America, we are raised on meat, potatoes, and milk. We never knew any better: those foods were supposed to make us big and strong, and keep our bones and teeth healthy.

Now contrary to popular belief, we have begun to examine why a plant-based diet can not only prevent disease states, but reverse them. In my opinion, the documentary Forks Over Knives was ahead of its time, and I am thrilled to see the upcoming Plant Pure Nation. (Speaking of, you can check out a screening of the film in Ft Myers).

In my recent article, The Surprising Reasons Consuming Less Animal Protein May Save Your Life, I examine just those claims: why a plant-based diet is much healthier for you than one based on animal products. Limiting or eliminating animal protein—which includes both meat and dairy—offers nothing but health benefits.

First, let us go back to basic chemistry. We all learned about pH, and acid versus alkaline states, in our high school classes: a pH of less than 7 is acidic, and more than 7 is alkaline. Neutral pH is 7: what clean water should be. Blood has a pH of about 7.4, which is lightly alkaline. Maintenance of an alkaline pH is essential for prevention of disease and cancer states and immunity and beneficial bacteria function optimally in alkalinity. Basically, your body thrives in an alkaline environment. Processed foods, excess sugar, antibiotics, micronutrient deficiency, Candida overgrowth, alcohol, sleep deprivation, stress, overconsumption of animal protein…these are just a few sources of over-acidity. (Plant Fueled Fitness is popping up everywhere…so maybe this is worth checking out?)

So how does overconsumption of animal protein cause an acidic state in the body? We know that proteins are made of amino acids, however, the proportions for animal protein is different from plant protein. There are more sulfur amino acids and complex amino acids in animal protein, both of which make the body do extra work to break it down. To neutralize the acidity from animal protein, the body, which likes to be alkaline, will leach calcium from bones and cause it to be excreted through the kidneys, which can lead to osteoporosis and kidney diseases, such as kidney stones and gout.

Plant protein alkalizes the body, thus reducing many disease states, including issues as varied as osteoporosis, diabetes, heart disease, inflammatory disorders—even cancer. If you grew up thinking that milk does a body good, this may sound absurd, but if you investigate the science behind these claims, there is solid evidence to the contrary. In short, alkaline diets are better for you, and they are rooted in plant-based proteins.

As an integrative physician, I educate my patients on the benefits of alkalizing the body while educating them on proper diet and lifestyle modifications, which includes reducing or eliminating animal protein while increasing plant protein, consuming alkaline water, getting adequate sleep, and addressing micronutrient and hormonal imbalances.

Being vegan or vegetarian does not have to be equated with being skinny and weak, but instead lean and strong. Some plants contain almost twice as much protein as their animal-based counterparts. The key is to educate America on how to be preventive in regards to health, instead of waiting to fall sick and then trying to repair the issue at hand. Everyone is in control of their health and wellness, so be proactive. Get armed with knowledge and make proper choices to not only gain quantity of life, but quality. Take good care of your body: it is the only place you have to live.

Editor’s Note: We here at Fit Nation Mag are very excited about the upcoming documentary Plant Pure Nation, which will be screening in Ft. Myers on July 23rd. Find information on the film and how to buy tickets to the premiere here.

Interested in a vegan diet? Read on…

Mental Athletes and Their Vegan Diets

Vegan Chilled Tomato Soup with Guacamole Recipe

Complete Protein Vegan Quinoa Salad Recipe