There is more than one reason to start eating healthier–in fact, there are 72 reasons. This new book, 72 Reasons To Be Vegan: Why Plant-Based. Why now. examines the positive impact a vegan diet can have on everything from your skin to your health. You can ward off Alzheimer’s, Type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and other metabolic diseases.
Read an excerpt from 72 Reasons To Be Vegan below.
Your Skin Will Look Amazing
It turns out that people who eat a lot of dairy (cheese, yogurt, milk, and so on) have a higher propensity to break out. In a study published. In a study published in the Archives of Dermatology, researchers following 1,300 predominately plant-based people in New Guinea and remote regions of Paraguay could not diagnose a single pimple over two years.
What’s going on here? The culprit can be dairy itself, yes, but it’s also what goes into dairy products, too. Dairy cows are given artificial hormones and antibiotics that boost milk production–chemicals that can trigger acne breakouts when consumed by humans. Even the hormones naturally found in cow’s milk can exacerbate acne, so while switching to organic dairy products may improve the situation, it won’t make your skin glow.
More proof: Harvard University researchers followed six thousand girls ages nine to fifteen for several years to see if there was a link between diet and skin appearance. Sure enough, the study found a “positive association between intake of milk and acne,” and the results were confirmed in a subsequent study involving teenage boys. Other studies suggest that excess calories, added sugars, and meat can also affect protein signaling, making your body pump out more acne-causing oil and sebum.
So, say you’ll cut out the animal products to clear up your acne–excellent, but don’t stop there! Fruits and vegetables are loaded with antioxidants, which decrease inflammation and neutralize harmful free radicals–unstable atoms that can damage cells, cause disease, and prematurely age the body inside and out. For the supplest, most wrinkle-free skin, eat the rainbow of naturally colorful plants. Think fresh plump tomatoes, sweet potatoes, yellow bell peppers, blueberries, spinach, and beets. Fruits and vegetables are also loaded with carotenoids, which have been proven to promote a glowing skin tone.
The conclusion? If you want better skin, spend some more time in the produce aisle!
Fiber Is Your Body’s Bitch
Vegans, assuming they’re not consuming mostly processed foods, eat high-fiber diets. Fiber is a kind of skeleton for plants, helping them maintain their shape and structure. When you eat unprocessed plant foods, you end up crunching down on a lot of it. The fiber from fruits, veggies, grains, nuts, and beans then mixes with the liquid in your gut to create a gel-like substance. As you digest your food, that gel slows the absorption of sugars and the subsequent release of insulin into the bloodstream. At the same time, it pushes against the stretch receptors in your stomach, telling your brain you’ve eaten enough. The result is that you feel full–and your energy remains steady and strong because of the slowed release of blood sugar.
Once in your body, fiber acts like a scrub brush pushing through your colon, grabbing stuff from inside the nooks and crannies in your 12-foot-long intestinal tract, and helping to usher it all out your back end, effectively getting rid of any old gunk, including carcinogens and other waste, that might otherwise cause a problem if left in your system. One thing fiber does leave behind: a healthy gut biome. It feeds the good bacteria in your belly that help regulate inflammation and immune function.
More and more research on fiber confirms that it has numerous other health benefits, such as lowering your cholesterol levels, as well as lowering your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and several types of cancer, meaning that the more fiber you eat, the more likely you are to live longer. Eating fiber is also one of the best ways to achieve a healthy weight. And, you’ll have more regular, normal bowel movements, while reducing the risk of hemorrhoids.
So, eat fiber. As much as possible. For men, that means about 40 grams a day, and for women, about 25 grams (about 20 percent less if you’re over 50). And remember to drink lots of water–fiber works best when it absorbs water.
Only plants have fiber. Meat, dairy, and eggs have none.
Dairy Doesn’t Do A Body Good
Do you have any of the following symptoms after eating dairy: bloating, excessive farting, burping or belching, pain, cramping, a belly that looks nin months pregnant, or a slight feeling that your stomach might just simply explode? If so, there’s a good chance you are lactose intolerant, just like 65 percent of the global population. A lot of people are misdiagnosed with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) when what they are really experiencing is a genetic inability to digest cheese or milk.
Lactose intolerance is the most common generic deficiency worldwide, and it comes from not having enough lactase (an enzyme meant to break down milk sugar) in your system to digest the lactose (sugar) from milk. So if you’re among the 65 percent, the undigested lactose you ingest when indulging in dairy causes inflammation, bringing massive amounts of water into your small intestine and colon, which then could lead to watery diarrhea and major bloat. Bacteria in your colon finally metabolize the undigested lactose, and you get some might malodourous fermentation churning away down there, which eventually escapes your body as smelly gas.
People who are lactose intolerant often think there is something wrong with them and treat it like a medical condition. But when you consider that the majority of the world’s older population can’t digest dairy, it’s worth thinking of lactose intolerance as normal. It makes sense: Why should we be able to properly digest the milk of other animals? Biologically speaking, we are not intended to drink dairy (the fluid of a lactating animal that is designed by nature for her baby).
Some people are mildly lactose intolerant, which means they experience only mild nausea, gas, or general discomfort. Humans are remarkable animals who can adapt to and live with regular pain, but why not figure out if you have lactose intolerance and can do away with that stomachache? Just give up dairy 100 percent for at least a month. Check labels to make sure it’s not hiding in your salad dressing, cookies, and other sneaky places, because food manufacturers love putting dairy everywhere. Look for ingredients like casein and its derivatives (caseinate, for example(, lactate, curds, ghee, and whey. Try oat, almond, hemp, coconut, rice, or soy milk instead of cow’s milk, and you’ll likely get a flatter belly and a whole lot less gas. And if you’re a cheese freak, look for the ton on nondairy cheeses in the market now. Same for ice cream, yogurt, and even ranch or blue-cheese dressing.
Note: Lactose intolerance is different from “dairy sensitivity.” Dairy sensitivity means that you essentially have an allergic reaction to the cow’s milk proteins, and that can lead to such issues as eczema, serious sinus problems, inflammatory bowel disease, and damage to the gastrointestinal lining. The solution to both conditions is the same, however: Don’t consume dairy.
Check out Switch4Good.org to find out more.
Adapted from 72 Reasons to Be Vegan: Why Plant Based. Why Now. by Kathy Freston and Gene Stone. Workman Publishing © 2021