9 Unexpected Benefits Of Vegan Diet

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A heart shaped plate full of vegan food items like strawberries, carrots, avocado, lentils and more.

Benefits Of Vegan Diet | Understanding veganism | Health Concerns/Risks | Who Should | Who Should Not | Tips To Follow

A vegan diet is one subset of the plant-based diet that involves abstaining from eating any animal products, including eggs, dairy, and honey.

Proponents of veganism claim many benefits to following a plant-based diet.

A vegan diet can be extremely healthy and provide all the necessary nutrients, but it’s important to do it right. This means getting enough calories, protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals.

There are many health benefits of following a vegan diet.

Understanding the benefits of a vegan diet

A vegan diet is one of the plant-based diets that has continuously grown in popularity over the past decade.

There are many health benefits associated with following a vegan diet, including:

1. Weight loss

Veganism is an effective weight loss strategy. Vegan diets are predominately plant-based.

Whole grains, fruit, and vegetables are naturally lower in calories than animal products. Therefore, many people follow a vegan diet for weight loss.

Studies [1]National Library of Medicine: A plant-based diet for overweight and obesity prevention and treatment observed that participants in a randomized vegetarian diet, like a vegan diet, lost an average of −2.02 kg more than the participants assigned a non-vegetarian diet.

2. Lower blood sugar levels

A vegan diet can also help to lower blood sugar levels. Animal products are the main source of saturated fat in the diet, which can lead to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

Vegan diets are naturally lower in saturated fat and contain more fiber, which can help to improve insulin sensitivity.

3. Lower blood pressure

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease. One study [2]National Library of Medicine: A plant-based diet and hypertension found that vegan diets can help lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

4. Lower LDL “bad” cholesterol levels

Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) cholesterol is the “bad” type of cholesterol. The dramatic rise in high LDL cholesterol levels is associated with an increased risk of a heart attack.

Meat, dairy products, and eggs are usually rich in saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol.

Researchers reviewed 49 studies [3]National Library of Medicine: Association between plant-based diets and plasma lipids: a systematic review and meta-analysis that compared plant-based diets with omnivorous diets and found that individuals consuming healthy plant-based foods had lower total cholesterol when compared to the ones on an omnivorous diet. 

Moreover, low-fat, plant-based diets reduce LDL levels by about 15 to 30 percent.

5. Reduced risk of cancer

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States. According to studies, vegan diets protect against cancers [4]National Library of Medicine: VEGETARIAN DIETS AND THE INCIDENCE OF CANCER IN A LOW-RISK POPULATION linked to obesity, elevated IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor 1 hormone) levels, and insulin resistance.

Obesity and high IGF-1 levels can cause certain female-specific cancers.

Moreover, vegans also consume a substantial amount of foods made from soybeans. Soy foods are rich in phytoestrogens, which may reduce the risk of breast cancer.

6. Improved digestion

A plant-based diet can improve digestion due to its high fiber content. Fiber helps to keep you regular and prevents conditions like constipation and hemorrhoids.

A high fiber intake has also been linked with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer. [5]National Library of Medicine: Dietary Fibre Protective against Colorectal Cancer Patients in Asia: A Meta-Analysis

7. Increased energy levels

Vegans tend to have higher energy levels due to the fact that they consume more nutrients and fewer toxins than those who eat meat and other processed foods. 

This is likely because plant-based foods are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants while low in saturated fat and refined carbohydrates. High intakes of saturated fats and carbohydrates can cause daytime sleepiness and fatigue.

8. Improved kidney function

Kidney function tends to decline as we age. However, vegetarian diets, like a vegan diet, can help to improve kidney function and prevent the worsening of kidney disease. [6]National Kidney Foundation: What is a Plant-Based Diet, and Is It Good For Your Kidneys?

This is likely due to the fact that a vegan diet decreases the amount of work your kidneys have to do to filter out toxins from animal-based foods. 

9. Decreased inflammation

Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury or infection. However, chronic inflammation can lead to serious health problems such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. A vegan diet has been shown to decrease inflammation throughout the body due to its high antioxidant content. 

