Besides becoming a vegetarian for concerns about animal welfare and the use of antibiotics and hormones in livestock, or a desire to eat in a way that avoids the exploitation of environmental resources, it also has some wondrous benefits for your body. Almost everyone with healthy urges has contemplated the meatless life at one time or another. So, what exactly does your body love about being vegetarian?
Plant-based eating is recognised as not only nutritionally sufficient (the days of the zombie anaemic vegetarian stereotype is gone), but also as a way to reduce the risk of many chronic illnesses. According to the American Dietetic Association, “appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases”. The key is a diet that is “appropriately planned”, as in following recommended guidelines on nutrition, fat consumption, and weight control, and not a veg diet of coke, cheese pizza, and sweets. Going meatless will only make your body happy if you make sure that you eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It’s also vital to replace saturated and trans fats with good fats, such as those found in nuts, olive oil, and avocados. If so, this is what the veg life can do for your body:
It decreases your risk of disease
By munching meatless your body can combat heart disease, cancer, type 2-diabetes and obesity. In one of the largest studies on vegetarianism, it was found that vegetarians were on average 25% less likely to die of heart disease. It is also found that vegetarians can reduce their risk of colon cancer just by cutting out red meat. Similarly, the Harvard-based Women’s Health Study found a correlation between eating red meat (especially processed meats, such as bacon and hot dogs) and diabetes risk, after adjusting for BMI, total calorie intake, and exercise.
It can help you lose weight
Being a veggie-lover is an easy way to cut out the junk food and lose some of that unwanted lard. A vegetarian diet is associated with a higher consumption of fibre, folic acid, vitamins C and E, magnesium, unsaturated fat, and countless phytochemicals. This often results in vegetarians having lower cholesterol and being slimmer. That’s because there is absolutely no health benefit, at all, to eating animal fat. And so when you cut it out, you also cut out its nasty effects on your body.
It can help you manage your gut flora
Vegetarianism may also help you promote the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut. Our immune and nervous systems are largely affected by how healthy our guts are, which is determined by how much good bacteria we have in our bodies. This means our mood is affected by our gut flora, not to mention how prone we are to everything from the common cold to serious diseases due to weakened immunity or poor digestion and assimilation of nutrients.
One of the most important factors in caring for our bodies is to eat a diet that supports our good bacteria and doesn’t feed bad bacteria. Bad bacteria can flourish in a body nourished by red meats, processed meats and meats farmed in factories, as well as fish laced with pesticides. Although your microbiome can worsen because of other factors, one of the most beneficial things you can do is eat more natural plant-based foods with all the fibre your gut needs.