Green and healthy: 5 Reasons to start following a plant-based diet
03/03/2022 / By Rose Lidell / Comments
Green and healthy: 5 Reasons to start following a plant-based diet

Following a balanced diet is crucial to your overall well-being. And by following a plant-based diet, you can boost your mental health and even save on hospital costs.

Many studies have confirmed that eating lots of fruits, veggies, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains can help significantly lower your risk of developing obesity, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.

A low-fat, plant-based diet is the only diet to successfully reverse established coronary artery disease. The same diet also helps reverse Type 2 diabetes and enables effective and sustained weight loss without portion control or exercise. In addition, a low-fat, plant-based diet has been found to arrest the progression of early-stage prostate cancer.

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Still unsure about cutting your meat intake? Here are five more benefits of following a plant-based diet.

It can boost your mental health and well-being

What you eat has a major impact on your mood and mental health. The connection may seem unclear, but your diet affects the health of your gut bacteria, which produce many of the hormones active in your brain.

Gut bacteria thrive on fiber, which is only found in whole plant foods. This is why following a plant-based diet is good for your mental health.

In a U.S. study conducted at a large insurance company, volunteers who were overweight or had a history of Type 2 diabetes were either prescribed a low-fat vegan diet or asked to continue their usual diet for 18 weeks.

Results showed that there was a significant improvement in mental health, well-being and work productivity among the participants who went on a vegan diet, along with lower levels of depression and anxiety.

It can relieve period pain in women

Data suggests that a plant-based diet can help with period pain in women.

In one study, researchers observed women who switched to a low-fat vegan diet for two menstrual cycles. For the next two, they resumed their usual omnivorous diet.

The researchers recorded pain duration and intensity and premenstrual symptoms, along with the levels of a hormone that affects estrogen levels.

While on the low-fat vegan diet, the female volunteers reported less pain duration and intensity and shorter duration of premenstrual symptoms. Test results also showed lower estrogen levels.

It might seem strange, but your diet can impact your hormone levels. The study proved this, and according to the researchers, lower estrogen levels can benefit women’s health in several ways.

It can help lower your risk of urinary tract infections

Urinary tract infections (UTIs), often caused by the bacteria Escherichia coli (E. coli), are one of the most common causes of infection in the general population.

You can develop a UTI when E. coli from the intestine finds its way into your urinary tract. However, UTIs can also be caused by E. coli strains found in farm animals like chickens and pigs. This means eating contaminated sources of meat can also cause infections.

Due to the link between E. coli and UTIs, following a plant-based diet and avoiding meat can help lower your risk of infection.

According to a review of several studies, vegetarians have a 16 percent lower risk of UTIs compared to non-vegetarians. This confirms previous data suggesting that meat-borne bacteria increase the risk of UTIs.

It can help reduce arthritic pain

Osteoarthritis, or the painful breakdown of cartilage in the joints, is often linked to aging. While it is not reversible, it can be managed with pain medication and, in some cases, surgery.

According to a small study, following a plant-based diet significantly improves self-reported pain and functioning in people with osteoarthritis. Experts believe that this is due to the anti-inflammatory properties of the micro-nutrients found in plant-based foods. Inflammation, after all, is the main cause of arthritis pain.

Meanwhile, meat-based diets have the opposite effect and generally increase the level of inflammation in your body.

It can help you save on hospital costs

Having a healthy lifestyle and following a plant-based diet is key to lowering your risk of getting sick. This, in turn, helps you save on hospital costs.

According to a large Taiwanese study, vegetarians have a lower rate of outpatient visits, which translates into a 13 percent lower outpatient expenditure and a 15 percent lower total medical expenditure.

In 2017, spending on healthcare in the U.K. amounted to a whopping £197 billion (approximately $2 billion), or an estimated £2,989 per person. If everyone in the U.K. followed a vegetarian diet, this could reduce healthcare expenditure by as much as £30 billion.

How to add more fruits and veggies to your diet

If you have a hard time getting more fruits and vegetables into your diet, it’s time to improve your eating habits. Limit your intake of meat and try the suggestions below to increase your fruit and veggie intake.

  • Add fruits and vegetables to your favorite dishes. If you like cereal or yogurt, add berries. When making a sandwich, add lots of leafy greens, tomatoes or cucumbers.
  • Start your day with a fruit or green smoothie. If you don’t like kale, adding fruits will help mask the taste of the leafy greens in your breakfast smoothie.
  • Cook vegetarian dishes whenever you can. If you can’t give up meat, try making a vegetarian dish at least once a week.
  • Get rid of the junk food in your fridge and pantry and stock up on healthier snacks like fresh fruits and nuts.
  • Make a list of your favorite veggie recipes so you can easily whip up a healthy meal instead of eating fast food.
  • When buying groceries, look for a tasty new fruit or vegetable to try.
  • Buy fruits and vegetables that are in season in bulk so you can eat healthy the rest of the year.
  • If you’re craving something sweet, snack on fresh or dried fruit. Check labels to make sure your fruity snack has no added sugar. For something savory, try baked chips with salsa or carrot strips with a low-fat dip.

Improve your physical and mental health by eating less meat and following a plant-based diet.

Sources:

EcoWatch.com

EverydayHealth.com

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