Healthy Eating Tips

Vegan Diets: Helping Your Body Heal Itself

In his book, Get Healthy, Go Vegan,* physician Neal Barnard made an astonishing observation regarding how diet impacts our health. According to Barnard, meals laden with meat and dairy have caused a surge in cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and other life-threatening ailments.

But Barnard and several other highly respected physicians, scientists and dieticians are pointing to studies that say we have the ability to reverse and even prevent many illnesses by eliminating all animal products. Organizations like the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) have even collected scientific data proving that meat and dairy are major contributors to disease, while wholesome fresh fruits, vegetables, grains and soy products may play a major role in warding off various diseases such as cancer. 

Consuming soy products like tofu may also boost the efficacy of traditional cancer therapies. A 1999 study by M.F. McCarty appearing in Nutrition revealed that “soy protein, as well as many other vegan proteins, are higher in non-essential amino acids than most animal-derived food proteins,” and could possibly offer greater health benefits.

Here’s some more information that confirms how a vegan diet can help you:

Heart Disease
Famed Harvard-trained physician and researcher Dean Ornish studied a group of heart patients who were place on low-fat, plant-based diets. Ornish reported that day-by-day the patients’ coronary arteries gradually widened and caused chest pain to “dissolve almost like magic.”

According to The Cancer Project, at least a third of yearly cancer deaths in the U.S. can be attributed to dietary factors. Their review of various scientific studies estimated that up to 80 percent of cancers of the large bowel, breast, and prostate result from dietary factors. It’s also suspected that due to an increase in our consumption of animal products, we’re also consuming a greater number of carcinogens found in animal tissues and milk.

A randomized controlled study conducted by PCRM, George Washington University and the University of Toronto discovered that subjects placed on a vegan diet had “significantly greater reductions” in their hemoglobin A1c, weight, LDL (“harmful” cholesterol) and body mass index compared to subjects who followed dietary guidelines issued by the American Diabetes Association. “I hope this study will rekindle interest in using diet changes first, rather than prescription drugs,” Barnard said.

Vegan diets appear to help with shedding unwanted pounds and maintaining a healthy weight. A 2009 study completed by physician Laurie Barclay suggested that plant-based diets protect against obesity. Two years earlier, the September 2007 journal Obesity, published a study entitled “A Two-Year Randomized Weight Loss Trial Comparing a Vegan Diet to a More Moderate Low-Fat Diet.” The study determined that subjects placed on the vegan diet showed significantly greater weight loss than individuals on a standard low-fat weight reduction plan.

Keep in mind that vegan is no longer synonymous with boring. There are currently a multitude of vegan cookbooks and websites with easy and tasty recipes should you decide to make the leap. A few interesting sites online include Oh She Glows, The Post-Punk Kitchen, and VegWeb. While it’s important to speak with your physician prior to making any major changes to your health regimen, a vegan diet may just help your body heal itself.

  • For more tips on plant-based nutrition, make sure to browse VegKitchen’s Nutrition page.
  • For lots more features on healthy lifestyle, please explore VegKitchen’s Healthy Vegan Kitchen page.

Melanie Bowen is an advocate for natural health and cancer cure initiatives. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in English with a specialty in Psychology and Medical Research, you will often find her highlighting the great benefits of different nutritional, emotional, and physical treatments on those with illnesses in her efforts to spread awareness.

*This post contains affiliate links. If the product is purchased by linking through this review, VegKitchen receives a modest commission, which helps maintain our site and helps it to continue growing!

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  • Reply
    August 12, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    Thanks for posting this! I recently watched a documentary about this called “Food Matters” which I thought was brilliant. It was really an eye opener. It touched a lot on how your body has the ability to heal and re-heal itself with the right types of food. It’s just so sad that people don’t take the time and get informed.

  • Reply
    April 24, 2012 at 9:51 am

    I wish there were more people interested in nutritional therapy like you are! Beautiful.

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