plant based-diet

Nutrition

Food is our fuel, our medicine our very foundation and so much more!

The first principle we look at is nutrition. We start right at cellular level as this is where it all happens and understanding this is key to health.

Nutrigenomics is the science that explains how different compounds in food travel to the deepest cellular level, where it affects DNA and changes your genetic expression and trigger a response from the cell.

The response can either be a good one such as with phytonutrients that activate the longevity genes within the cell. Or not such a good response as in the case of refined sugar, which binds to the cell and triggers the release of irritating chemicals that cause swelling and auto immune responses.

Several studies have shown the effect of improper nutrition on DNA and genetic expression is a major cause of chronic disease today.

Eating food with little or no nutritious value can, over time, lower the effectiveness of the body’s defence system and compromise your physical and mental health. Clearly, the benefits of a healthy diet and healthy lifestyle has invaluable potential for your health.

Knowing then that food can either harm or heal you, should make a difference in what and how you consume it. 

DNA-to-cell

One “eats” with all your senses but one should also make intelligent choices based on the knowledge and understanding of how food affects us.

Proper nutrition refers to foods that will provide you with all your daily energy and nutrient needs for maintenance and repair of your body; without compromising biological systems.
It is no surprise that the current young generation who follows a predominantly fast food and junk food diet is showing an alarming increase in the prevalence of juvenile diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, cancer and obesity. Because these foods are devoid of any beneficial nutritional value, the body is not receiving the support to sustain and restore it daily.

In contrast, foods that are rich in macro and micro nutrients and soluble fiber, aids your body to eliminate toxins, excess hormones, cholesterol and help beneficial bacteria in the gut to grow, strengthening your immune system and reducing your risk of infections.

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do so to the glory of God." 1 Cor 10:31. ESV

Gut-Bacteria-Infographic

The Gut Microbiome

The health of your gastrointestinal system is extremely important to your overall well-being. Largely responsible for the critical functions of the body’s digestive and immune systems, beneficial bacteria in your digestive system have the capability of affecting your body’s vitamin and mineral absorbency, hormone regulation, digestion, vitamin production, immune response, and ability to eliminate toxins, not to mention your overall mental health.

The community of bacteria, viruses and fungi in your gut is known as your gut microbiome and is an integral internal ecosystem that benefits our gut health and the immune system.

Throughout our lives, we help shape our own microbiomes AND they adapt to changes in our environment. For example the state of your microbiome is established by the foods you eat, how you sleep, the amount of bacteria you’re exposed to on a daily basis and the level of stress you live with.

In general, the health of your gastrointestinal (GI) system is determined by the levels and types of bacteria in your digestive tract. 

Gut health = Brain health

Ideally there should be a balance of good and bad bacteria, however, an imbalance between beneficial and harmful bacteria results in something known as gut dysbiosis which means there are too many bad bugs including bacteria, yeast, and sometimes parasites, and not enough good ones. This imbalance causes damage to the mucosal layer of your GI tract; causing it to become permeable, allowing food proteins to enter into the blood stream. This activates your immune system, causing inflammation, food sensitivities, and a myriad of symptoms both in the GI system and throughout the whole body.

When the gut is healthy, the brain is happier.

Certain microbes found in the gut can work to help heal and protect the brain in the long-term. The type of food that a body processes can have a huge positive effect on the functions of the brain.

How do we feed and how do we damage these bacteria?

Diets that are filled with simple carbohydrates and gluten are damaging to the brain, as they allow bad bacteria in the gut to grow exponentially. Not surprisingly, this type of gut-damaging diet has been linked to mental health issues ranging from headaches and ADHD to depression and dementia. Research has shown that when the gut is irritated or inflamed, which usually happens when the body is trying to digest foods that are overly processed or that it has sensitivity to, the ENS signals the body’s Central Nervous System (CNS), which can then trigger mood changes.

Although serotonin is well known as a brain neurotransmitter, approximately 75–90% of the body’s serotonin is made in the digestive tract.

New studies suggest that digestive function may also affect certain cognitive functions, such as thinking skills and memory, as well as early Parkinson's Disease.

Foods that promote inflammation and that should be avoided are:

  • Refined vegetable oils
  • Pasteurized dairy products
  • Refined carbohydrates and processed grain & wheat products
  • Conventional meat, poultry and eggs
  • Added sugars
  • Trans fats/hydrogenated fats
Gut-Bacteria-Infographic

What should you eat and do to restore balance:

Natural foods can lower inflammation and help increase good bacteria in the gut. High-antioxidant foods help reduce gut damage caused by oxidative stress and turn down an overactive immune system while safeguarding healthy cells.

  • Fresh vegetables (all kinds): loaded with phytonutrients
  • Whole pieces of fruit (not juice) that contain various antioxidants like resveratrol and flavonoids
  • Herbs, spices and teas: turmeric, ginger, basil, oregano, thyme, etc., plus green rooibos tea
  • Probiotics: Probiotic foods contain “good bacteria” that populate your gut and fight off bad bacterial strains. Try to include probiotic foods like vegan yogurt, kombucha, miso, tempeh or cultured veggies in your diet daily.
  • Healthy fats: coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, nuts/seeds.
  • Ancient grains and legumes/beans: best when sprouted and 100 percent unrefined/whole.

