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Whole foods are more beneficial in long run

COPY EDITOR

Published: Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 09:02

Pyramid

Photo from easyveganmeals.com

By cutting down your intake of meat and dairy products, you could decrease your risk of contracting several different diseases, including cancer, diabetes and circulatory diseases. It’s important to maintain a balanced diet.

We live in a society of fast food restaurants and vending machine snacks. As the years go by, our food technology continues to advance in order to provide us with meals that are cheaper, faster and more convenient. However, as food technology advances so does something else — disease.  

The rate of cancer as people age has increased so drastically it doesn’t get a second glance anymore. Children are being diagnosed with diabetes, a disease that used to be primarily found in adults. These are sicknesses that can be easily remedied, and not with the medicines, supplements and hospital visits that pharmaceutical companies have made our society believe to be necessary.

These diseases can be remedied with something much simpler — something that many people may overlook: food. 

With a whole food, plant-based diet it has been found that people will become more heart healthy, with a decreased risk of some cancers and circulatory diseases, as well as other diseases such as diabetes.  

In The Oxford Vegetarian Study, a 15-year study taking place in Oxford, England and comprised of 6,000 vegetarians and 5,000 non-vegetarians, it was found that meat eaters are twice as likely to die of heart disease. Those who eat meat also have a 60 percent higher chance of getting cancer at some point in their life, and a 30 percent higher chance of getting other types of diseases, according to the study. 

In Norway during World War II, when meat and dairy products were being strictly rationed, the rate of mortality because of circulatory diseases in the country decreased dramatically. 

As soon as normal meat consumption resumed, mortality rates due to circulatory disease immediately resumed to their pre-war state, according to earthscape.net.

Coincidence? I think not. 

Forks Over Knives, an award-winning book-turned documentary film, says a person is most healthy when eating whole and plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains. 

So what does this all mean? Let’s start with the basics. 

Whole foods are simply foods that have not been processed or refined before being consumed. For example, an apple would be considered to be a whole food, while concentrated apple juice would not. 

Think of it this way: If you find it in nature, it’s probably safe to say it’s healthy. 

As for plant based foods, this is the easy part. Simply increasing the portion of fruits, vegetables and legumes consumed throughout the day will benefit your overall health. 

Vegetables are naturally low in fat, calories and cholesterol, and are high in dietary fiber and vitamins.

Science aside, vegetables are simply good for you no matter what way you look at it. 

The majority of us have been brought up to know fruits and veggies are healthy. 

So why hasn’t a plant-based diet caught on with the general population? 

Well, if you give up meat you’re giving up your main source of protein, right? Actually, that’s not true. 

According to livestrong.com, only about one-tenth of the average adult’s daily calories should come from protein. A diet with little or no meat in no way increases the risk of protein deficiencies, because contrary to popular belief, humans do not actually have a huge need for protein. 

People who use meat as their main source of protein actually wind up taking in 4 to 8 percent more protein than the recommended 10 percent, therefore increasing their risk of kidney disease, colon and liver cancer, and osteoporosis, according to livestrong.com. 

Am I saying everyone should give up meat tomorrow and put their diet in reverse? Absolutely not. When looking at your own nutrition, the most essential thing is not to give up unhealthy foods altogether, but to remember to only eat these foods in moderation. 

Everyone has the right to decide what they eat. 

Whether you eat a burger every night for dinner or stick to tofu because you are vegetarian or vegan, it is most important to educate yourself on all sides of nutrition before you make your decision. 

It is equally important to remember that the science of nutrition is still considered to be relatively young, and what is considered to be true today could change drastically tomorrow. 

Who knows — maybe you will stick to eating meat three times a day, or maybe you will shine light on an area of your diet you never took a second glance at. No matter what, never stop educating yourself. 

After all, you are what you eat. 

 

cgund1@brockport.edu

Twitter.com/Carly_Rose17

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