A significant convergence of evidence suggests that plant-based diets may help prevent and even reverse some of the top killer diseases in the Western world and can be more effective than medication and surgery. Many of the scourges of modern living might be prevented, including Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and Parkinson’s disease, age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, Crohn’s disease, gallstones, kidney stones, diverticulosis, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis and vaginal infections.
Additionally, plant-based eating may have a positive effect on abdominal fat, acne, aging, allergies, asthma, body odor, cellulite, childhood IQ, cognition, dysmenorrhea, eczema, gut flora, fibromyalgia, kidney stones, metabolic syndrome, menstrual breast pain, mood, multiple sclerosis, oral health, rheumatoid arthritis, waist circumference and weight control.
Pollutants in Meat
Eating meat and other animal products may be associated with a shortened lifespans. Meat contains a high amount of saturated fat, trans fats, sulfur dioxide arachidonic acid and heme iron. Meat, fish, dairy and eggs may also increase our exposure to dietary antibiotics, industrial toxins, mercury and other toxic heavy metals, advanced glycation end-products (AGE)s, cadmium, xenoestrogens in fish and estrogenic meat carcinogens.
Vegans’ Nutritional Needs
Contrary to popular myth, vegans have healthy bones and higher blood protein levels than omnivores. Most vegans get more than enough protein. In one study, within a matter of weeks, participants placed on a plant-based diet experienced improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol and insulin levels, insulin resistance and C-reactive protein levels.
Vegans may have fewer nutrient deficiencies than average omnivores while maintaining a lower body weight without losing muscle mass. Those eating plant-based diets appear to experience enhanced athletic recovery without affecting the benefits of exercise. The arteries of vegans appear healthier than even long-distance endurance athletes and those on low-carb diets. In fact, the Paleo Diet may increase the risk of toxin contamination, DNA damage and cancer.
There are two vitamins people need that are not available in plants: vitamins D and B12. There is a serious risk of B12 deficiency if no supplements or B12-fortified foods are consumed. Two other nutrients to monitor are iodine and zinc. Yeast- or algae-based long chain omega 3 fatty acids may also be beneficial.
Better Nutrition Education Needed
Medical training continues to underemphasize nutrition education, and patients often do not receive information about all of their treatment options. Doctors report they don’t practice preventative cardiology because they believe their patients aren’t capable of changing their diets. Kaiser Permanente has begun more aggressive efforts to apprise patients about the advantages of plant-based diets.
Other Benefits of a Plant-based Diet
If significantly more people transitioned to plant-based diets, Medicare costs could drop by the billions of dollars. Plant-based diets may also help lessen greenhouse gas emissions and have a smaller impact on the environment.
Image Credit: Pixabay. This image has been modified.
Topic summary contributed by Linda
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