A healthy vegan diet with whole foods has many health benefits. When unhealthy lifestyles cause chronic diseases, a vegan diet may help us prevent some of them.[martfury_empty_space height=”50″]
Vegans do not eat animal products including meat, fish, dairy, eggs, and honey. A healthy vegan diet has whole grains, legumes, vegetables, fruit seeds, and nuts. It aims at minimizing the consumption of refined and processed foods.
People adopt a vegan lifestyle for ethical or environmental reasons. However, of late, many people choose a vegan diet for health reasons too.
We eat food to provide fuel for our bodies. However, our diet today does not fully provide adequate nutrition we need. The goal of any diet should be to improve our health.
A whole-food plant-based diet could lower the risk of certain life-threatening diseases. This diet is not only cost-effective, but studies show that plant-based diets may lower body mass index, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure.
Studies show that Patients with cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes have experienced an improvement in their condition by adopting a healthy plant-based diet.
Many life-threatening conditions like obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and hypertension are associated with an unhealthy lifestyle and poor dietary choices.
“Being a vegan is pretty easy these days, as almost every town and city has health food stores and vegetarian-friendly restaurants.”
Coronary heart disease is one of the most common types of heart diseases. This occurs when the arteries that supply blood to the heart gets clogged with plaque. Plaque contains cholesterol and other substances. Heart muscle eventually weakens when there is less supply of oxygen.
Thus a person with this condition is at risk of developing heart failure. A blocked artery could also lead to a stroke. Raised cholesterol levels are a result of poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle. Saturated fats raise cholesterol levels in the body. And, animal products are the main source of saturated fats.
A healthy vegan diet encourages the consumption of fruits and vegetables. Thus, a vegan diet is rich in antioxidants, fiber, phytochemicals, and folic acid. This helps in reducing the blood cholesterol levels in the body, thus lowering the chances of a stroke or heart failure. Higher consumption of whole grains, seeds, nuts, and soy also have cardioprotective effects.
According to WHO, worldwide obesity has tripled since 1975. Unfortunately, most of the world’s population live in countries where overweight and obesity kills more people than underweight.
But there’s still hope because obesity is preventable. A healthy vegan diet could be the solution to a population with chronic illnesses. This could be our chance to reverse the situation.
The underlying cause of obesity is an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended. Studies show that vegan diets are more effective for weight loss than any other diet.
Plant-based diets are highly nutritious with complex carbs, water, and fiber. This may increase satiety. Data from the Adventist Health Study (AHS) have shown that BMI increases as the number of animal foods in the diet increases, such that vegans had the lowest BMI, followed by veg, pescatarian, semi-veg, and omnivorous diets.
Studies exploring the risk of overweight and food groups and dietary patterns indicate that a plant-based diet seems to be a sensible approach for the prevention of obesity in children.
“Being vegan helped me realize I can say and do what I believe is right. That’s powerful”.[martfury_empty_space height=”30″]
A vegan diet rich in whole grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits contain fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, unsaturated fatty acids, and phenolic compounds. Clinical trials and observational studies show that these foods improve the pathways involved in the cause of type-2 diabetes. Insulin sensitivity, obesity, blood pressure, etc are underlying causes of type-2 diabetes.
Studies show that non-vegetarians substantially increased the risk of both colorectal and prostate cancer than vegans and vegetarians. A vegan diet is rich in nutrients that help in removing the free radicals from the body. Free radicals create oxidative stress which leads to inflammation. When the body is under chronic inflammation it’s at a higher risk of developing cancer.
Vegans consume more fruits, vegetables, legumes that are rich in Vitamin C, fiber, and powerful antioxidants. These cancer-protective dietary factors are significant in a vegan diet.
Additionally, a whole food plant-based diet reduces the BMI, thus the chances of gaining weight or becoming obese are lower in a vegan. This further reducing the chance of getting cancer since obesity add to the risk. Data also suggests that following a vegan diet that is rich in isoﬂavone-containing soy products during childhood and adolescence protects women against the risk of breast cancer later in life.
This holds a lot of significance since we have been conditioned to think cow milk is more healthy to drink since childhood. Studies now show that high consumption of dairy during childhood increases the risk of colorectal cancer in adulthood.
More studies are to be done in this field to project a connection between a vegan diet and it’s effects on cancer prevention.
“I don’t see why someone should lose their life just so you can have a snack.” -Russell Brand
Most of us think turning vegan is a big challenge. Turning vegan is comparatively easier than adopting a healthy vegan diet. That requires planning, commitment, and discipline.
While a vegan diet cannot cure any prevailing diseases, it’s advised to follow this as a part of the lifestyle to prevent diseases. Also, people with obesity, diabetes, hypertension, etc would benefit by following this diet along with reduced medication. Nonetheless, people with any condition should consult a nutritionist before changing the current diet.
It is also important to choose vegan ingredients wisely to ensure adequate nutrition in the diet. Not all ingredients have complete protein in them. So choose combinations like brown rice and kidney beans, soya, tofu, etc. Choose foods that are rich in iron, calcium, vitamin-d. Additionally, it’s advised to take Vitamin B-12 supplements if required since vegan diets are deficient in this nutrient. A vegan diet thus helps in overall well-being if done right.
Nutritional Update for Physicians: Plant-Based Die
Association Between Plant-Based Dietary Patterns and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Health Effects of Vegan Diets