Five Fitness Benefits of a Vegan Diet

It is World Vegan Month

For World Vegan month here are 5 ways eating a vegan diet improves your fitness.

1. Faster recovery from intense exercise.

Exercise is good for us mostly because of the recovery process. Exercise improves our anti-oxidant defence system, a little muscle damage increases our resistance and makes us stronger. We can enhance this process with flavonoids in fruits, vegetables and beans. These foods inhibit the activity of xanthine oxidase which is thought to be the largest contributor of free radicals during exercise. It is also thought that carbohydrates in plant foods decrease stress hormone levels which are activated during intense exercise. Some athletes think that taking anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory supplements is the quickest way to get these benefits, but it appears they only prevent the adaptations from exercise from taking place and reduce performance. By eating plants, especially berries and greens you get the best of both.

2. Weight Loss.

Plants are low in calorie density. You can eat a lot before you eat too many calories. Even adding three apples a day to your daily diet can result in weight loss. Yes, adding food increased weight loss. Sounds too good to be true, but when researchers added fruit to people’s diets they lost weight. The other benefit from eating a plant-based diet is that the calorie density is much lower, so even if you find yourself eating more food, you are still eating fewer calories.

Example of the Calorie Density of Foods

3. Decreased risk of lung disease.

Eating 5 or more fruits and vegetables every day can lower your risk of developing Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).  A study of over 44,000 middle aged men, including smokers, showed that the men that ate 5 or more fruits or vegetables were 40% less likely to develop COPD. Each serving of fruit  or greens reduced their risk of disease by 8%. Apples, pears, leafy greens and peppers seemed to bring the largest benefits. They not only reduce the risk of chronic lung disease, but also reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer. Eating the Standard American Diet (SAD) quadruples your risk of lung disease.

If you have asthma and eat a diet high in fruit and vegetables you can reduce the risks of asthma. Oxidative stress in the lungs because of air pollution, irritants and airway inflammation can be reduced by eating foods high in anti-oxidants, flavonoids, and carotenoids which are found in fruits and vegetables, nuts, cocoa and green tea.

4. Increased nutritional density.

Nutritional density rates your food choices based on the number of nutrients per pound. The food with the highest nutritional density are all vegetables. Reduce your calories and get more benefits by choosing plant-based foods.

Dr Fuhrman’s Aggregate Nutritional Density Index

5. Improved heart health.

A few weeks ago I posted about the study that showed active middle aged men had more plaque in their arteries, in Exercise Causes Heart Disease. I mentioned that the study did not take into account their diet, because you cannot exercise away a bad diet. Unfortunately often people don’t realize that you need to eat well and exercise, it is not one or the other. Eating a plant-based diet has been proven to prevent, treat and reverse heart disease in many separate studies. The President of the American College of Cardiologists states,

Dr. Kim Williams, President of the American College of Cardiology

Whether you decide to substitute some, or all, of your animal products for plants you are doing yourself a favour. Your heart, lungs, waist line and fitness will all benefit. 

Change your mind, change your health,

Shayla

 

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