Updated: Mar 23
In short, the answer is yes!
The Benefits of Whole Foods on Digestive Health
A healthy gut is essential for our overall wellbeing, and nowadays, there’s a decent amount of evidence that proves plant-based meals, raw, live foods, and fruits to be crucial for maintaining a healthy gut while also supporting weight loss. In this article, I’ll be sharing some of the evidence that presents the connection between gut health and lower body fat, the benefits of a plant-based diet on our overall health, and some simple steps that can be taken to smoothly transition towards a plant-based diet.
What’s Up with the Microbiome?
The gut microbiome is made up of trillions of microorganisms, also called microbiota or microbes, and it includes thousands of different species of not only bacteria but also fungi, parasites, and viruses. This incredibly structured community contributes significantly to the harmonious functioning of our digestive system and overall health. These tiny little microbes govern food digestion, vitamin production, and immune system control, so it is critical to do our best to maintain a balanced diet made up mostly of live foods that keep the gut operating properly and protect us from a variety of health issues.
The Impact of Whole Foods on Stomach Health
Living foods and whole, plant-based diets are excellent sources of nutrients that are good for keeping the microbiota in the stomach healthy. They’re high in fiber, prebiotics, and antioxidants, all of which play a very important role in the maintenance of a healthy bacterial balance within the GI tract. They contain little to no unhealthy fats and should also, at least in theory, not include any added sugars, both of which can cause inflammation and an imbalance in the gut bacteria. Most importantly, diets based on raw fruits and vegetables contain high amounts of fiber, which is vital for a healthy and well-functioning digestive tract. It also prolongs the sense of fullness, lowers cholesterol levels, and controls bowel movements.
Prebiotics are indigestible food components that promote the growth and activity of beneficial bacteria in the GI tract. They are basically food for the thousands of different microorganisms within our gut. Prebiotics are found in many different plant-based foods, but as some are more easily digested than others, here are a few of the best foods to get your daily dose of prebiotics:
Fresh, whole foods, especially raw fruits and vegetables, are our best source of antioxidants and phytochemicals. “What do we need these for” I hear you ask. Well, our bodies generate free radicals as the inevitable byproduct of turning food into energy; that’s not the issue, though. Free radicals are created when we are exposed to environmental toxins like pollution and radiation, but they can also be formed by stress, fear, and even vigorous exercise. Antioxidants are substances that generously give our cells electrons to use up, preventing damage from harmful molecules like free radicals. They are also involved in mechanisms that have the power to repair DNA.
Phytochemicals, such as beta carotene and isothiocyanates, are compounds found in plants that are responsible for giving fruits and vegetables their vibrant colors, and they also help to protect the plants from environmental stresses like UV radiation and pests. In a similar way they provide protective benefits to our own cells and tissues while also stopping the formation of potential cancer-causing substances within the cells.
Antioxidants and phytochemicals are the two types of molecules that have been shown to massively lower inflammation in the body and help fight toxicity buildup.
Providing the body with enough water, plant fiber, and a gut full of healthy bacteria is the key to a life of no more constipation, excellent digestion, a healthy amount of weight, and enough energy to power up our days. Live foods have the power to provide our bodies with these critical nutrients, such as fiber and water, while also regulating and supporting our immune systems.
Moving Towards a Life of Living Foods
I’ve written a “Practical Guide For Your Journey Towards A Plant-Based Diet” which provides in more detail the steps that can be taken to make this transition easy. Still, I wanted to share a couple of tips that have helped many people I’ve worked with move towards a diet consisting mostly of whole, plant-based foods.
Don’t Rush: Gradually increase your intake of plant-based foods, and don't try to change everything at once. Begin by adding a few meatless meals per week, working your way slowly up to having mostly plant based foods, and eventually to having fewer cooked meals and more raw fruits and vegetables
Mix it up: The beginning can sometimes be a bit hard which is why it’s important to eat a wide range of plant-based foods as it ensures you get all the essential nutrients your body needs while also keeping your meals interesting.
Plan your meals: Meal planning can help you incorporate more plant-based foods into your diet and prevent you from resorting to less healthy options when you're hungry and short on time.
Be patient: Changing your eating habits takes time and effort. Don't be discouraged if you encounter challenges along the way. Focus on the long-term benefits of a plant-based diet for your gut, your weight loss goals and your overall wellbeing.
Whole, living foods are essential to a well functioning gut, sustainable weight loss and overall health due to their high fiber content, prebiotic properties, and ability to reduce inflammation. Incorporating a variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds into your diet can help you achieve a balanced gut microbiome and support your weight loss journey. Transitioning to a plant-based diet may require some effort and patience, but the long-term benefits to your gut health and overall well-being are well worth it.
Love, Light & Joy,