Health and Beauty: Plants and their benefits

Plants produce the oxygen we breathe, the food we eat, and are the basic building blocks to most items in the world, like clothing or medicines. Without plants, we would not be able to live.

First of all, plants are the most basic food source for every breathing creature. The beef from cows comes from those cows eating plants. The most straight-from-the-earth foods are the common fruits and vegetables seen in produce aisles in the supermarket. Cereals, like rice and noodles, come from grains. Non-meat derived protein comes from soy and legumes.
Good news for vegans, it is actually possible to live completely off of a plant-based diet. It is hard and it does take motivation for those who have grown up eating meat, but it is passible. Different plants contain different nutrients that the body needs in order to survive and strive. For example, vegans eat a lot of soy and legumes to get their protein intake. Supplements may also be needed if one is still not getting enough nutrients from their vegan food choices.

By now the term antioxidant has become a favorite tagline for health nuts. But what and where do these antioxidants come from? Plants have what are called secondary compounds, which are basically chemical defenses produced by plants for protection against predators and pests.

Some secondary compounds have antioxidant properties. Antioxidants fight off free radicals, which are caused by stress and pollutants. Free radicals can cause cancer and other life threatening diseases. Common foods with high antioxidants include the berry family, like blueberries and cranberries, tomatoes and green vegetables are others, just to name a few.
The sound of natural, herbal remedies is appealing to most. Even though herbal remedies are neither FDA approved nor is there very much scientific research done on the efficacy and safety of it, people are still into it. Herbal remedies may actually work or it could be all in our heads. Either way, if a user finds that it works for them, they will keep going back for more. Just be sure to use the remedies as directed by the herbal expert or supplier.

More than 25 percent of medications commonly used in developed countries include plant-derived materials. For example, ipecac is used to induce vomiting in cases of poisoning and aspirin like compounds come from willow bark. Aloe is extremely common for skin treatments and lotions, not just to sooth sun burns after a day of unprotected sun exposure.
Plants not only create food and health benefits for us, but also fiber, fuel, dyes, rubber, other aesthetics like perfumes and pretty décor and so much more. So next time you think about stepping on flowers or breaking branches off of trees just be reminded what nature has provided.