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How Going Vegan Could Save Your Life

January 16, 2019

Vegans are often the butt of the joke, even among the health-conscious. Some people view veganism as an “extreme” diet. But the 0.5 percent of U.S. adults who follow a vegan diet may have actually found the secret to a long and healthy life.

A University of Cambridge study suggests that you lose 30 minutes of life every time you eat a hamburger. The World Preservation Foundation proposes 75 percent of common chronic diseases can be eradicated by switching to a vegan diet. A study from Italy’s University of Florence connected vegan diets to lower rates of heart disease and cancer. Other research links vegan diets to healthier digestive systems, healthier weight levels, milder menopause symptoms and lower stress levels.

Joe Cocuzza, a vegan of 8 years, cut animal products out of his diet primarily because of the health benefits. “From my research, it was pretty clear that most chronic illnesses that Americans suffer through are in a large part due to our diets,” he says. “By eliminating animal products from my diet, I’ve maintained a high level of energy and feel great about my long-term health.”

Cocuzza’s prognosis for his future health by be backed up by research: One study of almost 100,000 American men and women says vegans enjoy a 15% lower mortality rate than meat eaters. The individuals, all Seventh-day Adventists, were assessed by a food frequency questionnaire and categorized into 5 diets: nonvegetarian, semi-vegetarian (plant-based diet with occasional meat consumption), pesco-vegetarian (vegetarians who eat fish), lacto-ovo-vegetarian (vegetarians who eat eggs and dairy products) and vegans (no meat or animal products). Their overall conclusion after 6 years of study are that “vegetarian diets are associated with lower all-cause mortality and with some reductions in cause-specific mortality.” (JAVA Intern Med. 2013)

As a matter of fact, the top ten causes of death in the U.S. are directly related to diet, and may be reduced by a vegan lifestyle. Here’s a quick list of some of the deadly conditions veganism could reduce:

Heart and cardiovascular disease – Vegans are less likely to develop cardiovascular disease. Experts at the American Heart Association say eating saturated fats (high in meat and animal products) increases the cholesterol in your blood, which in turn increases the risk for heart disease and strokes. In fact, several studies have proved vegans have the most elastic arteries of any population; that’s important because the hardening of the arteries is a direct cause of heart attacks, strokes, and high blood pressure.

Cancer – A study from the Loma Linda University, funded by the National Cancer Institute, proves vegans have lower rates of cancer than both meat-eaters and vegetarians, especially when it comes to female-centric cancers like breast, cervical and ovarian cancer. Meat and dairy are linked to increased levels of IGF-1, a cancer-growing hormone in the body. In a plant-based diet, IGF-1 levels drop significantly and slow the growth (or perhaps even prevent) cancer cells.

Alzheimer’s – Vegans are 50% less likely to develop dementia as meat-eaters. So far, scientists have been unable to pinpoint why this is, but some argue Alzheimer’s disease is sometimes linked to inflammation, and a vegan diet promotes lower inflammation levels.

Diabetes – Vegans have a substantially lower risk of developing diabetes, as well as obesity, which is a risk factor for diabetes. A number of studies show that a vegan or mostly vegan diet can reduce blood sugar and improve other parameters for type 2 diabetes.

Doctors due warn that just sticking to fruits and vegetables isn’t enough, because you could be missing out on some important nutrients. They suggest supplementing your diet with vitamins. Some research suggests that 80% of vegans who do not take B12 supplements are lacking and may be at increased risk for bone loss and other health issues due to their deficiency. Medical professional’s best advice for those considering veganism or vegetarianism, is to do your research, and make sure you’re still eating a healthy, balanced diet.