House Calls

SUM 2017

House Calls Magazine is a quarterly publication that focuses on health and wellness. It includes a wide assortment of articles with topics on the latest health and wellness information, nutrition, safety, lifestyles, and more.

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E at your veggies—or more aptly, eat your plant-based foods: it may just be the single best piece of advice to help make all of us significantly healthier. Thanks to a wealth of research pointing to its myriad benefits, plant-based eating is moving into the mainstream, leaving the notion of vegetarians and vegans as "hippies" or "tree-huggers" in the dust. Tasty plant-based options abound on restaurant menus, with some Charleston hotspots—Gnome Café, Dellz Uptown, and Huriyali Gardens, to name a few—offering almost all vegetarian or vegan fare. And according to a March 2017 roundup by Bon Appétit magazine, "this spring's cookbook selection is not just vegetable-forward, it is vegetable-dominant." vegetarianism, which eliminates animal meat from the diet but not eggs or dairy. Rather, a plant-based focus offers the flexibility that Coulter believes is key. "I think the biggest trend—and a healthy approach— is to realize that you can limit and minimize while still enjoying everything. Think of it like a see- saw: If your meat intake is high, then tip the scales so that your vegetable intake is even higher." That approach may pay off in the long run: if a diet is too extreme, you could wind up ditching it, says Coulter. "It's not about perfection, it's about progress." By tipping the scale in favor of fresh, whole foods and reducing the main components of the standard American diet, there's proven progress to be had. For example, the World Health Organization and The American Cancer Society have advised that reducing processed meat, including hot dogs, ham, sausages, or meat preserved using smoke or salt, can substantially reduce the risk of colorectal cancer in particular. Meanwhile, research shows that plant-based fare does the opposite. "Epidemiologic studies consistently show that eating fruits, veggies, beans, and whole grains is associated with a reduced risk of cancer," Coulter says. "Vegetables naturally have a wide array of phytochemicals, which are thought to interfere with a number of cellular processes involved in the progression of cancer." Studies show plenty of other plant-based eating benefits, too, including lowered heart disease mortality; a lower body mass index; significantly lowered risk of type 2 diabetes; and greater longevity. In fact, the longest-living societies around the world (those with the most centenarians)—known as the Blue Zones—eat a mostly-plant-based diet. "There's all this nitty-gritty science behind it, but the bottom line is, eat your veggies," says Coulter. "You don't have to be vegan; you can tailor it to you," she says. Sarah Coulter, MS, RD, LD P H O T O G R A P H ( S A R A H C O U L T E R ) B Y M A R G R E T W O O D 32 { summer 2017 } h o u s e c a l l s The good news is that the umbrella of what defines "plant-based" eating is wide, determined more by what the diet includes rather than what it excludes. Here, Roper St. Francis dietitian Sarah Coulter, MS, RD, LD, reveals how flexible it is—and how its benefits are critical to our waistlines and our health. According to the USDA's 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines, roughly half of all American adults have one or more chronic diseases, often related to poor diet. High in refined, processed, and animal-based foods, the standard American diet (often referred to by its apt acronym, SAD) is also high in saturated fat, calories, sodium, and added sugar. And those equate to increased disease risk and plentiful pounds: more than two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese. "In South Carolina, we have far higher instances of obesity, stroke, and diabetes than other regions in the United States, so our diet may be particularly 'sad,'" Coulter says. In contrast to the standard American fare, a plant-based diet primarily consists of whole foods—fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds—and eliminates or minimizes processed foods, added sugar, and animal meat, says Coulter. Eating plant-based doesn't always equate to veganism, a diet that excludes all animal meat and animal products such as eggs and dairy, or In need of ingredients? Look out for the local mobile farmers market Lowcountry Street Grocery (lowcountrystreetgrocery.com). WHAT IS PLANT-BASED EATING? WHAT ARE THE PERKS?

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