Whether you’re one of these people who puts value on New Year’s resolutions or not, you can’t deny that the start of 2018 feels like a fresh beginning. The new year holds many promises, both for the plant-based movement and on a more personal level. It also turns out that these two intersect in January with the Veganuary movement, a 30-day challenge counting more and more participants every year pledging to only eat plants.
Setting health and lifestyle goals every year may have its critics but we prefer to have an optimistic outlook. That’s why, we at One Green Planet, believe that ‘Eat Plants and Chill’ should be your motto in 2018. If you’ve been looking for words to live by to help you implement positive changes in your life this year — no matter what they are — this motto could be it!
Endive Salad With Crispy Chickpeas/One Green Planet
Research shows that adopting a plant-based diet or simply including more fresh fruits and vegetables on your plate on a daily basis has tremendous benefits on our physical and mental health. If there is one thing that makes life and achieving our goals easier, it’s having a sound mind in a sound body! Focusing on all aspects of our inner well-being, from our immune system to our brain chemistry can help us be more productive, focused, and open to the challenges and joys 2018 has in store for us.
Curious, and want to know more? Here are 5 ways in which ‘Eating Plants and Chilling’ can change your life for the better this year:
1. Better Sleep
Sarah J. Poe/Flickr
We all know the importance of catching enough zzz’s but the impact our food choices has on our circadian rhythm is not common knowledge. A diet high in fat, caffeine, and other stimulants can give rise to insomnia while on the flip side, eating a wide variety of nutrient-rich plant-based foods has a positive effect on our sleep. Healthy carbs such as whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables, which are staple foods on a plant-based diet, are a good source of tryptophan molecules that help our brain produce sleep-inducing neurochemicals.
Want to know more about what foods to eat to get your 8 hours every night? Check out these 10 Foods You Should Eat for a Good Night’s Sleep.
Turmeric Tofu Cashew Curry/One Green Planet
January is a time where our immune system is particularly challenged. Icy weather and rampant viruses and colds take a toll on us if we’re not careful. If we consider the fact that most people quit their resolutions in the first few weeks of the year, focusing on staying healthy certainly can help prevent that. Obviously, keeping our immune system in tip top shape is important during the rest of the year as well which is why we advocate eating a plant-based diet year round.
It’s no secret that fruits and vegetables are the best sources of vitamins and minerals around. As you probably know, getting enough micronutrients is paramount for our immune system. Getting enough vitamin A and C, magnesium, folate, zinc and iron, especially, contributes to producing the proper balance of antibodies we need to fight off pathogens.
Curious about what specific foods and recipes can help you strengthen your immune system throughout the seasons? Check out Natural Plant-Based Foods to Boost Your Immune System and 10 Foods That Will Boost Your Immunity During Flu Season.
How to Make Your Own Kimchi/One Green Planet
Nothing puts a hamper on our daily activities as much as a troubled digestion. As you know, getting plenty of fiber is important for an efficient digestive system. Eaten on a regular basis, plant-based staples such as whole grains, starches, fruits and vegetables, give our body the necessary soluble and insoluble fiber to help things ‘move along’. Aside from fiber, other nutrients found in plant foods also play an important role in our digestion. Magnesium, B-vitamins, and fatty acids found in dark leafy greens, grains, potatoes, and fruits are all essential for proper functioning of our digestive system. These vitamins and minerals help our stomach produce bile and maintain our gut bacteria at an optimal level.
Want to know more about how your diet choices impact your gut for better or for worse? Check out Digestive System a Mess? Check Your Diet for These Culprits. Then, read on how to Improve Your Digestive Health in Just One Week With These Eating Tips!
4. Calmer Mind
Many things can help us find our inner zen — a good self-care routine, meditation, a stress-free environment — but did you know that food has the power to calm an overactive mind too? Not only that but also reducing our anxiety levels and alleviating symptoms of depression? Yes, adding more plants to our plate this year can do all that!
How? Well, the foods we eat form the building blocks for our brain’s neurochemistry. Vitamins and minerals such as B-vitamins, chromium, iodine, and iron are directly involved in the production of dopamine and serotonin, two types of neurotransmitters that play a role in mood regulation. Getting enough amino acids and fatty acids from healthy plant-sources also helps our mind as proteins and fats are converted into chemicals our brain needs to keep our mood stable.
5. More Productivity
Let’s face it, we all wish there was more hours in a day. Especially as we have so many goals and aspirations for ourselves at this time of year. While we’re bound to 24 hours, there are ways to increase how efficient we are at using these precious hours. You’ve guessed it, eating plants can help with that too!
Our brain is responsible for more than 20 percent of our total energy expenditure each day. Nourishing it with the proper amount and quality of food can help us be more attentive and motivated throughout the day. Eating carbohydrate-rich plant-foods such as whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables ensures that we get a steady supply of fuel while the fiber content in these foods keeps us from crashing.
All in all, choosing plants that are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants is the way to go!
What are your goals for 2018? Are you participating in Veganuary? Let us know in the comments if ‘Eat Plants and Chill’ will be your motto this year!
As always, if you’re looking for delicious recipes to nourish you and sustain your mental and physical health this year, we highly recommend downloading the Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 10,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to new recipes every day. Check it out!
Lead image source: Shutterstock