Chronic diseases, like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes account for 75% of U.S. health care costs and 7 out of 10 American deaths. But what happens to our bodies when we switch from foods that hurt to foods that heal? Well…a lot. It’s World Vegan Day and this year, while there are many reasons folks transition to a plant-based lifestyle, we’d like to highlight some of the top health benefits of a plant-based diet.
One out of every three adult Americans has hypertension…but only half of those living with it have their blood pressure under control. Even more, 20% off folks with hypertension don’t even know they have it! So what’s the big deal? Well, having high blood pressure puts you at risk for heart disease and stroke, the leading causes of death in the United States. The good news: high blood pressure is not inevitable. You actually do have some control. Study after study shows transitioning to a plant-based diet, which is low in sodium and saturated fats, helps prevent and even reverse hypertension.
As it stands, one out of every three people will die of heart disease in this country. Chances are someone you know is living with heart disease, but they don’t necessarily have to be. This study from Dr. Ornish found after just weeks of following a low-fat plant-based diet, chest pain began to disappear and arteries re-opened for 82% of heart disease patients. Another Cleveland Clinic study looked at folks with severe coronary artery disease and saw patients who switched to a plant-based diet lowered their cholesterol and did not experience any additional cardiac events.
29.1 million people in the have diabetes in the United States - and it’s projected to be 1 in 3 by 2050. But once again, studies show folks may not have to live with this chronic disease. A Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health study surveyed 200,000 health professionals more than 20 years and found that those following a healthy plant-based diet had a 34% lower risk of diabetes. But what about if you already have diabetes? Does changing your diet even matter? Yes, yes it does! The proof is in the plant-based pudding. Eating whole, plant-based foods can help control and reverse diabetes.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States. And while everyone from meat eaters to vegans can get hit with it, studies show the occurrence of all forms of cancer are lower in folks who followed a plant-based diet compared to those who eat the Standard American Diet. And we’re not just talking about slight variations; a diet high in animal-based protein has been associated with 4 times the increased risk of cancer. For those already battling cancer, a low fat plant-based diet has been shown to positively affect the outcomes for people living with breast, prostate, colon, and skin cancer (Melanoma). In the end, lots of research points to plants and the American Cancer Society agrees — they recommend a diet based on plant foods for decreased cancer risk.
Think memory loss is inevitable? Science shows it may be time to think again. Over 5 years, researchers followed nearly 8,000 adults 55 and older from 40 different countries to see if diet, specifically a plant-based diet, had any effect on cognitive health. Those who ate fruits and vegetables over red meat and deep-fried foods were found to be 24% less likely to have cognitive decline, including memory loss and reasoning ability.
Chances are you’ve noticed a lot of professional athletes are going plant-based — from Tom Brady to Venus and Serena Williams to Kyrie Irving to Torre Washington. So what gives? Eating lots of fruits, veggies, and whole grains can lead to less inflammation, more energy, and better sleep — all of which can lead to faster recovery and boosted stamina. So eat your fruits and veggies then go out and play!
More than two thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. The problem with this is that carrying around extra weight can often lead to health problems like heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, join problems, and depression, even certain types of cancer. Dieting in general doesn’t work because it’s almost always temporary and they’re not always healthy. What works is a lifestyle change. A low-fat plant-based diet and lifestyle has been shown to help folks lose weight more than calorie counting or portion monitoring. How? A plant-based diet’s combination of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, proteins, and fats not only boosts your energy but keeps you feeling full and less likely to overeat. Plus, you’re not eating the junky foods that are linked to weight gain, like processed snacks and meats, dairy, and refined sugars.
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