With so many health benefits that come from eating a variety of plant-based foods, let’s explore all the ways it can help support a woman’s body.
With the rising interest in plant-based eating, women who are thinking about conceiving or are already pregnant are more curious than ever about how to approach it. With its many benefits, it’s no wonder plant-based meals and snacks are getting tons of well-deserved attention.
Before we dive into how plant-based meals can support your reproductive health, let’s first define what a plant-based eating pattern is and what it is not.
This may come as a surprise, plant-based does not (necessarily) mean vegan or vegetarian. Meat eaters who make fruit, vegetables, grains, beans, peas, lentils, nuts, and seeds (you know, plants) the bulk of what they eat, are still eating a plant-based pattern.
Plant-based is more about what you do eat than it is about what you don’t eat. So as long a larger proportion of your meals and snacks are made up of plants, you’re a plant-based eater. And you’re going to reap the many benefits of a plant-based way of eating.
So what are the benefits of eating a variety of plant-based foods?
Where do I even start? So much goodness to share! We’d literally be here all day if I named every single benefit of plant-based meals and snacks, so I’ll just list my top seven reasons to go plant-based.
1. Promotes Blood Sugar Control
Managing sudden blood sugar spikes and dives is one of the most important things we can do for our reproductive and overall health, especially if you have PCOS or insulin resistance. Fortunately, plant-based foods tend to be high in fiber, and many are high in protein and healthy fats as well. All of which are amazing at slowing down how quickly foods are broken down and absorbed. This allows for a more gentle and less dramatic rise and fall in your blood sugar. By keeping your blood sugar steady, you can enhance egg health, support healthy ovulation, and help harmonize your hormones.
2. Reduces the Risk of Ovulatory Infertility
Plant-based sources of protein are some of the most beneficial foods you can include in your meals and snacks when you’re trying to conceive. If you’re not eating beans, peas, and lentils and are able to tolerate them, give them a try. Not only are they tasty, inexpensive, and versatile, they’re also pretty well-backed by science to reduce the risk of ovulatory infertility. In fact, replacing a single serving of animal protein in favor of beans, peas, or lentils may reduce your risk by more than 50%. That’s a huge impact for such a tiny change.
3. Dampens Inflammation
Inflammation is normally seen in response to some level of trauma to the body, such as a cut, infection, or high blood sugar. Your body is resilient and was designed to handle short-lived inflammation. Chronic, ongoing inflammation on the other hand, can give rise to chronic disease and negatively impact our reproductive organs.
One way we can counter inflammation is by eating plenty of anti-inflammatory nutrients that are typically found in fruit, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, herbs, spices, and tea. You know, plants.
4. Improves Your Gut Health
Gut health, the microbiome, and probiotics are topics you’ve been hearing about a lot lately. It seems probiotics have become the cure-all du jour. And while probiotics get tons of attention, not nearly enough attention is paid to prebiotics.
Prebiotics are the nutrients found in the foods that make our intestines a more hospitable environment for good bacteria. You wouldn’t invite houseguests over if you didn’t have food and somewhere for them to rest their heads, would you? Keep the good bacteria happy and in balance by making sure they have what they need to flourish. Many plant-based foods just happen to be full of prebiotics.
5. Adds Tasty Variety to Meals, Simply and Easily
Food isn’t just a source of nutrients; it is also a source of pleasure. Which is why it’s so important that the foods we eat are enjoyable. After all, we have taste buds for a reason! Foods that you enjoy the appearance, flavor, and texture of are those you are more likely to eat. It doesn’t matter how “healthy” a food is if you don’t eat it or want to eat it.
Plant-based foods add color, variety, texture, and flavor to meals, making them more delightful, appetizing, and nutritious.
6. Lowers the Chance of Developing Endometriosis and Fibroids
While there are no foods you can eat that will 100% guarantee you won’t develop endometriosis or fibroids, you absolutely can reduce your risk of developing them by choosing to nosh on plenty of plant-based foods. Research suggests that eating plenty of vegetables can be protective against endometriosis. And including plenty of fruit and veggies into meals and snacks may help lower the chance of developing fibroids. Plus, plant-based foods, packed with fiber can help alleviate constipation, which is a common symptom experienced by women with endometriosis and fibroids.
By choosing nutrient-rich plant-based foods that support a healthy immune system, drive down inflammation, and taste good, you can help enhance both your reproductive health and overall well-being.
Plants are indeed our friends.
Adapted from the original article.
HEADER IMAGE: KAROLINA GRABOWSKA
Kendra Tolbert, MS, RDN, CDN, CLC is a registered dietitian nutritionist, certified lactation counselor, and certified aromatherapist based in Austin, TX. Through her private practice, she helps women and couples prepare for pregnancy and enjoy healthier, happier pregnancies. Learn more about Kendra at Live Fertile.