Why Go Plant Based? Part 1: Your Health
Veganism and plant-based eating increased by a whopping 987% in 2017. WOW.
Before we dive into the nitty gritty, I’d like to give you a little bit of a backstory.
My journey with veganism began in 2007 as a 19 year old. For the next 10 years, I found myself a vegetarian, a pescatarian, and once again a meat eater. Then 13 months ago, while watching the documentary What The Health, I was reminded of all of the reasons I had originally decided to go vegan and by the end of the movie, I knew I would never be going back to eating animal products.
Even though I’ve been in the fitness and wellness industry for the last 10 years, I have faced various health issues including psoriasis, chronic inflammation, back and joint pain, gastritis, acne, and what I now believe was adrenal fatigue. About 5 years ago, I figured out that the key to preventing flare ups of my psoriasis was diet and self-care, but up until 13 months ago, even though I was eating a “clean” diet, I was still dealing with my gut, inflammation, and fatigue issues. I was also still dealing with acne and at the same time was noticing fine lines around my eyes and on my forehead. As a 29-year old woman, that was not something I was happy to be dealing with.
13 months later, I am happy to report that I feel A-MAZING. My inflammation and joint pain have significantly decreased, I have loads of energy (and it’s steady), my digestion is on point and my gut feels great, and my skin is significantly clearer with less fine lines.
Since going back to being vegan, I have had discussions with many people on the varying viewpoints of this highly debated topic. Because there are so many different ways to look at veganism, I wanted to dig deep and give you facts behind each and every argument. I want to show you science-based evidence as to why switching to a plant-based, vegan diet is equally beneficial for the helping animals, for improving your health and the health of your neighbors, and for helping the environment.
Since there is so much to cover, I have broken this blog post down into two parts. Part 1: Your Health and Part 2: Living Ethically.
Let’s break it down:
Did you know, that as a collective, we’re spending 3 times as much money on healthcare as we did 40 years ago, and that there are currently 350 million people (including over 1 million children and adolescents) worldwide with diabetes? On top of that, eating animal products has been directly linked to heart disease, obesity, autoimmune disease, inflammation, cancer, and other diseases in both adults and children.
Did you also know, that food you eat affects the way your cells interact with carcinogens, making them more or less dangerous? Animal protein and processed meats have been shown to promote the growth of cancer cells while many plant foods have been shown to slow or even reverse the growth of cancer cells. Researchers also discovered that they could actually turn the growth of cancer cells on and off by raising and lowering doses of Casein (the main protein found in goat’s milk).
The China Study, one of the largest studies ever done on human nutrition, used data collected over 65 countries in China with 6,500 adults over a span of 20 years. This study inspired documentaries such as Forks Over Knives and even the creation of a plant-based nutrition program at Cornell University. The study concluded that people who ate the most plant-based foods were the healthiest and that eating a plant based diet can protect you from and even reverse diabetes, heart disease, cancer, obesity, autoimmune diseases, bone, kidney, eye, and brain diseases.
There are so many more statistics that I could get into, but I think you get the gist. So, let’s get into the more Positive stuff.
In addition to preventing and reversing disease, benefits of a plant-based diet include:
Improved digestion - There are a couple of ways in which a plant-based diet improves your digestion. First up, fiber. Studies have shown that the average U.S. adult consumes about half of the necessary amount of daily fiber. Fiber comes from plant cells and is not digested or absorbed in the body. Instead, it feeds healthy bacteria in the colon, lowers blood sugar levels, and is essential for maintaining proper elimination by helping to keep waste moving out of the digestive tract. Avocados, strawberries, raspberries, lentils, almonds, and chia seeds are just a few of the high fiber sources you can choose from on a plant-based diet.
Another way that eating a plant-based diet is beneficial for digestion is that plant protein sources are provided along with fiber, helping to keep undigested protein moving out of the colon. Animal protein sources do not come with fiber and when go undigested in the colon can putrefy, turning sulfur-containing amino acids like methionine into hydrogen sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide is the “rotten egg” gas that may play a role in the development of the inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis and colorectal cancer. Furthermore, the animal products like casein in dairy products causes excess production of mucus which can lead to digestive issues like IBS and leaky gut.
Lastly, being on a plant-based diet also helps to remove most processed foods from the diet, which means less processed and inflammatory foods that can cause irritation in the gut.
Watch your energy levels sky rocket- Plant foods contain a powerhouse of nutrients, giving you all of the vital macro and micronutrients you need to feel energized, vibrant, and glowing. Also, all of the added fiber from eating extra plants in addition to eliminating animal products that back up your elimination will leave you feeling as light as a feather!
Find your happy weight- Foods that come from plants are less caloric and much more nutrient dense, giving you more bang for your buck. Unlike processed foods and animal products, filling up on clean, nutrient dense plant foods will leave you feeling satiated and energized. This means more energy for getting out in the world and living your best life! You will find yourself healthier, happier, more mindful, and in turn if you have excess weight it will naturally fall off. *** Note: If you want to gain weight, this is possible too with a proper meal plan!
Improved Immunity- As the China study and many studies since have shown, eating a plant-based diet can reduce inflammation, heal autoimmune disease, protect from cancer causing carcinogens, and reverse and prevent many other diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. Plants are packed full of immune-boosting antioxidants, while animal products like dairy produce excess mucus which can lead to respiratory issues like asthma and COPD.
Live with less stress and more happiness- Feeling like crap is stressful. Feeling lighter, healthier, and more energized will allow you to have less sick days at work and will lead to you living an overall more productive life. Also, deep down knowing that you are doing something good for the planet and other living beings (humans and animals) will leave you feeling happier and more fulfilled.