Health Benefits of a Plant Based Diet

A 2018 survey showed that there are 3.5 million people in the UK living on a plant based diet.

Whether you are vegan for the animals, the environment, an athlete wanting to improve performance or you just want to feel healthier, we all know that eating more fruit and vegetables is healthy but what would the health benefits be if you switched to a plant based diet full time?

Richer in certain nutrients
If you follow a healthy plant based diet, research shows that you will have a diet richer in certain nutrients. With the elimination of meat and dairy, you will be consuming a more varied diet including more fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
Studies show that vegans tend to consume more antioxidants, fibre, magnesium and potassium than meat eaters. These micro nutrients are great for protecting against disease and keep your body healthy. Eating a fibre rich diet will keep you feeling full, protect you from disease and will keep your gut health on point.
Interestingly on average, most vegan protein powders have 3-5 times more fibre than whey protein powder and between 50-100 percent of the daily recommendations of vitamins that most whey powders have none of. So just by switching your daily post workout shake to a vegan brand, you could already experience benefits!

Protecting against serious disease
Vegans tend to have a higher life expectancy, living between 7 and 10 years longer than omnivores.

More and more studies are showing how meat and dairy consumption is linked to cancer. According to the World Health Association, 1/3 of all cancers could be prevented by diet and it is thought that vegans have a 75 percent less chance of getting cancer in their life.
Research shows that eating a portion of legumes a day can reduce your risk of colorectal cancer by 18% and eating a diet with 7 portions of fruit and vegetables a day can lower your risk of cancer by 15%.
Too much oestrogen in the body is linked to breast cancer and oestrogen levels can be increased by consuming animal fats. Eating a plant based diet lowers oestrogen levels.

Heart Disease
Heart disease is one of the top killers in the Western world and vegans have a 75% lower risk of developing high blood pressure. Dr Kahleova notes that a plant based diet has the power to not only prevent heart disease but also sometimes even reverse it! With plant based diets lowering the risk of a heart attack by up to 94 percent! This is due to the fact that vegans will naturally have a lower cholesterol level, therefore avoiding the risk of furring up the arteries with plaque and also reducing the chance of suffering with high blood pressure.

*Risk of heart disease based on diet

Vegans tend to have lower blood sugar levels and higher insulin sensitivity; people who follow a plant based diet have a 78% less chance of getting diabetes. Many clinical trials have demonstrated that a low fat vegan diet can reverse type 2 diabetes.

Cutting out dairy often helps to clear out airways and can help asthma sufferers with their symptoms, going vegan can prevent chronic airway diseases and helps to protect your lungs.

Recover better and improve athletic performance
Some of the world’s top athletes have turned to plant based diets to help improve their performance. Athletes such as Venus and Serena Williams, Lewis Hamilton, David Haye and Jermaine Defoe all follow a plant based lifestyle.

The more phytonutrients you consume, the faster your body will recover from exercise induced inflammation. Thanks to a plant based diet being rich in nutrients, it can reduce inflammation and combat oxidative stress therefore reducing the time it takes to recover.

Weight loss
Eating vegan tends to reduce your calories so in turn you can eat a higher volume of food and lose weight. Studies frequently show that vegans have a lower BMI and find it easier to lose weight and keep the weight off.

Mood Boosting Effect
A plant based diet is rich in phytochemicals that help to regulate chemicals within the brain that control your mood.The phytochemical quercetin is only found in plant based foods and works like a natural anti –depressant by increasing the amounts of serotonin and dopamine within the brain. Foods rich in quercetin are kale, berries and green tea.

On the other hand, people who eat meat consume higher levels of arachidonic acid (a type of fat only found in animal meat) and this promotes changes in the brain due to an inflammatory effect and in turn can disturb your mood.
A recent study divided 39 meat eaters into 3 groups and asked them to either follow a plant based diet, a meat based diet or to eat as a pescetarian. After two weeks the people following a plant based diet scored significantly better in tests related to stress and mood.

With the help of an antioxidant rich plant based diet, your mood can be significantly improved, repair damage and decrease inflammation in brain cells. A wholesome plant based diet can decrease your risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Improved immune system
A plant based diet increases levels of vitamin c which in turn can help boost your immune system and protect you from illnesses like a common cold.

Vegans are less prone to food poisoning as food bourne illnesses, bacteria, parasites and chemical toxins are more common in meat and seafood.
If you suffer with migraines, following a plant based diet can help as migraine attacks are linked to eating cheese and chocolate

Better Skin
Eating a diet full of micronutrients and vitamin c helps to improve your skin. Acne is linked to eating dairy products, so removing these from your diet will help to clear up your skin.

Better sex life
Foods that boost circulation to your brain and other organs will in turn boost your sex drive. A diet rich in cayenne pepper, dark chocolate and sunflower seeds will boost circulation and help you feel healthier. On the other hand, foods that are high in saturated fats present in animal products can clog your arteries and stop blood flowing as freely.

If you already eat a healthy diet, you will understand how much food effects the way we feel, with more and more research showing to us how beneficial a vegan diet is to our health, why not try and transition to a more plant based lifestyle and feel amazing!

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