9 Health Benefits of Going Vegan
By Karen Reed
You'll hear many people they're going vegan to save animals. There are people who view any form of eating meat or using animal products as cruel and inhumane. This even includes the use of dairy products, which don't kill the animals, although can take food sources away from the young.
However, there are some vegans who opt for it purely for their health. It's not that they're against meat eaters, but that they want to protect their bodies. This can mean cutting out foods that upset their gut or add more, unnecessary saturated fats in their body.
There are science-backed benefits of opting for a vegan lifestyle. Researchers have found that a healthy vegan diet is something worth considering. If you're not too sure yet, then investigate these nine benefits that are completely backed by researchers when it comes to the vegan lifestyle.
1. It's a Nutrient Powerhouse Diet
The vegan lifestyle means that you get plenty of nutrients into your diet. The Western diet with animal products and meat-based recipes is okay, but you can often reduce your micronutrient intake. You can find yourself lacking in the likes of healthy vitamin A, zinc, magnesium and more. While you think you're getting them through your meals, the non-vegan diet is stopping your body from fully absorbing all the nutrients.
With a vegan diet, you stop replacing the fruits and vegetables with the animal foods. Meat tends to take up the bulk of a recipe, which isn't the way it should be. With a vegan lifestyle, you'll get more nuts, peas, beans, legumes, and more.
There's a common misconception that the vegan lifestyle will mean you lose out on nutrients. This can be the case if you don't think about replacing the animal foods properly. Many vegans find they lose out on protein, vitamin B12, calcium and some of the fatty acids. However, with the right substitutions, you can find you get enough.
For example, nuts are good sources of fatty acids and zinc. You can get protein and vitamin B12 from legumes and beans. Don't forget about your dark leafy greens for your calcium intake. You'll be surprised at where some of the nutrients can come from.
If you are worried, there are also healthy supplements. Protein powders (not from whey) are excellent options. You can also get a B12 supplement suitable for your vegan diet. Talk to your doctor if you are worried, but you'll find a lot of support now for your vegan choices.
2. You Can Lower Your Blood Sugar Levels
The Western diet isn't the best for blood sugar levels. In fact, there's a growing concern of people suffering from Type II diabetes. The Vegan lifestyle can help to rectify that. It's all about the types of foods you choose to eat.
Studies show that almost half of vegans have been able to reduce the amount of diabetes medication they need, compared to just over a quarter of non-vegans. This means the diet is helping to reduce the blood sugar levels, helping to rectify some of the damage caused by previous high sugar intakes. The bodies become more sensitive to the insulin, meaning they don't need help or need to produce extra for low levels of glucose.
On top of that, studies have shown that those on a vegan diet have a 50-78% lower chance of getting Type II diabetes in the future. This benefit can be seen in both individuals with no signs and those who have been diagnosed with prediabetes.
This is likely due to the change in food focus. People on a vegan diet focus more on whole grains and fiber-filled foods. These foods break down slowly, keeping the sugar levels down. Chocolate, candies, and other refined foods are usually skipped because they involve animal products in some way. While there are vegan alternatives, people on a vegan diet tend to live a healthier option day-to-day.
3. Reduce the Risk of Kidney Failure
The meat diet isn't the best for the body, especially in a high consumption. Some studies show that those following a vegan diet have reduced the risk of their kidneys not functioning properly. This is usually due to switching the type of protein they consume.
Animal proteins can have a few side effects on the body. Plant proteins may be slightly weaker for the muscles, but they are healthier for the organs overall. They help to encourage properly production levels, especially within the liver and kidneys.
This is something that still needs to be researched in full. However, it's a positive sign for those who have been diagnosed with early kidney damage or problems.
4. Some Cancers Can Be Avoided
The World Health Organization states that about a third of cancers are affected by the diet and other aspects of your control. That means you could minimize the risk of third cancer by taking steps to change your lifestyle. The vegan lifestyle is one that you want to follow.
Legumes have shown a 9-18% chance of reducing the risk of developing colorectal cancer. Meanwhile, eating more fresh fruits and vegetables a day offers a 15% chance of reducing the risk of dying from cancer. There are so many nutrients in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes that they can help to protect the cells. The problem with a meat diet is you either substitute the good for the meat or the saturated fats make it harder for the body to absorb all the right nutrients.
There are also studies that show soy products help to considerably lower the risk of developing breast cancer. This is possibly due to the hormones in meats that can interact with a human's own hormones. Soy doesn't have any of these and this is a substitute that vegans turn to in most of the cases.
Processed meats, smoked meats, and using high temperatures for cooking animal products have all been linked to developing cancer. Dairy products have also shown an increased risk of developing prostate cancer. So, by opting for a vegan lifestyle you instantly cut out all these foods.
Of course, there are other factors involved. You can't eliminate all risks of developing any type of cancer. However, you can reduce the risk of developing or dying from some.
