What does “whole plant food” mean? The word “whole” means “complete”. So, it’s nothing but eating fruits, vegetables, legumes, pulses, grains, nuts, and seeds in their natural form, i.e, without processing them in any way. Peeling, extracting, juicing, straining, polishing, refining, etc all remove some part of the “whole” and make it “incomplete”. Processing of any kind changes the natural form of the food and we end up eating foods that are not wholly nutritious or even harmful.
The question most of us will then ask is why do these foods work like magic to reverse diseases? Well the answer is simple: that’s the way nature works. Nature has put all that the human body needs in each and every plant based produce. Once we get close to nature and start eating real food, we understand that we were meant to thrive on the plant food that is in abundance all around us. All we need to do is to go back to the basic instincts we would have followed as children and not get manipulated and brainwashed by societal conditioning or shrewd marketing into eating foods that are going to make us sick.
Now let’s understand the fundamental concept of why or how Whole-Food Plant-Based (WFPB) nutrition works. For this we need to understand why we suffer from lifestyle diseases in the first place. The four main causes of disease are:
Protein (an essential nutrient) is one nutrient that has been overemphasized so much in the last few decades that we forget that other nutrients are just as important. But what is protein? In simple words it’s the nutrient for growth and repair. Yes, it’s absolutely essential for children because they are growing. It’s also necessary for the regular replacement of body organs through tear and wear. But once we’ve achieved the optimal growth, do we really need more growth? Moreover, no animal in nature focuses on isolated nutrients. No animal decides to eat certain foods only for protein, or only for calcium, or only for vitamins, and so on. We have been misled to focus on single nutrients, which can actually cause harm to our bodies because we end up consuming them in excess amounts. Excess protein is acid-yielding in the body and can result in acidity, kidney failure, osteoporosis, gout and even cancer “growth”. After all it is a nutrient of growth, isn’t it? Foreign protein that comes from other species (like meat, poultry, eggs, dairy, fish, etc) that enters the system can also trigger the formation of antibodies which can in turn trigger auto immune diseases.
All our organs, including the skin needs a good amount of oxygen to thrive. Fat slows down blood circulation because it thickens the blood and so puts pressure in pushing the blood through the arteries resulting in the increase in blood pressure. Excess fat thus also results in the reduction of oxygenation to every part of the body and therefore is the main cause of diseases like diabetes, hypertension, heart issues, obesity, etc. That is the reason we need to eat whole plant foods as they contain fiber along with the fat, which regulates the absorption of fat into the blood stream. It’s important to stay away from not just animal products that are high in saturated fats but also refined plant oils like coconut oil, olive oil, peanut oil, etc. None of these contain any fiber. All animal products, including skimmed milk, contain saturated fat and no fiber. Apart from fats, animal products also contain cholesterol whereas no plant is capable of producing it as cholesterol is produced by the liver.
Fiber is one of the most important factors required for good health and is given the least importance. Fiber slows the rate that sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream. The sugar in foods high in fiber, such as beans and whole grains is absorbed slower, which keeps your blood glucose levels from rising too fast. This slow absorption therefore regulates insulin response. This is also good because spikes in glucose due to foods that are low in fiber fall rapidly, making you feel hungry soon after eating and leads to overeating. Moreover, fiber rich food helps signal that you are full and so discourages overeating. Fiber also helps weight loss by slowing carbohydrate metabolism. A high fiber diet helps to keep food moving through your digestive tract and makes your intestines move faster. This is essential because humans have long intestines. Most importantly fiber prevents inflammation. Animal products do not contain fiber and move sluggishly causing toxicity in turn causing immune cells in the brain to become chronically inflamed which in turn causes loss of memory, etc. Fiber cleans your colon, acting like a scrub brush cleansing from within by cleaning out build-up in your intestines, also reducing your risk for colon cancer. Good bacteria in the gut feeds off of fiber, and when your microbiome is healthy, it’s a good indicator that the rest of your body is, too, because this boosts the immune system to help fight infections ranging from the common cold to more serious ailments, such as immune disorders and IBS. Apart from aiding digestion, a high-fiber diet helps keep you regular and also helps to have soft, regular bowel movements, reducing constipation and lowering the risk of haemorrhoids (or piles). So, indulge in fruits, salads and whole foods as all whole plant foods have plenty of fiber and no animal product has any.