How else can you establish a strong microbiome?

Healing your gut allows the body to build a stronger immune system and produce the right kind of bacteria that tells your brain that it’s okay to feel good again.

  • Avoid Antibiotics as Much as Possible
  • Lower Stress and Exercise More
  • Add Supplements (Co-enzyme Q10, carotenoids, seed oil, selenium and antioxidants (vitamins C, D and E

 

Switching to a plant-based wholefood diet

Many in the medical field believe that diseases such as Alzheimer's, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Multiple Sclerosis are irreversible, and that the best that can be done is to slow the progression with drugs

However, Dr Roy Swank at John Hopkins University and Dr Neal Bernard from the Physicians for Responsible Medicine are just two highly respected physicians who supply evidence that a change in diet from an animal based to plant-based diet can actually prevent and reverse the effects of these debilitating diseases, giving great hope to sufferers.

Plants are living “pharmacies” that dispense natural substances with medicinal powers. Virtually every pharmaceutical drug and nutritional supplement you can name has its origins in a plant.
There are virtually no nutrients in animal foods that are not supplied more healthfully in plant based foods. Compared to animal foods, plant foods contain more fibre, anti-oxidants, are low in cholesterol and for the most part fat. Follow this link for insight into What the dairy industry doesn’t want you to know – Dr Neal Barnard

When it comes to vegetables, copy the rainbow. In general, the more colors you eat when it comes to plants, the more anti-inflammatory, detoxifying, healing compounds from the phytonutrients you’ll soak up. Some of these colors even work together synergistically to have a more powerful effect, which is another reason you should eat a diverse array of veggies.

Further Resources

  • Health lectures by Naturopath Dr Barbara O’Neill
  • Health lectures by Dr Neal Barnard
  • Life at its best by Prof Walter Veith
  • Presentations by THRIVE founder and top multi-sport athlete Brendan Brazier
  • The gut brain connection Dr Mark Hyman
  • China Study by T. Colin Campbell

Eat a variety of Vegetables (especially leafy greens) fruits, grains,legumes, seeds, and nuts.

Eat a good breakfast, a moderate lunch, and a light supper spaced 4-5 hours apart.

  • The stomach takes about 3-4 hours to digest plant based food and appreciates another hour of rest before it has to work again.
  • Meat products can take anything from 6-72 hours.
  • Whenever anything is ingested, it doesn’t matter how small, the stomach releases gastric acid to digest the food. If anything else enters before the food is digested e.g. an hour later, it stops the process of digestion and starts all over again.
  • This results in the partly digested food starting to ferment as it “waits” for the new food to reach the same digestive stage. This causes a rise in the acidity levels in the body which harms the good bacteria in the stomach, compromising breakdown of nutrients and absorption.
  • Choose foods in its natural state or as close to it as possible.
  • Eating whole unprocessed foods provides an abundance of nutrients that strengthens our body’s immune system and protect us from chemicals in the environment.
  • It contains natural enzymes which helps with digestion, is nutrient dense and contains fibre which assists in eliminating toxins from the body.
healthy-lunch

Top tips to get you started

  • Eliminate all refined fats and replace with moderate amounts of essential fats in wholefood forms such as lin /flaxseed, chia seeds, olives, avocado.
  • Use salts high in minerals such as Himalayan salt or Celtic salt.
  • Eliminate refined sugars. Watch neuroscientist Amy Reichelt on the effects of sugar on the brain.
  • Eliminate alcohol, unnatural preservatives, colourants and additives. 
  • Eliminate gluten if you suffer from ill health as research has found up to 80% of the population has negative reactions to gluten. Watch this insightful video by Dr William Davis on the origin of modern wheat.
  • Choose pseudo grains for gluten free, easier digestible alternatives or if you want to re-introduce grains into your diet. and ancient grains

It might sound too simplistic that we can prevent and reverse disease just by changing our diet.

Yet the science is there to prove this.

WHEN you eat is also important. It is best not to eat after 6pm and within 3 hours of sleep. Only during deep sleep are growth hormones released (specifically between the hours of 9pm – 3am) which enables the body to build muscle and manage body fat. Consuming foods close to bed time leads to higher insulin levels as one’s insulin sensitivity decreases at night. This can decrease the body’s fat-burning ability, enhancing fat storage. Ideally one needs to be in bed by 9pm to tap into your body’s natural cycle of restoration and repair.

  • Eat at regular times and not in between meals.
  • Be mindful of food combinations. Click on this link for a printable chart.
  • Avoid GMO (genetically modified food) Click on me for more info.

There is no specific magic bullet single nutrient that will cure, or prevent diseases. Instead of seeking out a specific diet or super food to cure all diseases, switching to a plant-based wholefood diet will benefit the body and reduce all chronic disease developments across the board.

Food Ratios

  • 45% Fiber rich vegetables-Leafy greens, carrots etc.
  • 20% Plant proteins – Legumes, peas, edamame.
  • 20% Fruits- Banana, Apples, berries etc.
  •  10% Essential fats & unrefined oils (nuts & Seeds
  • 5% Starchy veg & pseudo grains

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