We began last week talking about veganism, the keto diet, and the differences between the two. Both are healthier options to the standard American diet but they are opposite due to the fact that a keto lifestyle includes meat and animal products while a vegan diet includes absolutely zero. One of the things I’d like to focus on today however, is the effects that a vegan diet can have on the body. As I mentioned last week, there are all kinds of rumors and assumptions that swirl around about living a vegan lifestyle and there’s so much information online to sift through. So today I thought I’d simplify it and break down three of the amazing benefits that have been found to come from consuming a plant-based diet.
Benefits of living a vegan lifestyle
- Consuming more nutrients – There is a rumor going around that cutting meat out of your diet can be dangerous because you need certain nutrients you can only get from animals and that’s just simply not true. By consuming more fruits and vegetables, you’ll be taking in more fiber, which is very important for the proper function of your digestive system, along with more vitamins, minerals, and all-around nutrient-dense foods. With the increase in fiber, you’ll also have the benefit of feeling more satiated, which will keep you from snacking and that’s always a plus! The only true nutrient you cannot get from a vegan diet is vitamin B12. This nutrient manages red blood cell levels, prevents birth defects, may prevent osteoporosis, fatigue, vision, improves mood and depression, preserves neurons, heart health and so many other factors within the body. However, you can get vitamin B12 easily as a whole food supplement.
- Protection against heart disease and cancer – Research has shown that increasing your consumption of foods like legumes, soy, fruits, and veggies may reduce the risk of certain cancers like colon, breast, and prostate to name a few. Processed meats and meats that are cooked at high temperatures are believed to be contributors to certain types of cancer so avoiding them could possibly lower your risk. As for heart disease, a vegan diet lowers your bad cholesterol levels especially, and your total cholesterol levels overall, which we know helps to lower your risk for heart disease.
- Reducing inflammation – According to the Arthritis Foundation, a study conducted in 2015 on 600 people who followed a vegan diet for 6 weeks showed a decrease in C—reactive protein, which is a marker for acute and chronic inflammation. If you’ve noticed, there’s been a lot of buzz about inflammation in the body over the past few years and that’s because people are waking up to the reality that inflammation in the body is a huge factor for many illnesses.
As you can see, consuming a well-balanced vegan diet can have some important health benefits, but the keyword here is “balance.” I mentioned last week how some people will eat Oreo cookies because they’re technically “vegan,” but obviously this is only beneficial to your taste buds and not your health. If you’re interested in switching to a plant-based diet, make sure you do your research. Talk to your doctor and get your nutrient levels checked to see what you may be lacking so that you can make sure you’re supplementing properly. And don’t be afraid to ease your way into it. Take your time and start with small substitutions like, almond milk instead of dairy, or cutting back on meat to two or three times a week. Be kind to yourself. Your digestive system and your appetite will thank you for it!