Plant-based nutrition during summer: the benefits

If you’re flirting with the idea of gradually cutting down on meat or if you already are a vegetarian and want to become vegan, summer is the best time of year to attempt it. From my personal experience and from the shared experience of many patients of mine, this time of year can make it easy for you, as we all have the tendency to eat light meals due to hot temperatures, with lots of fruits and vegetables, without feeling deprived. Even when going out, salads and dishes with vegetables seem more… alluring, as they’re light, colorful, summery and delicious. It all comes down to summer being a good time to try plant-based nutrition, which will support the immune system and restore balance in gut microbiome, which we all need, as the pandemic isn’t over yet and we need to be in our best health.

And if you’re wondering what more can vegan nutrition provide you during summer, here’s the full list.

More energy
Apart from protecting as from fatty meals and animal products, which not only make us gain weight, but also jeopardize our health, plant-based nutrition helps us get more fiber and natural sugars from our food, which give us the energy we need without causing blood sugar spikes. This means we stay full for much longer, we don’t feel bloated and lethargic, we maintain our energy and at the same time we benefit our digestive system, offering our system anti-inflammatory properties.  

Antioxidant protection
Fruit and vegetables are filled with antioxidants and vitamins we all need, not only during the summer, but all-year round. In the summer, though, when our skin is suffering from the sun, antioxidant protection from food is much needed in order to fight free radicals and support restoration mechanisms, while fighting inflammatory responses on our skin.

Contrary to what most people believe about vegan and plant-based nutrition, avoiding meat and meat products doesn’t necessarily mean buying expensive substitutes and superfoods. You certainly can incorporate them in your nutrition from time to time if you wish, but they’re not the rule –more like the exception. Fruit, vegetables, pulses, nuts and seeds are what you should seek for, which are the most nutritious foods you can pick, without worrying about the cost. Roasted vegetables, salads, greek “gemista” are very budget-friendly choices, definitely less expensive than meat. Even if you buy organic products –which I would recommend- the cost is low if you consume plant foods –and the benefits higher than anything.

Easier beach snacks
Forget the classic meatballs and turkey sandwich for the beach, which are fatty meals that keep you away from the sea longer, as you need time to properly digest them so as to feel safe to swim with no discomfort. Replace them with season fruit and vegetables and see how they give you instant energy, hydrate you and make you feel light and safe while swimming.

Light restaurant food
Vegetarian and vegan dishes in restaurants don’t make us feel bloated and depleted of energy, as they are not loaded with fat. On the contrary, they are filled with fiber from vegetables and pulses, which are good for our digestive system and our gut microbiome and at the same time they are full of vitamins and antioxidants. So, eating out as a vegan can be a good thing!

Better hydration
During summer, we all know that our fluid needs are higher, as our system loses fluids through sweat, urination etc. This means that it’s essential to stay hydrated in any way. Water and other fluids can do the trick, but plant foods like vegetables and fruit can also enhance hydration as most of them are 90% and more water. Being fully hydrated means better gut mobility, better digestion, more energy and glow!

Better gut health
I’m sure you’ve all noticed at some point that when on vacation, constipation is always a problem due to environment, sleep and water changes, but also because our nutrition and our timeline shifts drastically, confusing our system. A vegetarian or vegan nutrition during summer can surely help, as it’s loaded with indigestible fiber which aid gut’s mobility and help stool stay soft. Don’t forget you need to get 20-35gr of fiber a day, which is about 6 portions of fruit and vegetables a day. And remember the greater the variety, the better! Note that if you incorporate fermented foods (kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, miso) in your vegan diet, you’ll get even better results.

Have a great summer and while you relax at the beach, take a look at the nutrition plans in to see what suits you better and make a fresh start the new season.