Published August 14, 2013
In the search for better health, many people turn towards a plant-based diet. For some, becoming a vegan or vegetarian can be a blessing, helping them lose weight, lower blood pressure and even preventing diabetes and obesity. For others, a plant-based diet doesn’t reap the benefits they hoped it would.
An easy, but unhealthy, way to become a vegan is to replace animal protein with manufactured food products that resemble old favorites. By doing this, processed food can easily become a staple, rather than the vegetables, fruits and healthy grains and legumes that should take center stage when on a plant-based diet.
Another problem many are faced with is that a vegan diet has to be carefully designed to avoid nutrient deficiencies. If you’re struggling to find better health through a plant-based diet, adding a few highly nutritious animal products could make all the difference.
Cultured dairy products have wonderful probiotic benefits as well as the benefits of vitamin K2, CLA, beta-carotene and vitamin A. Kefir, which is made by introducing kefir grains into raw milk, is full of beneficial yeast that can help maintain a healthy gut. Yogurt is also essential for a gut health; it is high in the bacteria L. Bulgaricus, which can withstand digestion and establish colonies of healthy bacteria in the intestines, improving G.I distress and boosting the immune system.
Choosing grass-fed beef and organ meats will drastically cut down your exposure to hormones and antibiotics. They are also rich in antioxidants, vitamin E, beta carotene, vitamin C and Omega 3’s. Both meat and dairy products from grass-fed animals are a great source of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), which has been linked to long term weight management. CLA helps improve body composition and health by decreasing inflammation.
Pastured eggs are a rich source of Vitamin D and studies have shown they may contain three to six times more of the vitamin than conventional eggs. Pastured chickens are exposed to direct sunlight; therefore they pass the vitamin D on to their eggs. Vitamin D has also been shown to help build strong bones, improve mood and build immunity.
Wild, fatty fish including salmon, sardines and herring are rich sources of heart healthy Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3’s are a vital part of a healthy diet and are beneficial in maintaining healthy cells. Studies have shown that people whose diets are high in this fatty acid are less likely to suffer from high blood pressure. Omega 3’s can also help brain health, improving symptoms of depression and hyperactivity.
The key to eating healthy is to make vegetables and fresh produce the main component of your diet. Eliminate highly processed foods and try including healthy animal products in amounts that you feel good about and will help you reach your goals.