There are many reasons why so many people are choosing to follow a vegan diet. Veganism helps preserve the planet and opens the door to delicious new foods and flavors. Perhaps most importantly, it can also have a transformative effect on your health. When you incorporate more vegan foods into your diet, you reduce your consumption of animal hormones, saturated fat, and cholesterol typically found in animal products while increasing your intake of fresh fruits, veggies, and other whole, plant-based foods. This dietary change has the power to significantly improve your overall physical wellbeing. I have put together the following list of 5 ways that veganism can positively impact your health.
1. Reducing cholesterol. Cholesterol, a lipid found in the blood, is necessary for regulating certain cell functions. However, our bodies already produce all the cholesterol we need, so it can be detrimental to consume more than necessary. High levels of cholesterol in the blood can cause plaque to accumulate on artery walls, which damages the blood vessels and increases the risk for heart attack and stroke. According to the National Institutes of Health, heart disease is the primary cause of death for men and women in the United States. While animal products are the only dietary-based sources of cholesterol, a well-planned, plant-based vegan diet contains no cholesterol! Not only that, but many vegan foods like oat bran, flax seeds, garlic, almonds, walnuts, and whole barley also help actively lower cholesterol levels and protect against the damage that high cholesterol causes.
2. Reducing inflammation. Inflammation is our bodies’ “alert system” that indicates the presence of infections, pathogens, injuries, or irritation both externally and internally, but too much inflammation is not healthy. Chronic inflammation is often caused by the consumption of inflammation-inducing foods such as refined sugar, anything processed, wheat and gluten, trans fats, and animal products. Choosing to eat an abundance of plant-based, whole foods will help heal your body and counteract the harmful effects of inflammation. Veggies like kale, spinach, cauliflower, carrots, and beets are packed with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and they act as a natural remedy for your body. Spices such as turmeric, ginger, and garlic are also natural anti-inflammatory agents.
3. Aiding digestion. Digestive health affects almost every aspect of our physical wellbeing. If you experience symptoms such as heartburn, constipation, pain in the intestines, gas or diarrhea, your digestive system is crying out for help! Eating the wrong kinds of foods can destroy the gut lining, unload toxins, and feed the microbes that contribute to a leaky and painful gut. By eating a vegan diet rich in fiber-filled, plant-based, antimicrobial foods, you can drastically improve your gut health. Eating high-fiber vegetables like kale and zucchini will boost bowel regularity and eliminate toxins. Adding healthy, antimicrobial fats like coconut oil to your diet can reduce bloating and ease the effects of candida, toxins, bacteria, or parasites on your digestive system. Even eating one avocado will give you 54% of your recommended daily fiber intake, and the high levels of potassium and magnesium will help prevent constipation. By introducing these kinds of nutritious vegan foods into your diet, your gut health will flourish, leading to more overall energy, an enhanced metabolism, and better sleep.
4. Improving skin. Passing on dairy products and meat while ramping up your intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and beans is a recipe for clear and radiant skin that glows from within. Cutting out animal products will reduce your intake of unnecessary animal hormones that can cause breakouts. Replacing these foods with high water content fruits and veggies like cucumbers, watermelon, and cantaloupe will hydrate your skin and plump out fine lines. Not only that, but a vegan diet is also typically high in vitamin C, which is great for boosting collagen production. You can find it in foods like papaya, strawberries, oranges, kale, lemon, cauliflower and garlic.
5. Preventing disease by changing the body’s pH from acid to alkaline. When we’re born, our bodies have a perfectly alkaline pH of 7.4. The body is designed to thrive in an alkaline state, wherein it can optimally perform necessary functions like absorbing nutrients, eliminating toxins, and fighting disease. Eating a diet of refined sugar, processed food, meat, dairy, and alcohol increases the body’s acidity. Any pH lower than 7.0 is acidic and can lead to numerous health problems. In an effort to restore its ideal pH, the body will leech alkalizing minerals from organs and tissues to help defend against the acid. This process can cause cell damage if it continues for too long. You can combat acidity by reducing meat and dairy consumption and incorporating more plant foods instead. Vegan foods such as citrus fruits, green vegetables, parsley, onions, and garlic are incredibly alkalizing. Since disease cells require an acidic environment to proliferate, and an alkaline body has more robust immune defenses, eating alkalizing vegan foods can decrease the risk for cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes.