Breaking up your health journey into small, attainable steps may help you achieve your goals without the struggle.
You've been wanting to finally live a healthier life, but does it seem like a daunting task? Maybe you're thinking about all the changes you'd have to make or all the food you'd have to cut out. But it doesn't have to be a huge mountain to climb! Breaking up your journey into small, attainable steps may help you achieve your health goal without the struggle.
So what's the first thing you can do to start living healthier? Registered dietician Maya Feller says it's pretty simple: eat more plants!
Add Plant-Based Food to Your Diet
"Plants are an excellent source of fiber, vitamins and minerals that contain phytonutrients and antioxidants that support whole body health," Feller said.
Nutrients in Plant-Based Foods
Here are just some of the beneficial nutrients found in plant-based foods:
- Protein, which helps keep muscles and bones strong. Get it by eating legumes, nuts, seeds and soy.
- Vitamin C, which has antioxidant properties and supports a healthy immune system. Get it by eating citrus fruits, tomatoes, red and green peppers, strawberries and cooked Brussels sprouts.
- Zinc, which plays a key role in immune function and wound healing. It's even necessary for your senses of taste and smell! Get it by eating beans, nuts like cashews and whole grains like oats.
- Omega-3 fatty acids, which help support brain and heart health and may even help improve skin texture and reduce inflammation. Get it by eating walnuts, vegetable oil, flaxseed and leafy vegetables like kale and collard greens.
Benefits of Eating Plant-Based Foods
Feller says that filling your daily diet with these plant-based foods — and the vitamins and minerals they contain — can be associated with many health benefits. Feller points to a few key effects.
"Regular and consistent plant intake has been associated with lower blood sugars, lower blood pressure and improved lipid profile (cholesterol)," she said.
These plant-based foods can influence your gut biome, which helps with several bodily functions including strengthening your immune system, aiding with digestion and improving your mood. And just by swapping processed foods and added sugar for these plant-based options, you can help decrease your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
Maya Feller is a registered dietitian nutritionist based in Brooklyn. She provides medical nutrition therapy for the management of and risk reduction of non-communicable diseases. Maya is dedicated to promoting nutrition education that helps the public to make informed food choices that support health and longevity. Find her on Instagram, @mayafellerRD, and check out her book "The Southern Comfort Food Diabetes Cookbook: Over 100 Recipes for a Healthy Life."