Health benefits of a plant-based/vegan diet

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 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.

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