Micaela Cook Karlsen, author of "A Plant Based Life": Become a healthy vegetarian
Micaela Cook Karlsen on Liquid Lunch with Hugh Reilly, Jen Frankel, and Mr. Fresh:
You may not like to think about it, but the data just keeps on piling up. Switching to a plant-based diet can save your life. There is simply no better way to combat and reduce the health risks we see in modern times.
Micaela Cook Karlsen, doctoral candidate in nutritional epidemiology and author of the new book A Plant-Based Life (published by AMACOM Books), presents evidence showing the astounding benefits of switching to a plant-based diet… and it just keeps on coming in.
“Going plant-based doesn’t mean you have to give up meat and chicken totally, but if you make fruits and vegetables the main part of the meal and use meat to support the menu, you’ll be well on your way to switching to a mare plant-based diet,” she says.
The growing body of solid research supports the idea that switching to a plant-based diet can boost your health, lower blood pressure thereby decreasing the risk of heart disease and stroke, reduce and even eliminate type 2 diabetes, prevent and help treat certain cancers, lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels, help you stay at a healthy weight, protect against several eye disorders and vision problems like cataracts and macular degeneration, and even help with skin conditions like acne.
“When you build your meals primarily with plant foods, you fill your body with fiber, vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and a host of needed chemicals and nutrients that most people simply don’t get enough of,” Karlsen says. “Making the switch is easier if you make friends and do it with others who are also committed to a plant-based diet, because shared support and the camaraderie will help you achieve success. It’s also easier if you focus on making great food and recipes.”
Micaela’s research reveals that there are five specific rewards that come directly from switching to a plant-based diet:
1. Plant-based diets give you the best chance for living a long, healthy life free of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Living longer is great, but most of us want to live better. Plant-based eating offers both.
2. A totally plant-based diets free of added sugars and oils is absolutely the easiest path to achieving a healthy weight. Eating nutrient rich, calorie-dense whole foods with plenty of fiber fills you up on fewer calories without feeling hungry. So you can eat until you feel full every time and still drop the excess pounds.
3. Meat, fish, and dairy products have the heaviest environmental footprint of all food groups due to their effect on greenhouse gas emissions, water, and land use. Avoiding them makes a sustainable future possible for the whole world.
4. Whole plant-based foods are affordable! Meat, dairy products, imitation meat and dairy, and processed snacks are expensive, calorie dense, and lack fiber and many of the micronutrients we need. Eating totally plant-based gives you a bigger bang for your nutritional buck.
5. Last, but not least, eating totally plant-based is delicious! Even if your taste buds don’t think so at first, taste preferences are learned, based on what you ate in the past. The more you eat, the more you enjoy, the healthier you get, and the more you eat – it’s a win-win-win cycle!
The latest data offers more confidence than ever before that the results are not due to chance or a limited study on vegetarian and vegan diets and a number of different health outcomes. The key conclusions are that vegetarians and vegans have better BMI (body mass index), total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, and glucose levels compared to omnivores. They also have lower rates of cancer and lower mortality from heart disease.
“That’s pretty good encouragement for making the switch,” she says.