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The healthy benefits of a vegan diet

Guest Columnist

Published: Thursday, February 10, 2011

Updated: Thursday, February 10, 2011 23:02


 

In previous posts, I have explained the reasons you should kick dairy and meat out of your diet for good. I touched on why consuming these products are horrendous for human health. I also briefly mentioned how these products can harm your health.

I feel that just "briefly mentioning" information like that is not an efficient way to get information out and I apologize for that. I dedicate today to telling you practically everything you need to know about the health benefits of a vegan diet.

People misunderstand vegans. Not all vegans are animal-rights activists. Not all vegans are hippies. Vegans don't starve themselves, either. There are vegans that are normal people, like me, who have an ambition to be healthy.

A vegan diet is healthy, balanced and prevents major diseases that happen to be abundant in America. One of the No.1 worst kinds of fat is saturated fat, which derives mainly from animal products. Reducing this kind of fat from your diet will significantly improve your cardiovascular health. A vegan diet limits these fats tremendously with the exception of some oils such as coconut oil.

Another pro to being a vegan is increasing the amount of fiber that you consume. Not only does a diet rich in fiber lead to healthier bowel movements, it also puts up a mean fight against colon cancer. Laugh if you want, but pooping is an extremely important factor in maintaining health.

If weight loss is your goal, it helps with that too. In fact, Skinny Bitch authors Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin dedicate an entire chapter to pooping. They admitted in an interview with www.thedietchannel.com that, "You've got to be a good pooper if you want to be skinny."

Do not confuse this for taking laxatives. I repeat: no laxatives. They are bad. Try life's natural laxatives such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. What do they all have in common you ask? If you haven't guessed it by now, they are all high in fiber! Don't forget to wash down these tasty poop-promoters with lots of water.

Another important aid to our diets is magnesium. Magnesium helps absorb calcium. Find these elements in nuts, dark leafy greens and seeds.

Don't forget about taking your vitamins! Forget the kind that you purchase in the bottle from the local pharmacy. Try the real stuff. For example, Vitamin E benefits your brain, skin, eyes and heart. Studies also show that the vitamin may help prevent Alzheimer's disease. Find this super-vitamin in dark leafy greens, nuts and grains.

I know I mentioned this before, but it is something I feel is worth attempting to hammer into your heads again. As for protein, most Americans eat too much. No surprise there, I've mentioned why this is and hopefully it made an impression. Meat sources are not healthy ways of getting protein. Lentils, soy products, raw nuts and beans are. Get the right and healthy amount of protein for your body from a vegan diet.

While you begin to substitute meat and dairy products for nuts and whole grains, you are eliminating cardiovascular problems in the future. According to a British study, vegan diets reduce the risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes and helps prevent heart attacks and strokes. If you want these diseases, be my guest to go order a Happy Meal. I don't mean that -- please don't buy a Happy Meal.

One of my favorite parts of a vegan diet is that most products are cholesterol free. This means a lot to me because high cholesterol runs in my family. Do not mistake this for obesity. If you looked at my family, you would think we were a really healthy bunch.

Back in the day, I was the runt of my friends -- always the tiniest, always the shortest. However, my cholesterol levels hit the roof at around 227 when I was in sixth grade. That's basically off the charts awful for a 12-year-old girl. I was the girl dabbing my slice of pizza with a paper towel at birthday parties to get the grease off. Not cute.

There are good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterols. My main focus is to help break you away from the bad stuff. According to the American Heart Association, when too much bad cholesterol circulated in the blood, it can slowly build up in the inner walls of the arteries that feed the heart and brain. It also forms a thick, hard deposit called plaque that can narrow your arteries and make them less flexible. Try to envision the inside of your body right now. If you think that there is a chance it might look like this, or may look like this in the future, please consider what I am telling you. These arteries can eventually clot up and as a result promote heart attack and stroke.

Even the boobies reap benefits. In countries where women consume very little animal products, such as Japan, there is a lower rate of breast cancer. This is because a traditional Japanese diet is much lower in animal fats. According to www.cancerproject.org, when Japanese girls are raised on westernized diets, their rate of breast cancer increases dramatically.

Another major study directed by Dean Ornish, MD, clinical professor, Peter Carroll, MD, chair of the department of urology and the late William Fair, MD, chief of urologic surgery and chair of urologic oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, shows that switching to a vegan diet stops the progress of prostate cancer. Men in the early stages of prostate cancer who make intensive changes in diet and lifestyle may stop or perhaps even reverse the progression of their illness.

I could honestly write a 100-foot-long scrollfront and back about all of the diseases you can prevent yourself from. To save you the time, I'll quickly go over a few more.

Vegan diets aid in helping to prevent cataracts and macular degeneration through the intake of fruits and vegetables. Ignoring dairy is parallel to alleviating arthritis symptoms. You can also prevent osteoporosis.

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