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When you switch to a vegan diet, you’re cutting a bunch of stuff out.
You no longer eat meat, eggs, milk, cheese, butter, etc.
If it comes from an animal, it’s a no-no.
That’s scary, considering that our current diets consist of plant AND animal products.
Well, don’t worry, because a vegan diet can actually be pretty rich in nutrients that your body needs.
Here are the
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A Vegan Diet is Richer in Nutrients
To give some background, we started out with the Healthy Eating Index, a.k.a. HEI brought to us by the USDA. It’s a way to track the diet quality of people in a given population (the American population, in this case).
In short, the HEI promoted a diet lower in fat and higher in carbs.
Ok, cool. We’re getting somewhere.
Except for the chair of Harvard’s Department of Nutrition, Dr. Walter Willett says that ain’t gonna cut it.
According to Dr. Willet, HEI couldn’t track the risk of chronic disease or the mortality rate.
I mean, damn. That’s kind of a deal breaker….
Dr. Willett came up with a solution: the Alternative Healthy Eating Index.
This would focus on the quality of the food rather than its macro-nutrients.
What does this have to do with going vegan?
Well, people who practice a whole-food vegan diet score higher on the AHEI than those who don’t.
It follows a group of patients with type 2 diabetes. Some followed a low-fat vegan diet, the rest followed an ADA recommended diet.
At the end of the study, J Am Diet Association concluded that vegan diets had more carbs, fiber, and nutrients.
Their AHEI score rose, while the scores on the ADA diet didn’t change.
When you make sure that your diet has a lot of whole-foods in it, you get A LOT more of the nutrients that your body needs.
You Can Prevent Certain Types of Diseases
Now, I don’t have any problems with modern medicine at all, but sometimes the benefits aren’t worth the side effects.
Going vegan can help you prevent, stop or reverse some of the effects of serious diseases.
For example, some of the diabetes patients sometimes get a burning feeling in their feet
It’s called neuropathy, and it’s caused by high blood sugar.
Neuropathy messes up the walls of your blood vessels so that they can’t get oxygen to the nerves in your body.
The skin gets damaged, which means your cells won’t take in the sugar out of your blood.
It’s awful. 0 outta 10. You don’t want it.
On a healthy vegan diet, your insulin sensitivity goes up!
Insulin is a hormone made by your pancreas that helps your cells accept the sugar that’s in your bloodstream.
When you have better insulin sensitivity, your blood sugar level goes down. Hence the reduction of neuropathy.
You also have a lower risk of heart disease.
Vegans can enjoy up to 75% less risk of high blood pressure and 42% less risk of dying from any kind of heart disease at all.
Dr. Wareham Ellsworth, a 102-year-old retired heart surgeon, has been vegan for over 50 years. He explains:
“If your blood cholesterol is under 150, your chances of having a heart attack are pretty small. Now, my blood cholesterol is 117. There’s no chance of me having a heart attack”.
Feel free to check out his interview with CNN’s Sanjay Gupta here.
You Can Protect Yourself from Cancer
What if I told you that you could make yourself “cancer-proof”?
…okay, I won’t tell you that. I don’t have the medical expertise.
But here are some facts that conclude that a vegan diet can reduce your risk of dying from cancer by up to 15%.
All you need to do is eat 7 portions of fresh fruit and veggies.
In 2005, an article said that men with prostate cancer were able to stop the effects by working out on a vegan diet.
Also, soy products can offer some protection against breast cancer.
My, we LOVE our protein, don’t we?
When you hear the word “protein”, don’t you think of something that makes you strong and hot, like Popeye?
Unfortunately, not all proteins are good.
There’s something called a C-Reactive protein that’s made in your liver. It causes inflammation in your body.
When you have an elevated level of it, it usually means that you have an infection or a disease.
People with arthritis have high levels of this protein, and it wreaks havoc on their bodies. But a recent experiment may have a solution for this problem.
When arthritis patients chose to switch to a vegan diet, their arthritis improved. They had more energy and were able to function much better.
Patients that ate a restricted omnivorous diet did not experience these changes.
Relieve Your PMS Symptoms!
Yep. That’s right. Kicking dairy out of your diet helps with your PMS.
The symptoms become less intense or they disappear altogether.
Ladies…do I need to elaborate? This sounds pretty straightforward to me.
The calcium in animal milk makes it hard for the body to absorb iron.
Milk also contains beta-casein proteins (yay! More bad proteins!) A1 and A2.
The A1 protein makes up about 30% of the milk and is notorious for causing inflammation.
But replacing animal products with plant-based foods actually helps you absorb iron better.
This is because most plant-foods are rich in Vitamin C.
You also avoid the A1 protein altogether, so you don’t have to worry about that pesky inflammation.
Here are some plant foods you can eat that are great for that time of the month:
Dark leafy greens
Beans (also great for protein)
Grains like quinoa, brown rice, and oats
Nuts and nut butter (almond, peanut, cashew, etc.)
Lower BMI and Weight Loss
Plants have a lower caloric density than animal products.
For this reason, vegans tend to be slimmer than people who aren’t vegan.
This means that someone who eats plant foods can pretty much stuff their face until they’re full.
They’ll still be thinner than someone who eats less but still eats meat and dairy.
I know, it’s hardly fair.
This is because eating fewer animal products helps to lower your BMI.
Cutting them out completely is an easy way to maintain this.
Cut Excess Mercury from Your Diet
I used to be a pescatarian and I LOVED me some sushi.
But I swapped out my raw tuna for some avocado and asparagus when I learned this:
It’s impossible not to put some form of mercury into your system when you eat fish.
Mercury is an element that occurs in nature, but factories dump more of it into the environment.
It settles into the water from the air and becomes methylmercury, then it’s absorbed by fish.
Bigger, older fish will have higher levels while smaller, younger fish have lower levels of it.
Fish species at the top of the food chain contain the most.
To sum it up, most types of fish and shellfish have mercury no matter what.
Neurological and behavioral disorders
Increased protein in the urine
Cognitive and motor dysfunction
It’s also very dangerous for prenatal health.
Eating fruit is the best kind of detox. If you’re eating a vegan diet with a lot of fruits, you can detox yourself of most of the mercury in your system.
Your body will thank you.
Less Offensive B.O.
Trust me. You want this one.
Dairy and red meat contain a lot of toxins that our body can’t process.
The purpose of sweat glands is to release these toxins.
This is why sweat stinks.
If you ingest fewer toxins, you’ll smell better! Yay!
A good vegan diet is going to have everything you need, but the foods will be easier to digest.
So you could even have more energy than you ever did on an omnivorous diet. I have.
If you’re looking for an energy boost or a pre-workout snack, you should try some of these foods:
Spinach Oatmeal Bananas Dates Coconut butter Raisins Cacao Chia seeds
I find that smoothies are great for this kind of thing. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s tasty.
So yes, I get it: a vegan diet seems pretty daunting to most people.
There’s a ton of reasons why someone would go vegan, but there’s a misconception that it’s a lifestyle of lack.
A vegan diet can be great for you. The hardest part is doing your research.
You have to make sure you know how to replace everything you cut out. Instead of thinking “cut out”, think “crowd out”. Look for different ways to get what you need, and be creative.
You may find that a vegan diet can actually be pretty fun, too.
There’re so many recipes out there that are fun AND healthy. You can learn how to eat right and enjoy it.
But I want to know what you think: would you ever consider going vegan? Why or why not?
Drop me a line in the comments. I’ll be reading for responses!
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