole Grains
  • Nuts/Seeds
  • Plant Oils
  • Processed Foods
  • Dairy Products
  • Eggs
  • Foods Specifically Not Allowed - Meat (including poultry and seafood), Animal by-products (gelatin)


What's The Best Plant-Based Diet For You?


So, with all these choices which is the best plant-based diet for you? That's easy!

The best plant-based diet for you is the one you will follow for the rest of your life. After all, if you don't enjoy what you're eating then chances are you're not going to eat that way for the rest of your life.

If your goal is to achieve optimal health it's best to stick with whole foods. As a general rule, the more whole, plant-based foods (fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts/seeds) you include in your diet the better your overall health will be. Animal-based (meat, dairy, and eggs) and processed (vegetable oils and packaged/refined goods) foods have been shown to promote disease and should be avoided if you want to prevent and/or reverse chronic diseases. A diet rich in color from an array of plant-based foods which also satisfies your taste buds is sure to give you everything you need to achieve a healthy body. To be on the safe side include a daily vitamin B12 supplement in your regimen. This is the only vitamin and/or mineral which may be lacking in a plant-based diet.

Finding a plant-based diet that works for you is a lot of fun and full of opportunities to reignite your love for food. You simply can't go wrong by giving it a shot. Your body and your health will thank you several times over by doing so.







If you like what you see here then you'll LOVE our daily Facebook and Twitter posts!  Also, don't forget to sign up for  Our Free Online Mailing List  to get all the latest updates from the Plant-Based Pharmacist and the rest of the team here at Pursue A Healthy You!

We'd love for you to join us in spreading the good word about plant-based nutrition and lifestyle medicine by telling your family and friends about our website at www.PursueAHealthyYou.com

Share and rate this post below or tell us what you think by posting a comment. Thank you again for stopping by and until next time... be happy, be healthy, live the life you've always dreamed of!

2 comments:

  1. What Can I EAT?
    My goal 2 be a totally Vegan but, on 08/03/12 I got the results from my doctor, that I must not eat "SOYBEAN, CASEIN/COW MILK & EGG/(YORK OR WHITE). I drink only almond milk but, most of my food I eat contains soybean/soy & milk. Plus, I have "COLD URTICARIA" since, 1986 & "CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME" but, will not do surgery. PLEASE,HELP! What do U advise? Yet, I'm not too bad off 4 going on 60yrs. old, living with mostly daily pains & numbness from my CTS & love to workout, when my hands, r well!But, after read this, I've realized that I'm really interested in being a "PLANT-BASE" NOT A VEGAN! Yet, "eggs,coffee with cream, pepsi w/lemon & cheese" r my favorite urger foods that I cheat with. Please,Help! I emailed Dr.OZ & asked 4 his help 2.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I outline what to eat on my nutritional page with sample meal plans and recipes. Feel free to explore more here - http://www.pursueahealthyyou.com/nutrition. Also, Dr. McDougall has an easy to follow 12 day plan for free here - http://www.drmcdougall.com/free.html.

      Delete