A plant-based diet focuses on getting all the nourishment and nutrition primarily from plants. Consumption of fruits and vegetables along with whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and beans constitutes a plant-based diet.
Plant-based diets do offer all the essential nutrients like proteins, carbohydrates, fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Plant-Based Diets And Its Proven Health Benefits– Here’s What It’s Really Like!
A vegetarian diet also includes the consumption of dairy and dairy products. Plants-based diets are usually high in fiber and phytonutrients compared to other diets.
Benefits of a plant-based diet
A plant-based diet helps in reducing blood pressure. A study concluded that vegetarians had lower blood pressure on an average compared to non-vegetarians and also had a 34% lower risk of developing hypertension.
A plant-based diet boosts heart health as there are fewer saturated fats with plants. Meat on the other hand contains high amounts of saturated fats and when eaten excessively contributes to heart disease. Eating plants reduces your risk of cardiovascular diseases by 16%, so it is very necessary to consume plant foods that are healthy in nature like whole grains, legumes, healthy oils, and skip processed and refined sugar.
It’s a known fact that a plant-based diet keeps you thinner and helps you lose weight. Switching to a plant-based diet also keeps your body lighter. Plant eaters have a tendency to weigh less. The BMI of most non-vegetarians stands at 28.8 which qualifies as overweight whereas the BMI of vegans stands at 23.6.
One of the reasons for the weight loss is plants and whole foods are relatively low on the glycemic index, and due to the high fiber content in fruits and vegetables, they are digested more slowly by the body and prolong satiation. People who followed a plant-based diet for 1 year lost about 4.3 kgs on average.
Weight is a major contributor to type 2 diabetes and losing weight has scaled down the prevalence of diabetes and reversed the condition in some cases. An increase in weight makes the fatty cells in the body more resistant to insulin. Eating plant-based diets have shown that they reduce the risk of diabetes by 34% as they decrease the weight of a person and contain less saturated fats.
Research has found that following a plant-based diet for a long time prevents the risk of cancer because fruits and vegetables contain cancer-protective nutrients and phytochemicals. Eating plant-based foods also promote weight loss which goes a long way in preventing cancer. Cancer survivors also have noticed the benefits after switching to a plant-based diet.
Plant-based diets help in lowering cholesterol. Cholesterol is the fatty deposit in the blood that coagulates and blocks arteries of the heart increasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases and heart attacks. Plant-based diets decrease the cholesterol in the blood and a study has shown that they decrease the bad cholesterol (LDL) by 10-15% and people who follow a strict vegan diet were able to reduce their LDL by 25%.
Most stroke risks are preventable and this is possible through a plant-based diet. The factors that contribute to a stroke are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, weight gain, and type 2 diabetes. All these factors are preventable by following a plant-based diet which in turn prevents the risk of stroke. Increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables decrease the risk of stroke and the highest consumers had a 21% lower chance of developing a stroke according to a study.
Other than the obvious physical benefits plant-based diets also have an impact on mental health. As fruits and vegetables are rich in polyphenols there is evidence that they slow the progress of Alzheimer’s, reduce the risk of cognitive impairment, as well as dementia. Eating 100 grams of fruits and vegetables daily reduces the risk of dementia and cognitive impairment by 13%.
As they are many benefits to eating a plant-based diet like reduction in weight, reduction in the risk of stroke, hypertension, diabetes, cancer, dementia, etc. all these lead to an individual living longer. Plants reduce the inflammation in the body and their anti-oxidative properties reduce the free radicals in the human body leading to a better quality of life and increased longevity. A study found that plant-based diets reduce the risk of mortality by 25%.
A plant-based diet improves kidney function as it increases sensitivity to insulin. Substituting meat protein with plant protein improved kidney function and reduced the risk of poor function in the kidneys of the participants in a study. It also relieved the symptoms of systemic distal polyneuropathy where people with diabetes experience sharp burning pain.
Plant-based diets help people manage the symptoms of arthritis better. These diets reduce the inflammation in the body and increase energy levels and better general functioning. It reduces the pain of rheumatoid arthritis, joint swelling, and morning stiffness.
So, from the discussion above we can conclude that there are many benefits to a plant-based diet on health and longevity. There is no doubt it improves the quality of life and also protects against mental diseases. Plants are naturally rich in fiber that flushes out the toxins from the body and regularizes bowel movements. People who follow plant-based diets rich in fiber rarely develop constipation. They also have less inflammation and irritability in their body and skin is clearer and well-nourished.
Not only is a plant-based diet good for health but it is good for the environment as well. Agriculture hardly produces any greenhouses gases, whereas the animal husbandry industry is the largest producer of methane a deadly greenhouse gas that increases global warming.
People are realizing that there is no disadvantage to switching to a plant-based diet and is actually beneficial not only to their health but also to the environment. Hence plant-based diets are becoming more mainstream and many healthy options are appearing on menus of various restaurants trying to replace their dependence on meat.
Lacey Arlo is a wellness expert and a nutritionist who aims to help members with health and diet queries. Lacey Arlo has worked with junior, national, and Olympic-level athletes by providing them with customizing programmers, supplement strategies, and support during their travel and competition. From weight management, PCOD, thyroid-related weight loss, and nutrition for children to diets for pregnant and diets for senior citizens, She offers nutrition-aided solutions for different age groups with consideration for each person’s unique health demands.