So what are these benefits exactly?
Keep reading to get the inside scoop on the benefits of a plant-based diet.
Plant-based diets with high consumption of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains are strongly associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease (Patel, Chandra, Alexander, Soble, & Williams, 2017). Plant-based diets have proven effective in Type 2 Diabetes management while also decreasing insulin resistance, promoting healthy body weights, increasing fiber and phytonutrient intake, and influencing interactions within the microbiome (McMacken & Shah, 2017). In comparison with lacto-ovo-vegetarian diets, or vegetarian diets that include dairy and eggs, plant-based diets offer additional protection against hypertension (Le & Sabate, 2014).
Aside from the physiological benefits, plant-based diets have also shown to be effective in achieving balanced and clear skin. The etiology of acne has been linked to sex hormones and inflammation, and the struggle to find a cure can be tricky. Recent research has shown that a “low-glycemic load diet, one rich in plant fibers, and low in processed foods, has been linked to an improvement in acne, possibly through gut changes or attenuation of insulin levels” (Clark, Haas, & Sivamani, 2017).
Alongside these benefits for the skin, a plant-based diet has shown some impact on mood and behavior as well. A study conducted over the span of 12 weeks explored how a plant-based diet, exercise, and mindfulness techniques affected men and women who were diagnosed with chronic moderate to severe depression. Results showed that an intervention in diet accompanied with exercise and other lifestyle modifications provided substantial benefits, even showing improvements in depression and anxiety (Null & Pennesi, 2017).
- Start slow: Choosing a single meal or even a single day of the week to practice a plant-based diet can help develop a new routine. Slowly increase the number of days you choose to eat plant-based, and soon enough it will be a continuous change!
- Do your research: Before starting a new diet, be sure to understand what nutrients, vitamins and minerals are important to include in your daily meals to ensure adequate intake. Just because something is plant-based, it doesn’t always mean it is healthy. Choose healthful food options and enjoy plant-based sweets and desserts in moderation.
- Lastly, get creative: Looking up recipe ideas and trying new things will help keep your diet change exciting and delicious. There are plant substitutes for almost everything! Don’t be afraid to try new foods and be on the lookout for ways to spice up your meals. Here’s a favorite blog of mine that always delivers the most delicious and nutritious meals (with even some dessert recipes to enjoy in moderation): https://minimalistbaker.com/
Clark, A. K., Haas, K. N., Sivamani, R. K. (2017). Edible plants and their influence on the gut microbiome and acne. International Journal of Molecular Science, 18(5). doi:10.3390/ijms18051070.
Le, L. T. & Sabate, J. (2014). Beyond meatless, the health effects of vegan diets: Findings from the Adventist cohorts. Nutrients, 6(6):2131-2147. doi:10.3390/nu6062131
McMacken, M. & Shah, S. (2017). A plant-based diet for the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes. Journal of Geriatric Cardiology, 14(5):342-354. doi: 10.11909/j.issn.16715411.2017.05.009.
Null, G. & Pennesi, L. (2017). Diet and lifestyle intervention on chronic moderate to severe depression and anxiety and other chronic conditions. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 29: 189-193. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2017.09.007
Patel, H., Chandra, S., Alexander, S., Soble, J., Williams, K. A. (2017). Plant based nutrition: An essential component of cardiovascular disease prevention and management. Current Cardiology Reports, 19(10):104. doi:10.1007/s11886-017-0909-z.