Before we move on to the health benefits of veganism, we will cover some basics for beginners who just entered the world of veganism. A vegan (pronounced vee-gun) does not consume any animal products.
This means no eggs, no dairy products and no meat of any kind. Many vegans also avoid honey and some even do not use or wear products made with animal fur, skin, bones, and etc. Healthy vegans eat a wide variety of foods to ensure they get all the necessary nutrients that their body needs, such as vitamin B-12, iron and proteins.
There are many sources of these nutrients in the vegan diet, so it is just a myth that vegans tend to suffer nutritional deficiencies. Most Vegan diet followers are actually looked upon as radical animal rights activists; however, Vegan diet has tremendous health benefits as well. Not only it can prevent diseases such as cancer, Type II diabetes and heart disease; it can also reverse and prevent arthritis, osteoporosis and can fight obesity.
Nutritional Benefits :
- Vegan dieters have significantly lower BMI compared to their omnivorous counterparts.
- Vegan diet can improve cardiovascular health as it is significantly lower in saturated fats.
- The high fiber content of the vegan diet can lower the risk of colon cancer.
- The diet is great for bone health, as it is high in Magnesium, which aids in better absorption of calcium
- Vegan dieters look younger and prevent premature aging, thanks to the high antioxidant content of the diet.
- The diet is high in potassium which is crucial for having a healthy heart.
- The alkaline content of fruits and vegetables reduces inflammation caused by acidic diets.
- This prevents pain in the joints and other areas of the body.
- The detoxifying effects of the diet can be seen in the form of improved health of the kidney.
- The high levels of vitamin C in the diet boost immunity to prevent chronic conditions and seasonal disorders.
- It also benefits the gums and provides anti-aging benefits.
Disease Prevention :
- As stated above, the diet eliminates toxins from the body. Its high vitamin C content can fight many illnesses and infections including tumors, macular degeneration, seasonal flu, colds, coughs, dental problems and so on.
- The diet does not contain cholesterol that is normally available in meat based and dairy rich diets.
- According to the American Diabetic Association, the diet is easiest to follow when you want to manage or prevent type II diabetes.
- Some preliminary research has shown that the diet can prevent and even reverse cancers like colon cancer, breast cancer and prostate cancer.
- Dairy consumption has been linked with rheumatoid arthritis. Reduced dairy intake in this diet can benefit patients who have this condition.
Beauty and overall Health Benefits :
- Vegan diet is known to benefit the overall health of the skin, nails and hair, since the diet is rich in fruits and vegetables containing antioxidants.
- People following this diet are likely to have higher energy levels.
- Bad breath and body odor can be eliminated thanks to reduced animal protein intake.
- Nuts, seeds and vegetables can benefit the skin and the complexion.
- Eliminating refined foods, sugars and unhealthy fats along with dairy and meat products can lead to lower BMI and reduced obesity.
- Veganism is known to cause some relief from chronic conditions like migraines.
Health Issues Linked With Meat Consumption :
Today, a lot of research is suggesting that excess meat intake can cause several diseases including cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
Cancer – Nearly 30% cancers in the world can be blamed on dietary approaches.
Several studies in Europe and America have pointed out that the rate of cancer in people who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet is a lot less than people who follow meat based diets.
A study published in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology has also suggested that those who eat less meat reduce their risk of cancer.
Heart diseases – Red meat is rich in amino acid called L-Carnitine.
This compound reacts with certain enzymes to produce TMAO or Trimethyl-Amine-N-Oxide.
In rats, this substance is known to cause atherosclerosis or blockage of arteries.
This also increases the risk of heart attacks. Diabetes – Red meat contains iron, sodium and nitrates and too much consumption of red meat can lead to increased blood pressure and insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance is the condition where the body is not able to react to the insulin produced which leads to an excess production in the body – a condition called hyperglycemia.
Nitrites and nitrates also cause a similar reaction. Iron, which is otherwise needed for the body, if consumed excessively, it can cause oxidative stress.
Obesity – Many studies have shown that over consumption of meat can cause obesity.
Vegan diets are naturally low in fats and calories and can help in weight management.
Research is also showing that meat eaters have obesity rates nine times that of vegans.
Neurodegenerative diseases – Many neurodegenerative diseases like the Alzheimer’s and the Parkinson’s disease are now being linked to high animal protein consumption.
Certain proteins in red meat get deposited in the brain leading to decreased cognitive functions.
Also, the high iron content in meat can, over time, result in excess iron buildup in the brain giving rise to dementia, Alzheimer and Parkinson like neurodegenerative diseases. Osteoporosis – Meat based foods contain more phosphorus than calcium. This unbalanced ratio can lead to hypocalcaemia which can, over time, lead to bone diseases.
Also, the digestive processes needed for digesting red meat can lead to an acidic residue. This has to be counterbalanced with alkaline food. However, if your diet does not contain adequate alkaline foods, then the acids may be leached from the bones.