Turns out there may be a simple helper to fight disease: legumes! At least some diseases anyway. Almost all of us have friends or loved ones who struggle with chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and even cancer. Wouldn’t it be great if we could prepare special foods to prevent, treat and maybe even cure these diseases? Believe it or not, research shows that you can! And some of the stars of the show are beans and lentils (legumes).
The American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) has researched various diets and “lifestyle” factors related to health. Their consensus is that a whole food plant based diet is the most effective for treating and preventing chronic disease. The other “pillars” of Lifestyle Medicine are adequate exercise, sleep, social connections, managing stress and avoiding unhealthy substances.
So what is a whole food plant based diet? It means eating mostly legumes (beans, peas, lentils, soybeans), vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds. As you can see from the plate diagram, try for half the plate filled with fruits and vegetables, one quarter whole grains and one quarter plant proteins – mostly legumes, nuts and seeds.
But the really interesting part about this diet and the ACLM research is that you don’t have to go 100% over to this diet to get some benefit. As shown in the “Dietary Spectrum” picture above, most people will be somewhere in the middle between a typical American diet and a whole food plant-based eating plan.
And best of all: ANY progress or movement toward a whole food plant-based diet will help treat chronic disease. In other words, if you can only eat legumes once a week, that is better than not at all. Gradually working up to eating legumes every day (or even multiple times a day) will provide even more disease-fighting benefit.
According to research collected by ACLM, chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers can be avoided, treated, and sometimes even reversed. That means patients with chronic disease who adopt a whole foods plant-based diet (or even close to one) have been shown to improve or even have their symptoms go away completely! And adopting this diet before you get sick may avoid these types of chronic diseases altogether!
I recently completed an ACLM online introduction to Lifestyle Medicine and Food As Medicine. If you are interested, you can take the free class yourself here.
In addition to the facinating research about the benefits of a whole food plant based diet, the class compares it to other popular diets such as low carb, keto and paleo.
So folks, you know what to do. Its beans and lentils for the win! You know where to get them (here).