5. You Could Reduce Arthritis Pain
If you suffer from arthritis, you'll want to look at the food you eat. Studies show that a vegan diet can help to reduce the symptoms of arthritis, which includes the pain experienced. This is linked to the inflammation in the body that animal products can cause.
You will need to make sure the diet is rich in the right nutrients for this benefit. One of the downsides of the vegan diet is reducing the probiotic yogurts. You'll need to find vegan alternatives, as the studies involved probiotic-rich vegan foods.
People in the studies followed a vegan diet for six weeks. They saw better energy levels and lower pain levels, especially in those who suffered from rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Those who eat a plant-based diet can add more good bacteria. This helps to battle against the bad bacteria in the gut that causes the inflammation within the body. Most who followed a vegan diet also found they ate fewer foods their bodies were sensitive to, reducing inflammation and increasing the number of nutrients absorbed into their body.
6. There's a Lower Risk of Developing Heart Disease
Heart disease is a silent killer and is a major problem. It's one of the main killers in women around the world and part of the risk factors is linked to your diet. Those who eat more meat are more likely to consume saturated fats. These will increase the blood pressure and cholesterol levels, putting more strain on the heart, affecting the arteries, and disrupting the blood flow.
People on a vegan diet showed a 42% decreased risk of dying from heart disease. In fact, those on a vegan diet showed a 75% decreased risk of having high blood pressure, which is a precursor to heart disease. The cholesterol levels in vegans were also much lower than in a meat eater.
The lower blood sugar levels also come into play. Insulin resistance and high glucose levels affect the whole body. The metabolism becomes sluggish and confused, so calories are stored when they should be. The blood pressure is then affected, which can cause problems for the heart. If the vegan diet can help with the blood pressure levels, it shouldn't be that surprising that it can also help to prevent heart disease.
On top of this, vegans are more likely to eat foods that are good for the heart. Whole grains, nuts, and vegetables have all shown benefits for the heart muscle.
7. You Can Lose More Weight
If you're overweight, you may want to reduce the number of animal products you consume. They are higher in fats, which means they're higher in calories. There are high chances you've seen diets suggest cutting out certain meats, dairy products, and a few other animal products. Those on a vegan diet are more likely to consume plant-based food and see more weight loss.
Studies do back this benefit up. Over an 18-week people, vegans were able to lose 9.3lbs more than their meat eater counterparts. Other studies show that vegans are more likely to be thinner. And you just must look at the celebrities to see the benefits. The likes of Gwyneth Paltrow follow raw vegan diets and have kept their trim shape.
The studies with weight loss also factor in meat eaters on a calorie-restricted diet. The meat eaters would need to reduce portion sizes, and this could lead to them feeling hungry. Meanwhile, vegans could enjoy more food because it was naturally lower in calories. They didn't get the hunger pangs, which meant cravings disappeared. This helped to stick to the diets to lose weight.
8. Improve Physical Fitness Levels
There are many people who will tell you that the vegan diet isn't good for those who like to train and do exercise. This is often due to the claim that vegans don't get enough protein. Of course, if you eat a balanced and varied vegan diet, you will be able to increase the amount of protein you consume.
Studies have shown that vegans have an improved physical fitness level than meat-eating counterparts. It's not just about the protein levels for stronger muscles, but about the other nutrients to help support the recovery period. A vegan is more likely to recover in a shorter space of time, which helps to get back to training sooner and look after the whole body.
Vegans are also less likely to suffer injuries. They don't consume the foods that can weaken bones and tissues. They are also more likely to lose weight, which puts less strain on their bodies.
Some studies show that vegans are also more flexible and have better endurance levels. This will be linked to the lack of saturated fats and the extra nutrients to support the health of joints and heart.
Of course, this really is only the case when a balanced diet is followed. Vegans can need to use supplements to ensure they get enough calcium and protein to support their physical stance.
9. You'll See Lower Cholesterol Levels
You consume cholesterol through the foods you eat. People only consume cholesterol through animal products, whether through meat, eggs, milk, or other products. You don't get cholesterol from plant-based foods. This instantly tells you that vegans are going to have lower cholesterol levels than vegetarians and meat eaters.
Bad cholesterol levels can lead to blocked arteries and a higher risk of heart disease. Your doctor will encourage you to take steps to reduce the levels of the body, which means looking at changing your diet. The vegan lifestyle can help considerably.
Your body will naturally create the good cholesterol levels, so there's no need to worry about them. The vegan diet just helps to keep those levels to a minimum, protecting the body naturally.
Is a Vegan Diet Right for You?
There will be many people telling you to follow one diet or another. It can be difficult to choose. A vegan diet does have its health benefits, and these aren't just random claims by your vegan friends. The diet can help to prolong life, reduce the risk of various diseases, and support exercise levels.
You will want to follow a healthy and balanced vegan diet. It's important to look at all the nutrients you're consuming to make sure you get enough protein, vitamin B12 and more to gain all the above benefits.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Positive Health Wellness.
Project goal: To create an environmentally friendly and sustainable alternative to leather, in this case using fungi.
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