by Charles Weller April 12, 2018
People go plant-based for a lot of reasons. These include losing weight, feeling more energetic, lowering the chance of cardiovascular disease, decreasing the number of pills they take ... there are dozens of good reasons!
1. You'll decrease inflammation in your body.
If you're eating meat, cheese, and highly processed foods, you likely have elevated levels of inflammation in the human body. While short-term inflammation (such as after an accident) is ordinary and necessary, inflammation which lasts for months or years isn't. Chronic inflammation has been associated with the development of atherosclerosis, heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and autoimmune diseases, among other ailments.
In contrast, plant-based diets are naturally anti-inflammatory, since they're high in fiber, antioxidants, and other phytonutrients, and much reduced in inflammatory triggers like saturated fat and endotoxins (toxins released from bacteria commonly found in animal foods). Studies have shown that those who embrace plant-based diets can dramatically reduce their level of C-reactive protein (CRP), an indicator of inflammation in the body.
2. Your blood glucose levels will plummet.
Increased blood cholesterol is an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease and strokes, two of the main killers in America. Saturated fat--primarily found in meat, poultry, cheese, and other animal products--is a significant driver of our blood glucose levels.
Studies demonstrate that when folks go plant established, their blood glucose levels fall by around 35 %. Oftentimes, the decrease is equivalent to that seen with medication treatment--with many positive side effects! Individuals who need cholesterol-lowering drugs can further slash their cholesterol levels and cardiovascular risk by adopting a diet that is vegetarian.
Whole-food, plant-based diets reduce blood glucose because they are normally somewhat low in saturated fat and they contain zero cholesterol. Additionally, plant-based diets are high in fiber, which further reduces blood glucose levels. Soy has also been shown to play a part in reducing cholesterol, for people who decide to include it.
3. You'll provide your microbiome a makeover.
The trillions of microorganisms living in our own bodies are jointly known as the microbiome. More importantly, these microorganisms are considered critical to our overall health: not only do they help us digest our food, but they create critical nutrients, train our immune systems, turn genes off and on, keep our gut tissue healthy, and help protect us from cancer.
Plant foods help form a healthy intestinal microbiome. The fiber in plant foods boosts the growth of "friendly" bacteria in our guts. On the other hand, fiber-poor diets (like those who have a lot of milk, eggs, and meat) can boost the development of disease-promoting bacteria. Landmark studies have demonstrated that when omnivores eat choline or carnitine (found in meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy), gut bacteria create a chemical that is converted by our liver to a toxic product named TMAO. TMAO contributes to worsening cholesterol plaques in our blood vessels and reduces the potential for heart attack and stroke.
Interestingly, individuals eating fermented diets create little if any TMAO following a meat-containing meal, since they have an entirely different gut microbiome. It takes just a day or two for our intestine bacterial patterns to alter -- the advantages of a plant-based diet begin quickly!
4. You will change how your genes operate.
Scientists have made the remarkable discovery that lifestyle and environmental factors can turn genes off and on. By way of instance, the antioxidants and other nutrients we consume in whole plant foods can alter gene expression to maximize how our cells repair damaged DNA. Studies have also shown that lifestyle changes, including a diet that is vegetarian, can reduce the expression of cancer cells in men with low-risk prostate cancer.
5. You'll dramatically lower your chances of getting type 2 diabetes.
An estimated 38 percent of Americans have prediabetes--a precursor to type 2 diabetes. In actuality, within this population, eating meat once weekly or more within a 17-year interval increased the risk of diabetes by 74 percent! Similarly, in the Health Professionals Follow-up Research and Nurses Health Study, raising red meat consumption by more than just half a serving per day was associated with a 48% increased risk in diabetes within 4 decades.
Several reasons: animal fat, animal-based (heme) iron, and nitrate compounds in meat have been found to harm pancreatic tissues, worsen inflammation, cause weight gain, and impair how our insulin functions.
You may dramatically reduce your chances of getting type 2 diabetes by leaving animal products from your plate and eating a diet based on whole plant foods. This is particularly true when you eat whole grains, which can be highly protective against type 2 diabetes. You read that right: carbohydrates actually protect you from diabetes! Additionally, a plant-based diet may improve or even reverse your diabetes if you have already been diagnosed.
6. You'll find the perfect amount--and the perfect kind--of protein.
The typical omnivore from the US gets more than 1.5 times the optimal quantity of protein, most of it from animal sources.
Contrary to popular perception, this extra protein doesn't make us thinner or stronger. Extra protein is stored as fat or turned into waste, and animal protein is a significant cause of weight gain, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, diabetes, and cancer.
There's absolutely not any need to monitor protein consumption or use protein supplements with plant-based diets; if you're meeting your daily calorie needs, you'll get loads of protein. The longest-lived individuals on Earth, those residing in the "Blue Zones," get about 10 percent of the calories from protein, compared with the US average of 15-20 percent.
7. You'll make a massive impact on the health of our planet and its inhabitants.
Animal agriculture is very destructive to the entire world. It's the single biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, and is a main cause of water and land use, deforestation, wildlife destruction, and species extinction. About 2,000 gallons of water are required to produce just 1 pound of beef from the U.S. The current food system, based on dairy and meat production, also contributes to world hunger--the vast majority of crops grown globally go toward feeding livestock, not feeding people.
Equally significant, animals raised for food are sentient beings who suffer, whether raised in industrial factory farms or in farms tagged "humane." Eating a plant-based diet helps us lead a more joyful life. After all, being healthy isn't just about the food we consume; it is also about our understanding--our comprehension of how our choices impact Earth and all of those with whom we share it.
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