Understanding veganism

Understanding “what is veganism” is essential to know how it affects the environment and your health.

Veganism is more than just a dietary practice. It is a lifestyle, an ethical choice. Veganism involves choosing to lead a life that involves as little violence and exploitation of animals as possible. 

A part of this lifestyle is a vegan diet. This is a plant-based diet that excludes all animal products, including eggs, dairy, and honey. Vegans also avoid using any products that contain animal-derived ingredients, such as leather and wool.

There are many different reasons why people choose to follow a vegan diet. Some people do it for ethical reasons, while others do it for health reasons.

Whatever the reason, veganism is a valid lifestyle choice that comes with many benefits.

Arguments against veganism

Vegan diets may not suit everyone. Here are some potential risks of vegan diets to consider:

1. You may miss out on important nutrients

A vegan diet can be healthy, but it’s important to make sure your body gets all the nutrients it needs. Without animal foods, getting enough vitamin B12, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and iron can be difficult.

2. You may have lower energy levels

Animal products are a good source of protein and other nutrients that can give you energy. If you do not maintain a healthy, nutrient-rich vegan diet, you may find yourself feeling tired more often than usual.

3. You may have digestive problems

A vegan diet is high in fiber, which is great for digestion. However, if you are not used to eating a high-fiber diet, you may experience digestive problems such as bloating, gas, and cramps. [7]Mayo Clinic: Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet

Who should go on a vegan diet?

  1. People with ethical concerns for animals can go for a vegan diet as it does not require killing animals for food.
  2. People with health conditions like heart disease, and cancer, may benefit from a vegan diet as it is rich in antioxidants and fiber. However, it should only be done under the guidance of a health professional.
  3. Vegan diets are also recommended for people who want to lose weight as they are low in calories and help to reduce cravings.
  4. Women trying to become pregnant [8]Plant Based News: A Vegan Diet Is The Best For Fertility: Here’s Why can also opt for a vegan diet as it helps them lead a healthy lifestyle.

Who should not go on a vegan diet?

  1. A vegan diet can be healthy for children and teens, but it’s important to ensure their diet accommodates all the nutrients they need for proper growth and development.
  2. Older adults can find it challenging to go on a vegan diet. They may need to supplement their diets with vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids.
  3. Vegan diets may not be appropriate for people with certain health conditions, such as anemia, kidney disease, and digestive disorders.
  4. Pregnant and breastfeeding women who are on a vegan diet or plan to start following one need to be extra careful. They need to ensure they get enough nutrients, such as iron, folate, and vitamin B12.
  5. Athletes need more protein than the average person, so they may need to supplement their diets with protein powder or other protein-rich foods if they insist on following a vegan diet.

Tips to make your vegan diet healthier

If you’re going to follow a vegan diet, there are a few things you can do to make sure you are getting all the nutrients your body needs:

1. Eat a variety of plant-based proteins

You can eat many plant-based proteins on a vegan diet, such as beans, lentils, tofu, and tempeh. Eating a variety of these foods will help you get all the amino acids your body needs.

2. Get enough fat

Vegan diets tend to be lower in fat than omnivorous diets. This is fine as long as you get enough of the right fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids(which are rarely found in plant-based foods). 

You can get your healthy fats from foods like flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and seaweed.

3. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are essential for good health. Make sure to eat a variety of different colors of fruits and vegetables to get the most benefit.

4. Supplement with vitamins B12 and D

Vegans should supplement with vitamin B12 since it’s not found in plant foods. Vitamin D supplementation is also a good idea since it’s difficult to get enough from food sources alone. 

Consume more foods that are fortified with vitamin D. You can also buy vitamin D supplements that are readily available at most health food stores.

5. Drink plenty of water

Water is essential for good health, and it’s even more important on a high-fiber diet like a vegan diet. Make sure to drink eight to ten glasses of water daily to stay hydrated.

Conclusion

Veganism is a lifestyle choice that comes with an array of health benefits. If you are considering switching to a vegan lifestyle, consider these benefits and tips mentioned above to ensure you are following this diet healthily.

Consult your doctor beforehand to make sure a vegan diet is right for you.

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