8 Reasons All Medical Foods Should Be Plant-Based and Organic

Keeping your body strong and healthy means feeding it premium fuel. Choose wisely.

If you’re consuming medical foods, you surely need them for your health. So it makes sense that you’d only choose products with the highest-quality ingredients.

That’s easier said than done, says Vanessa Millovich, DCN, RDN, a registered dietitian with Kate Farms. "While these foods are intended to help people with medical conditions meet their dietary needs, they’re not well-regulated for efficacy," she says.

For example, there are no rules against additives and no minimum requirements for essential vitamins and minerals, says Millovich. Some contain nutritionally poor ingredients, like corn syrup. Others have protein sources, such as dairy, that may trigger allergies or an immune response.

This is what sets Kate Farms apart—all our formulas use organic plant-based ingredients. These provide a high-quality foundation for a product meant to help you heal, explains Millovich. Here are eight reasons why.

Reason #1: Fiber is good for your gut

You have 100 trillion bacteria living in your gut right now. We call these little guys—collectively speaking—the gut microbiota. They influence your whole health: metabolism, immune system, mood, digestion, and potentially even disease treatment and prevention.

In many ways, your gut bacteria are as vast and mysterious as the Milky Way. About 100 trillion bacteria, both good and bad, live inside your digestive system. Collectively, they’re known as the gut microbiota. Science has begun to look more closely at how this enormous system of organisms influences (and even improves) health conditions, from heart disease to arthritis to cancer.

"If things aren’t going well in your gut, nothing’s going to work," Millovich says. So how can you keep your gut healthy? You feed it fiber. One study found that just 5 extra grams of fiber a day can have a positive impact on the gut microbiota. Fiber—especially non-digestible plant fibers called "prebiotics"—helps your "good" bacteria proliferate, Millovich explains. And that supports good health and aids healing.

Reason #2: Plant foods play nice with your heart

High-fiber foods have been shown to provide heart-healthy benefits, like lowering your LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels and reducing blood pressure and inflammation.

Unlike animal-based foods, plants are cholesterol-free and contain many plant-based nutrients—such as magnesium. Magnesium is an essential mineral found in the body. It is naturally present in many foods and is also available as a dietary supplement. It serves as a cofactor in more than 300 enzymatic reactions, such as those responsible for regulating blood pressure, glycemic control and lipid peroxidation, folate, and potassium.

All that makes plant-based a smart choice for those at higher risk of heart problems, such as those who are overweight or have type 2 diabetes, Millovich says.

Reason #3: Healing is easier

Medical-nutrition supplementation is important for preventing weight loss when you’re injured or sick. Low-quality, processed ingredients may hamper your ability to recover. In one rodent study, UCLA scientists found that high-fructose corn syrup may interfere with the brain’s healing process after head trauma.

Organic plant-based ingredients, on the other hand, provide a solid nutritional foundation to help your body heal—and no residual chemicals which may undermine that healing. (Some studies suggest that food additives such as emulsifiers can exacerbate inflammatory bowel disease.) All Kate Farms formulas have plenty of pea-based protein, which studies show helps you maintain muscle just as effectively as animal protein.

Reason #4: Blood sugar stays in check

Fiber helps regulate blood-sugar levels by slowing the absorption of carbohydrates, curbing spikes in blood sugar.

"When your blood sugar spikes, your body responds by releasing insulin, which tells your blood sugar to come back down," Millovich explains. "However, when that happens, you have this roller-coaster effect: When you fall from that huge peak, you get sick, tired, and incredibly hungry." Eat a sugary snack, and you’ll trigger another spike, putting the cycle on repeat.

Over time, this can lead to obesity, high blood sugar, and insulin resistance, placing you on a path to type 2 diabetes. In fact, some research suggests that a plant-based diet may help prevent, treat, or even reverse type 2 diabetes.

Reason #5: Plant foods may help boost your brain

Plant-based diets have been shown to prevent or slow cognitive decline in older adults. In one study, people who followed a healthy plant-based diet during midlife were up to 33 percent less likely to develop cognitive impairment than their more carnivorous counterparts.

It could be that the phytonutrients from plants help decrease inflammation and oxidative stress (both linked to cognitive decline), the study authors speculate. Plus, your gut microbiome can affect the nervous system. And like we mentioned, plant-based ingredients are good for your gut.

Reason #6: Avoid dairy intolerances

Many medical foods are based on dairy protein, Millovich says. But if you have dairy protein intolerance, that will trigger an immune response—and GI symptoms like vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.

What’s more, milk allergies are among the most common allergies in children—often rendering dairy-based products a non-option.

Reason #7: It’s good for Mother Earth

The production of plant-based protein requires less water and fossil energy than animal protein—100 times less water and 11 times less fossil energy, to be exact. Plus, organic farms use less energy, produce less waste, and have higher-quality soil.

Reason #8. Your disease risk may go down

Plant-based diets have been shown to reduce the risk of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. One reason: Plants are rich in phytonutrients, says Millovich. These function as antioxidants, neutralizing "free radicals" which are unstable molecules linked to aging and disease.

"If your health is compromised, you could benefit from an intake of phytonutrients," Millovich says, "whether to help with healing or reducing the risk of comorbidities."

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