The quality of your diet and its impact on your gut is powerful!
I know…. You want the perfect abs, a lack of muffin top, and the scale to read an ideal number. However, these variables consistently overshadow and undermine the real drive for optimal nutrition: to reduce your risk of age-related disease, to improve your cognitive functions, to boost your emotional well being, to maintain your weight, and to live longer too!
It all starts with your lifestyle and diet, and the microbiota they create in your gut! The type and diversity of the microbiota, the colony of live, microorganisms that reside in your gut, on your skin, in your nostrils, and pretty much everywhere in your body are very powerful in your overall health! Don’t believe me? Take note…
- You have more microbiota in your gut than the number of residents in America… 100 trillion bacteria live in or around your body!
- Microorganisms outnumber human cells by 10 to 1.
- Depending on your weight, you have 2 to 6 pounds of bacteria in your gut.
- Sixty to seventy percent of your immune tissue is located within your digestive system!
- Your gut (intestines) is 6.5 metres long (nearly as long as a bus, according to Planet Science) and according to gastrointestinal surgery researchers Lars Fändriks and Herbert Helander, both from the University of Gothenberg in Sweden, the average surface area of the human gut is about 32 square meters, a small studio apartment!
Is it becoming clear? Microbiota rule your body…and so does your gut! Your gut is your second brain; it controls every aspect of your life…your energy, hormones, immunity, happiness, weight, and YES, even your longevity!
Sadly the Standard American Diet (SAD) is lacking of vitamins, fiber, minerals, enzymes, and antioxidants but is full of toxins, chemicals, sugars, and processed foods. All of these food factors are variables in poor gut health. Add to this high stress, lack of sleep, and the end results are clear…A health crisis for many Americans, starting in one’s gut!
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 50% of American adults suffer from a minimum of one chronic condition, including heart disease, stroke, cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and arthritis! That’s simply staggering. And, I see this everyday as a Holistic Health Coach. What’s surprising is our swiftness to dismiss these diseases as inevitable age-related disease. While aging is inevitable; health diseases are not the inevitable result of aging! Instead, health crises are rooted in chronic inflammation, which starts in your gut and is the result of poor diet, lacking in the very plant matter that provides information to our cells and every organ in the body!
Certainly your genes set the “stage” for gut health, but your food and lifestyle choices create either a beautiful “performance” or one of “high drama.” It’s up to you and your gut to choose the “show” you want to see!
You do see where we’re going with this, right? I’ll put this in a simple, straightforward formula:
GOOD GENES + LIFESTYLE + FOOD = GOOD GUT HEALTH, WELLNESS, and LEAN BODY MASS
You can’t predetermine your genes, but you DO have direct control over your lifestyle choices and the types of foods consumed! That’s GREAT news! You can directly impact how long and how well you live!
You can control the healthfulness of your gut by eating the right foods & by making positive choices with regard to sleep and stress. ~Pacer Kristen
This begs the question, “what are the right foods?” I love the simplicity of Dr. Andrew Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid for outlining food choices to promote good gut health. Even though this poor geometrical shape has been picked on in food circles for the last decade, it punctuates an easy principle in visual form: “eat more of this, and less of that!” Here’s the easy part that you intuitively already know…Eating fruits and veggies, beans/legumes, nuts/seeds, and whole grains (so long as you have no food sensitivities) will improve your health. These plant-based foods create healthy gut flora by providing healthy fats and fiber, which in turn minimize inflammation, prevent chronic disease, and drive your metabolic effort! It’s really THAT SIMPLE!
Sure there’s a whole lot of science behind the magic, but it boils down to eating more veggies, fruits, beans/legumes, nuts/seeds, whole grains, and healthy fats EVERY DAY! In so doing, you feed the right flora in your gut, you decrease or eliminate inflammation, you positively modulate your metabolism for weight loss, you improve your appearance (really…even your skin, hair, and nails are affected!), and ultimately you improve your wellness. A plant-based diet works in a symbiotic way to affect your overall health!
Here’s the tricky part! You need to EAT MORE! Yes, eat MORE of the aforementioned plant material. Only 18% of Americans eat the required daily servings of vegetables, and they are mostly eating lettuce, carrots, potatoes (chips and fries), and tomatoes (catsup!)…the top picks. Yes, even catsup is considered a vegetable serving in American Schools!!!
