Whole food plant-based diet
What’s good for the body is good for the mind. Diets high in whole-plant foods can improve your physical (Micha et al. 2015) and mental wellbeing (Beezhold & Johnson 2012).
Did you know?
Nutrients from whole foods act synergistically - they support each other to biologically boost the activity of the individual nutrients, sometimes several thousand-fold.
Michael Pollan, in his book 'In Defence of Food', describes how 'bad' scientific research has led to the idea of 'Nutritionism' that is prevalent today and argues for the idea of looking at foods as whole entities.
A focus on individual food compounds rather than wholistic food habits or healthy diets started in the early 19th century.
The idea of consuming nutrients took a leap in 1977 when the Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs endeavoured to resolve the question of diet and chronic disease by developing Dietary Goals for the United States.
In the 1990s, phytochemical compounds were discovered.
We may never know all the nutrients a plant contains but we know that eating whole-plant foods is good for us.
Consuming nutrients in supplement form is inferior to those from natural food sources and can also be harmful (Geller et al. 2015).
The concept of a healthy diet made up primarily of fruit, vegetables, grains, legumes, seeds, nuts and herbs has been understood since antiquity.
Less than 4% of the Australian population consume the recommended 5 serves of vegetables and legumes, and less than one-third the recommended 2 serves of fruit a day (ABS 2016).
Various studies have shown that eating whole plant foods is associated with lower risk and better management of chronic diseases.
Areas around the globe called Blue Zones are home to the healthiest and longest-living people groups - Okinawa, Japan; Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece; Sardinia, Italy; and Loma Linda, California (Beuttner 2015).
Whole plant foods have a range of known nutrients that are important for health – protein, carbohydrate, fat, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants (Carlsen et al. 2010). They also come packaged with fibre and water to enable the control of blood sugars and feeling of fullness (Haber et al. 1977).
Whole plant foods are naturally low in salt, sugar, oils, preservatives and artificial colours and flavours.
There is no magic bullet for preventing and treating chronic disease. The principles of a whole-food plant-based diet are best for addressing the most prevalent and devastating chronic conditions.
What can we do about it
Aim to eat at least 5 serves of vegetables and fruit a day; better still, 10 or more a day provides even greater benefit (Aune et al. 2017). Here are some strategies to help you get more whole plant foods in your day:
Eat an abundance of whole plant foods.
Start by swapping in one plant-based meal every day.
Vary what you eat from day to day and season to season.
Make your plate full of the different colours of the rainbow.
Buy and try something new every week.
Eat with others as often as you can - this provides health, social, personal and sensory benefits from sharing a meal.
Model the enjoyment of eating plant foods to your children, family and friends.
Eating right is a powerful way to enhance your wellness.
What do you need to do to be physically energised?Did you Know?
50% of Australians have at least one chronic condition, nearly 25% have two or more. Cancer, coronary heart disease and mental illness contribute the most to the disease burden (AIHW 2018). A staggering 80% of our risk of developing a chronic disease is related to our diet, movement, weight and smoking (Katz 2014).Discover more facts
The Live More Project brings together scientifically-proven strategies from Neuroscience, Psychology and Lifestyle Medicine into a fun, experiential and life-enhancing program. Developed and presented by Dr. Darren Morton, the Live More Project is helping people improve their health and happiness around the world.Learn more
The content provided is intended for educational purposes only. The content is not to replace the medical diagnosis, recommendation and medical advice of health professionals. People on diuretics, or if you are a professional athlete, or if you are sick in fever, vomiting or diarrhea, consult your doctors or registered dietitians to give guidance on the amount of water you should consume per day.Learn more