From losing weight to gaining muscle, people have all sorts of motivation for changing their diet and exercise habits. For many vegans, personal health is at the forefront of their minds during the switch to a plant-based lifestyle. Eating a nutrient-rich diet is one of the best ways to protect long-term health, and pairing it with a fitness regimen is even better. If you need a little extra motivation to make the switch to plant-based eating, here are some ways that changing your diet can change your life:
It’s all too easy to rely on simple carbohydrates and processed soy proteins when you go vegan, but simply avoiding animal products doesn’t make a diet healthy. Instead, vegans should build their diet around fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and plant-based proteins like beans, nuts, and seeds. Diversity is key to getting all of the essential nutrients your body and mind need to function properly, so be sure to incorporate a variety of foods from each food group rather than relying on a handful of favorites.
When you eat a well-balanced diet, both your mental and physical health benefit. Physically, you’re getting adequate nutrition to keep all your body’s systems running at peak performance, which strengthens the immune system and prevents both passing and chronic illnesses. That same logic applies to mental health as well: A nutrient-rich diet keeps your brain healthy, thus reducing the risk and severity of mental illness. Mental Health America identifies consumption of folate, Vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids as especially important for preventing mood disorders like depression.
Make the most of your healthy diet by pairing it with a fit, active lifestyle. Vegans can gain strength and endurance just as well as people who consume animal products as long as they get enough calories and protein. Exercising can even help new vegans stick to their diet, since working up a sweat is known to curb cravings and improve focus.
Reduced cravings for animal products is hardly the only reason to stay active. People who get at least 30 minutes of exercise five days a week are less likely to develop chronic illnesses like diabetes, suffer a stroke or heart attack, or become obese. Exercise helps prevent certain cancers, boosts your immune system, and strengthens the muscles and bones that support your body. If that’s not enough, consider that working out regularly gives you more energy, self-esteem, and motivation, increases your focus, and puts you in a better mood. According to the National Institutes of Health, regular exercise even protects your cognition as you age, so you’re as sharp at 70 as you are today.
One way that people have harnessed the power of a healthy diet and exercise regimen is by incorporating it into addiction recovery plans. When people leave behind a substance abuse problem, they often need something positive to take its place as a way to deal with stress. Since nutrition and exercise have such a powerful impact on mental health, they’re the perfect tool for coping with the challenges of recovery. Not only does living well help addicts beat cravings and stay positive, but it also aids in undoing the damage of years of drug or alcohol addiction.
While you may not have chosen veganism for health reasons alone, improving your physical and mental health is a great reason to give your diet a makeover. Whether you’re overcoming a health problem or just trying to make some positive life changes, you’ll see incredible benefits when you commit to eating well and staying active.
Article by: Jennifer McGregor
Image via Unsplash
For more information of hoe to transition to a plant-based/ vegan lifestyle and diet please read our other articles here: