Many people are under the misconception that a plant-based diet can not provide one with all the essential nutrients that the body needs. This could not be further from the truth. (See note below on Vit B12.) A balanced plant-based/vegan diet not only provides the body with all the essential nutrients, but it has many added (and often unexpected) health benefits:
- Weight management is no longer an issue. Without any calorie counting, a balanced vegan diet will ensure that your weight naturally stays within the healthy range. I have to emphasize that this only applies to those following a balanced vegan diet. i.e. a low fat plant-based diet. Living on fries and vegan chocolate will not have the same results!
- Increased energy
- Improved immune system
- Reduction in risk of developing cancer
- Improvement in dysmenorrhea (period pain)
- Better diabetes control
- Improvement in cholesterol profile and reduction in cardiovascular risk
- Reduction of arthritic pain
- Excellent bowel function – no constipation. A balanced vegan diet is naturally high in fibre and water which promotes a healthy happy colon.
Dr Neal Barnard is an American physician who has spearheaded plenty of research on the health effects of balanced plant-based diets. I find his work fascinating and enjoy following his blog. In this video he explains about one of his recent research studies. I also highly recommend reading his book “21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart: Boost Metabolism, Lower Cholesterol, and Dramatically Improve Your Health”. In this book, he explains what constitutes the perfect diet and all of the advice given is evidence-based. I follow the diet he recommends in his book about 90% of the time. The other 10% of the time, I eat desserts…A girls got to live a little!
Note: The only vitamin that all vegans NEED to supplement, is Vit B12 as plant-based diets often do not provide enough of this vitamin. With a balanced diet, all other nutrients should be taken care of. I do suggest that all vegans have an annual medical check up with their doctor (as we all should anyway), but that they request that their haemoglobin, vitamin B12, vitamin D and iron levels be checked. A balanced vegan diet along with a healthy degree of sun exposure should cover your iron and Vit D requirements, but as with meat-eating individuals, sometimes there can still be an individual imbalance between supply and demand and additional supplementation may be recommended by your doctor in that case.