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Given the strange and stressful COVID times we find ourselves in, trying out a plant based diet will be the farthest from your mind. With so much uncertainty and feeling completely ungrounded, it is natural for us to go back to the things that make us feel safe and nurtured. Remembering our childhood and preparing food in that very same way is sometimes one of the ways we use to cope with stress. At other times we eat the same way, purely out of habit.
However, this January or veganuary, it is even more important than ever before to maximise your plant foods. Here are some of the reasons:
1. Diet comes first.
Diet is the foundation of your health, the foundation of your immune system. While supplements play an important role in optimizing our nutrients, it only ‘supplements’ our diet. So a colourful diet rich in whole plant foods is the basis where you can start building your health.
The word ‘phyto’ originates from the Greek word phyte which means plants. There are more than 25 000 phytonutrients in plant foods. You would be hard pressed to find that equivalent in any supplement . Phytonutrients are anti-inflammatory, act like natural antibiotics, prevents cancer, have anti-oxidant properties and provide support for the immune system.
3. Alkalinise your diet
Our immune system thrives on an alkaline diet. Dairy, eggs, meat, alcohol and some grains are typical acid forming foods while fruits, vegetables and plant-based protein foods are generally considered alkalinizing, or non-acidic foods. If you are sick, I would definitely avoid dairy and egg for a period of ten days to heal faster.
4. Decrease your risk by managing your comorbidities.
So we’ve seen with Covid-19, that those with obesity, diabetes, insulin resistance and other co-morbidities increase their risk of complications after getting sick. Ditching the meat and dairy for plant foods is going to help prevent, reduce or reverse your chronic conditions. Now, more than ever, plant based foods should be the basis of your meals.
5. Challenge your brain.
Routine is awesome. Routine cooking is even better. We can mindlessly cook an entire meal with minimal effort. Cooking and eating is very important but it can become mundane and boring. Trying out a new recipe or using vegetables you’re not familiar with is a great brain workout and the experience becomes fun and memorable. This brain workout will also help towards dementia prevention. This Veganuary try some new dishes. Challenge yourself.
7. Help prevent pandemics
Past pandemics including Covid-19 is believed to originate in animals or have a link to the animal kingdom. Us humans need to heal our fractured relationship with this planet. We know that dairy and meat cows are one of the largest producers of green house gasses. We also know that we’re encroaching more and more on the habitats of animals, destroying jungles and forests. We’re also coming into contact with more ‘wild’ animals. All of this creates the perfect storm for future pandemics. How do we prevent it? Increasing your plant foods will address all these issues at once.
In conclusion, I am not saying that everyone out there should be vegan. But if you can maximise your whole, plant foods, then you’re also maximising your resilience, thereby being able to fight whatever infection you’re faced with. 2021 has just begun. One small step in the right direction is all you need to take each day. Believe in yourself and that you can do it.