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Whether vegan for the animals, the environment, or your health, reducing meat and dairy consumption has a myriad of health benefits. Studies show that a plant-based diet can be the healthiest approach to eating, with wide-ranging effects that extend to almost every aspect of our health. Here’s five ways plant-based eating positively impacts our bodies:
#1 Reduced risk of cancer
Data suggests that the best diet for cancer prevention is a plant-based one. Decades of research indicates that a diet of whole plant foods could prevent up to a third of all cancer cases. Not only do plants contain antioxidants and produce phytochemicals that protect cells from damage, studies show that meat contains carcinogenic compounds that promote cancer development. Plant-based foods are linked to a reduction in mortality and many cancers common in Western societies.
#2 Reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke
Studies show that people who regularly consume meat have a higher risk of developing chronic illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes. Researchers of a 2021 study found that every 70 grams of unprocessed red meat and processed meat that a person consumed daily increased their risk of heart disease by 15% and diabetes by 30%. Other studies indicate that a plant-based diet in young adulthood lowers the risk of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases in middle age.
#3 Improved gut health
Trillions of bacteria live in our digestive tracts and play a crucial role in our overall health. A well-balanced plant-based diet improves health and prevents disease by feeding the “good” bacteria in our digestive tracts. According to a study published in the journal Gut, people who follow vegan diets have the healthiest gut flora which helps to fight against conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and inflammation associated with autoimmune diseases.
#4 Strengthened immune system
The vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals in plants work in synergy to help strengthen our immune systems and protect against germs and microorganisms. A healthy immune system not only helps fight off infection, but reduces the risk for cancer because it can recognize and attack cellular abnormalities before they progress to disease. The same phytochemicals and antioxidants that boost our immune systems also play an active role in neutralizing toxins from pollution, UV rays, additives, and preservatives from processed foods, bacteria, viruses, and more.
#5 Reduced inflammation
Chronic inflammation can cause damage to the body in a multitude of ways, and has been linked to cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disease, infection, dementia, and cancer, among other conditions. A 2013 systematic review of 46 individual studies found that cellular markers of inflammation were constantly elevated in meat-based Western diets and significantly reduced in diets rich in plant-based foods. Not only are plant-based diets low in inflammatory triggers, unlike their meat counterparts, but phytonutrients found in plants have anti-inflammatory properties.
Not only is a vegan diet highly beneficial for your health, but it is better for the environment and creates a kinder world for animals. Adopting a vegan diet is a win-win situation all round.
Looking for recipes, tips and resources to help you on your plant-based journey? Check out TryVeg and our Facebook support group for VegWeek.