Acidic foods are those that create an acidic environment after consuming them. Products that come from animals – meat and dairy – cause acidity. Meat is the hardest food for the stomach to digest, while milk creates excessive secretion of acid. Our stomach secretes hydrochloric acid in order to digest proteins. So obviously, a high protein diet requires the stomach to secrete more acid. When we consume high proteins, especially animal proteins, we intuitively desire acid as a way of assisting the stomach to digest it. For example, you’re most likely to order a glass of cola with a burger. Cola is pure acid and aids in the digestion of the burger (but either of these and the combination can result in symptoms of acidity). Carbonated drinks increase the pressure levels in our stomach causing acid re-flux. When you order a steak or some other meat concentrated dish, you’re likely to ask for wine as well. Again, an acidic combo! Refined white sugars, coupled with preservatives in processed foods create an acidic environment. Tea and coffee grow in acidic soils. Caffeine also leads to an increased secretion of gastric acid, not to mention the milk and sugar that goes along! Opt for fruits and dry fruits to combat your sugar cravings. And, of course, avoid packaged foods. Alcohol not only increases the gastric acid but dehydrates you too. Thirsty? Have a smoothie or even a glass of water or a freshly squeezed lemon juice-water combination instead! Antibiotics, steroids cause acidity. A whole plant based diet can help you get medicine-free. As is clear, all animal products, tea, coffee, alcohol, sugar, colas, antibiotics and steroids are acidic and hamper the digestive system. Fruits and most vegetables are alkaline producing, rich in antioxidants, full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, phytonutrients and contain lots of water. Packed with these, they aid and sustain our well-being. So, if we eat foods that are designed for our species, namely fruits and vegetables, we are less likely to be attracted to acid yielding foods such as tea, coffee, colas, alcohol, etc and consequently suffer less from acidic re-flux. So, to get rid of acidity, try a whole plant-based diet for just a few days and see the difference. If you are not used to having whole foods, then a sudden high fibre intake can cause acidity, so go slow initially. It’s great to have fiber, but it takes time for the body to get used to it.
I hope the explanation above has given you a rough idea of why we fall sick. All the above are the underlying causes of most health issues. We can break free from this manipulation of focusing on single nutrients and start eating foods that contain a bit of everything. Fruits contain proteins, vitamins, minerals, etc. and especially fiber, that are so good for our bodies. Vegetables contain the same. Legumes and pulses are rich in minerals and have enough protein too. Grains, if eaten whole, give us a feeling of satiety because of the high fiber content. Millets are powerhouses of nutrition. Nuts and seeds give us the necessary fat required by our bodies and get absorbed well in the whole form because of the high fiber content. Leafy vegetables are of course the best because of the high chlorophyll (which is rich in antioxidants and also promotes the formation of red and white blood cells) and fiber content that we may not get from other plant food categories.
What’s important to remember is that we should consume these in the whole form and not process them in any manner:
Most of the nutrients lie just below the skin of fruits and vegetables and so we don’t peel any as far as possible. The skins are also rich in nutrients and fiber. It’s also less time consuming to cook whole foods as we don’t do any peeling. Foods that are commonly peeled and shouldn’t be are: ginger, carrots, cucumbers, pumpkins, courgette, gourds, many fruits like apples, chickoos, pears, etc. Even garlic need only be washed if it is going to be ground up in a chutney or masala.
When we extract, juice, or strain after grinding, we’re taking out a very important component: fiber. So it’s best to avoid fruit juices including sugar cane juice as well as jaggery, plant milks that are strained, etc.
When we polish, we discard another important component: fiber and skin that contains nutrients. So avoid polished rice, dals, etc. Instead have brown rice, or pulses with the skins on, etc.
When we refine, we not only remove the fiber but also a major percentage of nutrients, and as the plant food undergoes a chemical process, we’re also ingesting foreign bodies that can cause havoc with our hormone system. So, it’s advisable not to consume plant oils and sugar. Instead use nuts and seeds (in small quantities) for fats and sweeteners like dates, raisins, dried figs, prunes, etc. And obviously refined flour is out. Instead, flours made from whole grains are incorporated in the food consumed.
Here’s a simple guide:
Eating a whole plant food diet means eating fruits, veggies, pulses, legumes, grains in the complete form. So no peeling, juicing, refining, polishing, straining, extracting, etc.
1. Eat carrots, pumpkin, cucumber, ginger, potatoes, etc without peeling.
2. Eat whole rice, so eat brown rice and not white rice that’s polished.
3. Eat whole wheat, so maida, which is refined flour, is out.
4.. Eat whole pulses, meaning those with the skin on like whole moong, whole massoor, whole urad, etc and not the dal with the skin off or which is polished.
5. Eat whole fruit and not juices. So juices in tetra packs or Maaza, colas etc are also out.
6. Eat coconut, sesame seeds, peanuts, sunflower seeds, olives, etc in the whole form, which means no coconut milk or coconut oil, no sesame, peanut, sunflower, olive, etc oils.
7. Eat dates, raisins, dried figs, etc. instead of sugar or jaggery. Both sugar and jaggery are highly processed without any fiber and acidic.
In simple words, eat fruit, veggies, pulses, grains, etc in as natural a form as possible. Of course, we need to peel oranges, drumsticks, pineapple, etc. But it’s easy to figure out which we can eat without processing once you start.
So all in all, let’s make it easier for our body to get the fuel it needs by eating only plant food that comes directly from nature, and consume it whole without messing it up in any way. And there’s no need to get overwhelmed. Start small. It’s easier when we start focusing on one ingredient/dish/meal at a time and slowly cover all of them. Most importantly, nutrients are spare parts for healing. Put in high-quality nutrients, and you will get high quality results for almost any illness. Food, indisputably, is the best medicine.
Here’s wishing our readers a wonderful whole-plant-food and tasteful journey to good health!
For more information about a whole-food plant-based diet, visit https://discoveringthewordofwisdom.com/wfpb-guidelines/
You can also know more from these very credible and amazing sites:
For more interesting, and mostly easy to make, whole-plant-food recipes check out www.sharan-india.org/healthy-recipes/
For a more comprehensive repertoire of healing recipes from around the world visit www.discoveringthewordofwisdom.com