But I digress,…You need to eat more than the minimal required 4-5 cups, and your vegetables and fruit must be of quality composition, such as dark leafy greens- rich in chlorophyll, cruciferous vegetables, richly-colored berries, fiber rich avocados, and chia or flax seeds for health fats, even fermented foods (but that’s another blog!). Hopefully, you’re starting to get the idea! Now, I hope you are sitting down….You need to eat the right kinds of plants and you need to eat MORE of them!
A study by the Imperial College London found that 10 servings of daily vegetables and fruit (go heavier on the greens!) was associated with a “24% reduced risk of heart disease, a 33% reduced risk of stroke, a 28% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, a 13% reduced risk of total cancer, and a 31% reduction in premature deaths.”
THAT’S SERIOUS STUFF! Plants heal and keep you alive longer!
Moving to a plant-based diet can be a daunting task. Please throw aside any misconceptions including:
- Plant-based means no more animal protein
- Plant-based requires eating bunny food
- Plant-based is boring and no fun
- Plant-based eating is expensive
- Plant-based involves lots of prep work
- Plant-based will cause nutritional deficiencies (iron, protein, calcium)
- Plant-based is synonymous with a perfect diet
- Plant-based is vegan..it’s not!
Instead, a whole foods plant based (WFPB) diet comprises whole, unrefined, minimally processed fruit, vegetables, tubers (carrots, potatoes/sweet potatoes, beets, yams, etc…), seeds, nuts, beans/legumes, whole grains, and modest amounts of animal protein (dairy, eggs, meat). Flavorful foods abound in the plant-based world with full-on flavors. It’s just a matter of discovering some new recipes and learning how to put the flavors together….I promise your gut will thank you for it, and you’ll live longer too!
5 STEPS TO TRANSITIONING INTO A PLANT-BASED DIET:
- Learn to make green smoothies. A green smoothie is a perfect place to start, and becoming proficient with your blender alongside a basic smoothie formula is an ideal way to kick off each day with healthy plants to populate your gut. This sets the mindset for health early in the day, and empowers you with sustainable, plant-energy all morning! No time to mix a green smoothie? Try my favorite, organic fast mix green shake and get $50 off with my health coach discount!
- Start with Meatless Monday/Try 1-2 weekly meatless meals. There’s nothing like having the carpet pulled out from under your feet! Same thing applies here. Choose 1-2 weekly meals for adding plants. And, pick something totally new; please don’t start with a vegan version of fettuccine alfredo! The intent is not to make tastes and textures identical when going plant-based; rather, you are looking for familiar comforts. Try a totally new recipe and flavor so your eyes and taste buds don’t go looking for a meal that will inevitably fall short of the cream-laden pasta dish it knows all too well! Go meatless, and go NEW!
- Shift your plate mindset. The phrase “meat and potatoes” exists for good reason…we have traditionally always started with the notion that our meals start with meat. When you go plant-based, you look at your plate differently. The question becomes, “what FLAVOR do I crave and what vegetable(s) shall I feature?” and meat is the side show in smaller portions.
- Try easy swaps. Swap ground beef for ground turkey in tacos or spaghetti, with a bean or veggie patty instead of beef burgers. Try grilled or broiled fish instead of steaks.
- Discover a new plant each week. Consider this….If you mindfully took time to walk through the produce section at your grocer or health food store, you will likely discover a new fruit or veggie. How exciting! Now use your smart phone to find a new recipe using your new veggie. Again, exciting! If you tried a new fruit or veggie each week for one year, you will have 52 new plant-based recipes, and I’m guessing you’ll like at least 1/2, giving you 26 awesomely new plant foods every year! How great!
It’s up to you…ALL ROADS LEAD TO YOUR GUT AND THE PERFORMANCE YOU WANT TO SEE! And, it starts with your plant-based lifestyle!
Ready to make changes but still not sure how to add plants? I’ve got you covered in my programs! It starts with a thoughtful discussion to identify needs, goals, and lifestyle requirements! Are you ready?