There are diets and there is going vegan. It’s more than living on tofu alone and giving up yogurt. And more than environmental awareness and animal rights. A lifestyle choice that some embrace, others dread, and many doubt.
There are proven health benefits associated with vegan diet. Let’s see some reasons to go vegan.
One of the biggest benefits is the increased fiber intake – a properly planned vegan diet can contribute 41 grams of fiber per day. The insoluble fiber found in nuts, beans, whole wheat, cauliflower, potatoes, etc., keeps the gut happy and healthy. Soluble fibers found in oats, barley, peas, beans, carrots, citrus fruits, and apples lower the bad cholesterol levels, control sugar levels, and help in reducing calorie intake.
A diet comprising nutrient-rich whole plants and fortified foods is also rich in antioxidants, magnesium, potassium, folate, iron, and vitamins A, C, and E. There are some that argue about protein deficiencies, but experts contend that a well-planned diet can meet the nutritional requirements.
The high fiber options provided by a properly planned vegan diet can help reduce calorie consumption while keeping you full for a longer duration. Nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes tend to have less number of calories. Randomized controlled studies have found that well planned vegan diets enabled the loss of more weight than popular calorie-regulating diets. Many vegans even reported weight loss as an additional benefit derived from their choice of lifestyle.
A diet rich in whole grains, nuts, legumes, vegetables, and fruits can regulate blood sugar levels and improve insulin response. Several low-glycemic-index options are available, which can slow carbohydrate absorption, metabolism, and conversion to blood glucose. Many studies have found that vegans have the lowest risk for type 2 diabetes compared against other vegetarians and omnivores. A lower level of myocellular lipids (associated with insulin resistance) is also common among people who live on well-planned plant-based foods. The presence of heme iron (which increases oxidative stress and affects insulin resistance and glucose tolerance) and additives such as nitrosamine in meat is associated with a higher risk for diabetes.
For patients with diabetes, the vegan lifestyle is considered best due to several factors – lower saturated fats, increased fiber content, higher levels of antioxidants and phytochemicals, etc. Improved insulin response and lower blood sugar levels call for a lower dose of medication among diabetics who are vegans.
Vegan diet is rich in whole grains and nuts and offers several heart health benefits. Many heart-healthy diets include more servings of plant-based foods that are low in saturated fats. With plant-based diets, you can avoid LDL cholesterol, which is a primary component of atherosclerotic plaque, which can lead to heart attacks. Soluble fiber can reduce LDL cholesterol levels in the body. There is also the reduced risk for diabetes, obesity, and hypertension, conditions that increase the risk of heart disease.
Nutrients such as Omega-3 fatty acids (increase good cholesterol levels) found in nuts and potassium (reduces sodium levels) found in almonds, apricots, spinach, tomatoes, and soy are also great for the heart. You can eliminate reactive oxygen (formed by heme iron in meat) and trimethylene N-oxide (formed by carnitine found in meat and high-fat dairy) that have a negative impact on heart health.
Several studies have recommended diets rich in legumes and fresh fruits and vegetables to reduce the risk for cancers. Vegans do not consume meats that are smoked, processed, or cooked at extremely high temperatures, which are associated with many cancers. They also avoid dairy products that are purported to increase the risk of colon cancer.
Vegans are happier people, according to some studies. We are not just talking about the satisfaction of a lower carbon footprint and saving animals. Researchers found that vegans and vegetarians had lower scores in depression tests. The higher content of arachidonic acid in meat-based diets is attributed to changes in the brain that have a negative impact on the brain. Higher antioxidant levels in plant-based foods have a positive impact on stress levels.
We have shared a few scientifically proven reasons to go vegan. Vegan diets are said to have many more benefits – many sportspersons are switching to this lifestyle in order to improve their athletic performance; there are claims of preventing many diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, cataract, osteoporosis, and arthritis; the diet is purported to promote longevity and healthy skin, hair, and nails; excess hormones, antibiotics, and bacteria commonly found in meat and dairy products can be avoided.
A well-planned diet is the key to ensuring a sustainable switch to a vegan lifestyle. It is best to understand the body’s nutrition requirements before going vegan. Consulting with a nutritionist can help avoid any pitfalls such as nutritional imbalances.
Power your diet with genomics
At Mapmygenome, we can tell you about the diet pattern that works for you. Understanding your appetite, metabolism, fat storage capacity, possible nutritional deficiencies, and other relevant factors can help you make a long-term switch towards a healthy diet. It works like this:
- Our tests analyze your diet and physiology at the DNA level.
- Our genetic counselors then correlate these findings with health history and recommend action plans for a healthier life.
- Our nutrition counselors give you personalized diet advice and plans based on your DNA and genetic counselors’ recommendations.