One of the most powerful steps you can take to improve your health, boost energy levels and reduce your impact on our environment, is to move to a plant-based diet. Many scientists praise the health benefits of transitioning towards a plant-based diet over meat and processed foods. Moving in this direction can help achieve better health and easier weight management while enjoying a variety of delicious meals. And living in Michigan, many resources for locally grown vegetables and fruits are available right here in our community.
The best part, you don’t have to completely change your diet to make a difference. Start off by making adjustments to some of your favorite recipes. Try adding rice, beans or other hearty vegetables in place of meat in a soup or casserole recipe. Substituting plant-based milk alternative in your recipes and for daily use is just one small way you can have an affect. As you become more accustomed to these changes, you’ll find plant-based meals can be just as delicious, healthier and have less impact on our planet.
View the presentation by Dr. Bob Breakey on Plant-Based Health from AFFEW’s November 12, 2020 VIRTUAL Annual Meeting.
Dr. Bob Breakey’s Eight Keys to Health and Success
Eat for Health | Choose abundant vegetables, whole grains, fruits and all types of beans, along with some nuts and seeds (including 2 TBSP of ground flax seeds) daily. Minimize, and ideally eliminate, animal foods – meat, dairy and eggs — and minimize refined sugar, oils and other processed foods. Fill your pantry with health supporting foods and make a conscious choice to eat when you are hungry and to choose foods with both great taste and great nutritional value.
Drink Water | Water is our natural beverage and thirst quencher and makes up about 70% of our bodies. Beverages with caffeine, alcohol, sugar, fat and/or a host of artificial ingredients slow you down, interfere with sleep cycles, increase the risk for obesity and should be enjoyed only on occasion.
Avoid Cow’s Milk | Cow’s milk and its associated foods: Cheese, yogurt and ice cream, are derived from “nature’s perfect food for baby cows” and are a totally unnatural component of human nutrition. No other mammal drinks milk after infancy, and most of the world’s human population has “lactose intolerance” meaning they get diarrhea and bloating right away if they drink milk. Cow’s milk is more than half fat, high in saturated fat and cholesterol and most of the rest (70%) is sugar. Milk proteins contribute to allergy, autoimmune disease, chronic kidney disease, mucus production, acne, osteoporosis and the promotion of breast, colon and prostate cancers. Cow’s milk always contains bovine estrogen and is nearly always contaminated with antibiotics, growth stimulants, bovine leukemia virus, pus cells and environmental toxins. Many other non-dairy alternatives are now readily available (i.e. soy, rice, coconut, cashew, flax or almond “milks”, cheeses, yogurts and ice creams). Calcium needs are easily obtained by eating “beans and greens”.
Eat Fiber | Health supporting whole foods contain dietary fiber. Avoid white bread, white rice and white pasta that are just metabolized quickly to sugar once they hit your digestive system. Whole grains like oats, brown rice, and whole grain breads, pastas and cereals are much more slowly digested providing consistent energy for your cells and abundant additional nutrients. They also support healthy bowel bacteria that help with hormone balance, detoxification of several toxins, overall colon health and immune function. Eat a broad variety of whole plant foods for the greatest effect and lower your risk of diabetes, heart disease and several cancers. Think “fiber in every bite” with plenty of vegetables, fruits, beans and whole grains while avoiding animal and processed foods that are devoid of fiber.
Be Active | Walk, run, dance, swim, jump, cycle, skate, ski, lift or whatever else gets you moving. Play and make it fun! Make daily physical activity a regular part of your routine and aim for 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week (think an average of 30 minutes 5 days/ week). Choose activities you enjoy that help you stay with your plan. Use stairs instead of elevators, park further away when you drive, and whenever you get the chance, “take the scenic route” under your own power.
Your Environment Matters | Avoid poisons and contaminants in your body by not smoking anything. Also, avoid even second or third hand smoke or tobacco exposure of any kind. Avoid other “recreational drugs”—they are a “dead end”. Choose foods low on the food chain and eat organic when practical. Use a good solid carbon water filter for clean drinking water and limit the use of pesticides and other toxins in your home environment.
Sleep Well | Plan time for 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night and develop good sleep hygiene habits: Develop a “wind down routine” an hour before bedtime with relaxing activities (no TV or Internet), a regular rising time each day, avoid caffeine, nicotine & alcohol, use your bed for sleeping only, limit naps and control your sleeping environment. With a good restful night’s sleep, you will enjoy more energy, improved concentration and better overall health.
Make Time to Relax & Play! | Stress is a part of life, but you can manage and harness it for the good by finding balance, prioritizing your responsibilities, setting and writing down challenging but attainable goals and making time for whatever form of adventurous play and/or peaceful relaxation that will help you to optimize your enjoyment. Make time for laughter, love and being with friends, family and others who share these same goals!
Download more Lifestyle Medicine Resources from Dr. Bob Breakey on Plant Based Health.
Below are links to a variety of plant-based recipes and more information on this healthy lifestyle.
- Harvard Health Publishing | What is a Plant-Based Diet and why you should try it?
- One Green Planet | 10 Vegetables That Can Substitute for Meat
- Stone Pier Press | Plant-Based Recipes
- Loving It Vegan | Good Vegan Food Made Easy
- Loving It Vegan | Vegan Enchiladas
- “How Not to Die” Michael Greger MD
- “How Not to Diet” Michael Greger, MD
- “How to Survive a Pandemic” Michael Greger, MD
- “Reversing Diabetes” Neal Barnard, MD
- “Forks Over Knives Plan” Alona Pulde and Matthew Lederman
- “Eat to Live” Joel Fuhrman, MD
- “The Pleasure Trap” Douglas Lisle, PhD
- “The Cheese Trap” Neal Barnard, MD
- “The Whole Heart Solution” Joel Kahan, MD
- “Whole” T. Colin Campbell, PhD
- “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease”- Caldwell Esselstyn, MD
- “The Starch Solution” John McDougall, MD
- “Empty Medicine Cabinet” Dustin Rudolph, PharmD
- “Proteinaholic” Garth Davis, MD
- “The End of Diabetes” Joel Fuhrman, MD
- “Fiber Fueled” Will Bulsiewicz, MD
- Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen
- 21 Day Vegan Kick start from PCRM
Social Media (Facebook)
- Plant Based Nutrition Support Group
- Chickpea and Bean
- Vegetarian Resource Group
- Fit Body Boot Camp
- Ann Arbor Vegan Kitchen
- Plant Based Nutritional Support Group
- Washtenaw Optimal Wellness
Do you have a link to a favorite plant-based recipe or website you’d like to share? Fill out the form below and we’ll post it after review.