Is a vegan diet beneficial for you?
The 21st century brings along with it escalating rates of chronic disease – from obesity to heart disease, cancer, diabetes precipitated due to eating excessively and not exercising adequately, combined with a stressful lifestyle. Keeping this in mind, it may be a good idea for those suffering from chronic lifestyle disease to consider becoming vegan.
Although, I do believe that ‘one size does not fit all’ as far as diets are concerned, but if you do suffer from heart disease, high blood pressure, type II diabetes, PCOD, constipation, you may choose to try out a vegan diet as it has the potential to protect you from disease progression and reverse some of your discomfort both in terms of symptoms as well as blood reports.
This diet consists of plant-based foods, with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds. Since, a vegan diet is full of these healthy staples, they tend to be higher in vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and fibre, along with an abundance of vitamins like B, C, and E, magnesium, potassium, iron and antioxidants while also being low in cholesterol and saturated fats.
A plant-based vegan diet reduces the risk of metabolic disorders like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, stroke, obesity, some cancers including prostate and colon cancer, because it is alkaline in nature and has an anti-inflammatory effect.
Cancer (Prostate, Colon & Breast cancer) – According to a study, men who switched to a vegan diet, had subdued progression of prostate cancer. Similarly, it was observed that countries where women consume very little animal products have a much lower rate of breast cancer development as opposed to others. Vegan diet can also greatly reduce your chances of colon cancer due to abundance of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables.
Cataracts & Macular degeneration – Vegan diet can prevent the formation of cataract and ward off the onset of macular degeneration, due to its richness in fresh fruits and vegetables, carrots, pumpkin, etc., that are high in antioxidants.
Arthritis & Osteoporosis – If you suffer from pain related to arthritis and osteoporosis, avoiding wheat, rye, barley (gluten) in grains and consuming millets like jowar, bajra, naachini, brown rice along with pulses and vegetables has shown promising improvement in pain management in rheumatoid arthritis as well as preventing osteoporosis.
In addition, going vegan makes you lose weight and increases your energy levels. According to many population based studies a vegan diet leads to a lower BMI (body mass index), that means healthy weight and lack of excess fat on the body. Vitamins like A and E from nuts and vegetables help improve skin. Studies also indicate that the health span of a vegan individual is increased by an average of three to six years. When switching to a vegan diet, many women report less intense PMS symptoms.
Being vegan also has a positive impact on the environment as a vegan lifestyle reduces the toll on the environment since growing plants takes fewer resources when compared to rearing animals meant for food. But do remember that if you are a vegan, eating dal and rice and grains, nuts and seeds but not adequate fruits and vegetables, you may not be able to reap the benefits of a vegan diet.
The bottom line is, that whether you choose to become a vegan or follow a high fat ketogenic diet of good fats and meats or decide to go high protein (Dr. Atkins diet) with lots of chicken, fish, eggs and meat – whatever you choose, will work for sometime and make you lose some kilos but what is most important, is that it should have a positive impact on your overall health and wellbeing. For that you need to eat lots and lots of vegetables. Nothing keeps us young, vibrant and disease free as eating lots of vegetables. So, remember to eat lots of vegetables no matter what type of diet you choose to follow. Once you begin eating vegetables, you will also be able to keep your body alkaline, detoxified and healthy. Good nutrition has a powerful effect on a person’s health and should be used as the first line of treatment against any disease.
ANJALI MUKERJEE, Nutritionist, Founder Director-Health Total, having health centers
in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Pune -manages obesity & other health related disorders.
Contact numbers: 1800 8918131/+91 86575 61727
For further information, Visit www.health-total.com