In recent years, you might have noticed vegan diets gaining in popularity. With all of the buzz surrounding vegan diets, you might be wondering what exactly it means and what the health benefits are.
A balanced vegan diet has not only been linked to lowering your risk for cardiovascular disease but it has also been shown to help reduce inflammation. While not all inflammation in your body is harmful, too much can cause arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and even asthma.
From what a vegan diet looks like to the health risks of too much inflammation, this guide has everything you need to know about a vegan diet and whether or not it can actually help reduce inflammation.
What Causes Inflammation?
If you have ever hit your knee on the coffee table and noticed your knee suddenly starts to swell, this is inflammation hard at work. Inflammation is actually the body’s natural response to an injury.
Inflammation happens when the blood vessels around your injured area start to expand and more blood flows to the area. Blood, oxygen, antioxidants, and nutrients are sent to ward off any bacteria and repair damage.
In this sense, inflammation is a good thing. Too much inflammation in the body, however, can cause joint discomfort, abdominal issues, and even asthma.
If you have ever eaten certain foods and noticed you start to feel allergy-like symptoms, sore joints, a headache, or stomach cramps, this may all be caused by inflammation.
Vegan or Vegetarian?
A vegan is someone who doesn’t consume any animal products. This includes eggs, honey, dairy, and gelatin. Vegans will also not use any products such as clothes or soaps that have come from animals as well.
While both vegetarians and vegans don’t eat meat, vegetarians will consume eggs, dairy, and cheese.
A vegan diet only contains plant-based foods. A vegan diet meal plan is one that features only products and foods that are made from plants.
If someone is on a gluten-free vegan diet, they are not eating any animal products and they are also omitting gluten. Gluten is commonly found in bread.
A low carb vegan diet is also animal-based but they may eat some carbs that are made without eggs.
Why a Vegan Diet?
With all of the things a vegan doesn’t eat, you might be wondering, if a vegan diet is healthy. A vegan diet has been shown to have many health and environmental benefits. A vegan diet may be able to protect your heart, your bones, and also lower your risk of cancer, according to Medical News Today.
Eating animals has been linked to several health problems From diabetes to arthritis, heart disease, and hypertension, eating too much animal fats can be harmful.
Animal fats also greatly increase your levels of LDL also known as low-density lipoprotein which is cholesterol.
Using plant-based fats and oils like olive oil will give a vegan the fatty acids they need and also anti-inflammatory properties without the cholesterol.
Certain plant-based products, as well as several fruits and vegetables, have been shown to reduce the risk of inflammation.
Vegetables have powerful anti-oxidants which are known to have anti-inflammatory properties. This is why a lot of long-time inflammatory disease suffers will give being a vegetarian or vegan a try to see if they have any relief in their symptoms.
What Does Science Say About Vegan Diets and Inflammation?
There have been several studies done on the link between being vegan and the amount of inflammation in the body.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, a study published in Public Health and Nutrition showed that people who followed a vegan diet had significantly lower CRP levels. CRP stands for C-reactive protein. CRP is a marker for chronic inflammation.
Plant-based foods will contain higher levels of anti-oxidants which are like nature’s way of sending little inflammation blockers.
Lifestyle Changes and Inflammation
Your way of life, your eating habits, and your typical diet all play a big role in your overall health and how you feel on a daily basis. Aside from the health and environmental benefits of going vegan, there is just something beneficial about consuming more plants, fruits, and vegetables.
If you aren’t committed to becoming a vegan full-time, for example, adopting a vegan lifestyle for a few days a week on top of increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables can still do wonders to help your chronic inflammation symptoms.
Cutting back on meat and dairy just a few days a week and increasing the number of vegetables you are eating will help you reduce inflammation and also reduce the stress on your heart and cardiovascular system.
Just changing your lifestyle a little bit in this direction can do a lot.
Foods That Have Been Shown to Reduce Inflammation
There are a lot of foods that have been linked to reducing the risk of inflammation. Tomatoes, leafy greens such as kale and spinach and fruit such as oranges and blueberries are all great for fighting off inflammation.
While plant-based foods are great for combatting inflammation, there are definitely some foods you should avoid that aggravate inflammation.
Some foods to avoid include fried food, white bread, pastries, soda, sugary drinks, red meat, lard, and margarine.
Balanced Vegan Diet
A balanced vegan diet is one that may not only reduce inflammation, but it can also fight against cancer, cholesterol and heart disease.
While it may be difficult to adopt a fully vegan lifestyle, if you suffer from chronic inflammation, even doing so the majority of the time or reducing common inflammation triggers can make a big difference.
If you can combine a reduction in red meat, soft drinks, and fried foods, for example, while increasing your consumption of leafy greens, fruits, and tomatoes, for example, you might see a significant reduction in your symptoms.
For more resources and treatment for your chronic symptoms, visit the contact page to get in touch with a professional health care provider who can work with you on a care plan.
As with any lifestyle change, you should check with your primary care provider to see if a vegan diet is okay with your other medical conditions and see if you need any laboratory testing.