There are many reasons to adopt a vegan diet: Animal ethics, environmental protection and optimizing the world’s food are just some of them. Focusing on health, this form of nutrition has many advantages, provided that adequate nutrient intake is ensured.
A complete diet without products of animal origin has great potential compared to current living conditions. It could serve as a lifestyle to prevent the diseases of civilization.
Benefits of the vegan lifestyle
Vegans, on the other hand, are slimmer and much less likely to be overweight than the general population. The low energy density of the predominantly vegetarian diet contributes significantly to this. At the same time, the diet contains much more fiber, but less fat and protein. Thus, the following are the main benefits of the vegan lifestyle.
Lowers the risk of diabetes
Being overweight and a high calorie diet favor the development of type 2 diabetes. This is the reason why vegans suffer less frequently from this metabolic disease. A recent study found that vegans have a much lower risk of diabetes than meat eaters.
The main reason for this low risk is the lower average body weight and the higher intake of dietary fiber. Both have a favorable effect on glucose and insulin metabolism, preventing the development of insulin resistance. Regardless of body weight, the vegan diet helps prevent diabetes, while the consumption of meat increases the risk.
Vegans also have low blood pressure and a very low risk of hypertension. In one study, more than 11,000 participants were evaluated, with vegans being the group with the lowest prevalence of hypertension. A body weight in the normal range is the most important influencing factor for the prevention of hypertension. In the case of food products, the abundant consumption of vegetables and fruits and the consequent higher intake of potassium and magnesium contribute to the positive regulation of blood pressure.
Advantages for the heart
Vegans have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease due to their diet and lifestyle. Analysis of four studies with more than 66,000 participants showed minimal mortality from ischemic heart disease in vegans. This is mainly due to the more favorable values of fat in the blood.
Since vegans do not consume animal fat, their intake of saturated fatty acids is minimal and zero cholesterol. Also, vegans absorb more unsaturated fatty acids and fiber than non-vegetarians. The supply of antioxidants, such as vitamin C and E, beta-carotene and polyphenols, is also higher in the vegan diet.
Decreased risk of developing cancer
Last but not least, vegans have a lower risk of developing cancer compared to the general population. In a study on this, vegans showed a much lower overall cancer risk than omnivores. In female-specific tumors, the risk was 34% lower. Likewise, the cancer mortality of vegans compared to meat eaters is notably lower.
Conflicting results are found for individual types of cancer. For example, there was hardly any difference in colorectal cancer risk between vegans and non-vegans in these studies. More research is needed to be able to reach more conclusive results. In addition to lower body weight, increased consumption of vegan foods is crucial for optimal health.
Vegetables and fruits, in particular, which provide antioxidant ingredients like vitamin C and E, carotenoids and other secondary crops, as well as foods high in fiber, have anticancer effects. Avoiding red meat, particularly processed meat, can also help reduce your risk of different types of cancer. These restrictions on meat consumption are especially beneficial in reducing the risk of colorectal cancer.
A purely plant-based diet has positive effects on health. This is so because it contains more health promoting substances and less harmful ingredients. But, it is always advisable to consult with a specialist in nutrition for vegans to eat a balanced diet.
A vegan diet is especially suitable for pregnant women, babies and children only when food is carefully prepared and supplemented with fortified foods or supplements. The essential nutrients should not be lacking in it are vitamin B12, B2, calcium, iron, zinc and iodine.