Thursday, May 15, 2014

Naturally Beautiful: Healthy Eating

It’s time for another Naturally Beautiful post.  This time it’s about working on your beauty from the inside out.  Earlier in the week, I mentioned that I attended an FDA public meeting about pulmonary hypertension. While talking about treatments, a lot of people in the room talked about alternative medicine and approaching disease management holistically. It got me thinking about what I do in my daily life that would be considered “treatment.”

I do yoga. I meditate and I have a defined spiritual practice that includes reading, journaling, praying and sitting in silence for between 2 and 10 minutes a day. But what I kept going back to was my diet.
I’ve posted about my journey into veganism though I eventually settled on being vegetarian. I’ve also talked about raw foods and touted their benefits. After hearing other people talk about how their health has improved with dietary changes at the public meeting, I decided to transition back to a vegan diet for a while.
Wanna try it with me? I mean if every celebrity on the planet (at least that’s how it seems) can go vegan for 22 days, so can we! If not vegan, what about vegetarian? Every time you eat a carrot, an angel gets its wings.

I’m kidding. Seriously though, your body will experience countless benefits! (as an aside, why do people say “countless” and then proceed to make a countable list of things?? Annoying, right. Oh well. Don’t blame me. Blame society. ) Here’s a list:

You’ll ward off disease. This is the primary reason for my switch but seriously, vegetarian diets are more healthful than the average American diet, particularly in preventing, treating or reversing heart disease and reducing the risk of cancer.

You’ll keep your weight down.  Nothing wrong with that right? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and a division of the CDC, the National Center for Health Statistics, 64 percent of adults and 15 percent of children aged 6 to 19 are overweight and are at risk of weight-related ailments including heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

You’ll live longer. Everybody’s looking for the fountain of youth. Maybe it’s in your veggie crisper. If you switch from the standard American diet to a vegetarian diet, you can add about 13 healthy years to your life. Animal products clog your arteries, zap your energy and slow down your immune system. Meat eaters also experience accelerated cognitive and sexual dysfunction at a younger age.

You’ll reduce your risk of food-borne illnesses. I learned a lot about this while watching Food, Inc. It helped me a lot during my conversion. If you want the facts, the CDC reports that food-borne illnesses of all kinds account for 76 million illnesses a year, resulting in 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths in the United States. According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), foods rich in protein such as meat, poultry, fish and seafood are frequently involved in food-borne illness outbreaks.

You’ll have more energy. Both Lupus and PAH cause extreme fatigue. For a person who barely sleeps anyway (I go to sleep around 2:00 am most nights), anything that helps with energy is great. Balanced vegetarian diets are naturally free of cholesterol-laden, artery-clogging animal products that physically slow us down and keep us hitting the snooze button morning after morning. And because whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables are so high in complex carbohydrates, they supply the body with plenty of energizing fuel.

You’ll be more ‘regular.’ Ok, I promise I am not about to have a Dr. Oz moment but this is one of the bigger benefits of a vegetarian or vegan diet. Eating a lot of vegetables necessarily means consuming more fiber, which pushes waste out of the body. Meat contains no fiber. People who eat lower on the food chain tend to have fewer instances of constipation, hemorrhoids and diverticulitis.

You’ll save money. If you’ve ever been in the organic produce section of most markets, you might have laughed when you read that. Seriously though, there are ways to save. Visit your local farmer’s market and save some moolah. It can save you an average of $4,000 a year.

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