The father of ancient medicine, Hippocrates, said, “All disease begins in the gut”. That may not be strictly true, but if we could rank aspects of our health, gut health would be one of the most important. Vegan diets, which involve not eating meat, fish, or poultry, but animal products, have been found to improve gut health.
Why Gut Health Is Important
Hippocrates’ words ring very accurately. Securing gut health is very important to your overall health. Your gut regulates your ability to digest food and absorb its nutrients. It’s also essential for your mental well-being and your energy level.
Consequently, a healthy gut is, more often than not, a healthy you. That said, around 70% of people suffer from some problem with their gut health.
If you have chronic constipation, bloating, and/or diarrhea or you’re obese or overweight, food intolerances and allergies, skin problems such as eczema or psoriasis, or autoimmune disease, those could point to problems with your gut.
Gut health is typically caused by stress, poor sleep, excessively sterile environments, too much or too little exercise, and consuming an excessive amount of antibiotics. The sterility of environments may be surprising. Although it’s good to keep your home, your Wellington’s Leather Furniture, and the rest of your environment and belongings clean, your body needs a certain amount of dirt to keep learning how to deal with it. Overly sterile environments make your body susceptible to disease when encountering dirt. There are also dietary causes of poor gut health, mainly eating refined carbohydrates and gluten. There are things you can do to improve your gut health, and vegan diets are very good at helping you improve your gut health.
Food That’s Good for your Gut
Vegan diets are rich in fermentable fibers, prebiotics, and low saturated fats, which are great for your gut. Fermentable fibers are essential foods for your gut and are present in plants. Eating plants such as Jerusalem artichokes, asparagus, carrots, and alliums such as garlic, leeks, and onions, is very good for you. Fibers help to increase your bowel movements, which are essential for ridding your intestines of waste and preventing constipation.
Prebiotics induce the growth and activity of beneficial bacteria and fungi, and other microorganisms. Prebiotics can change how organisms are made up in the gut microbiome. Prebiotics are often nondigestible fiber compounds passing through the upper part of your gastrointestinal tract, stimulating the growth and activity of beneficial bacteria in the colon. Examples of prebiotics in food are beta-glucan in oats and inulin in chicory root.
Vegan diets have some of the lowest levels of saturated fats compared to other diets because saturated fats are mostly found in animal meat and meat products. Saturated fats increase your gut lining’s inflammation, which can cause ulcers, Crohn’s disease, and other conditions.
Omnivore diets have way more refined carbohydrates than vegan diets because, with a vegan diet, you don’t eat things like white bread, cake, cookies, pizza made with white flour, and other processed foods.
These foods are terrible for your gut health and for your overall health too. They’re quickly absorbed by the body and don’t do anything good for you, apart from satisfying your taste buds for a short while.
Vegan Diets and Autoimmune Disease
A growing body of evidence suggests that a vegan diet can help prevent and even treat autoimmune diseases. autoimmune disease is when the body mistakes healthy cells for foreign agents and starts to attack them. This can cause inflammation throughout the body. The most common autoimmune diseases are type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, psoriasis, Grave’s disease, lupus erythematosus, and multiple sclerosis.
A study conducted in 2016 showed that a vegan diet could help improve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. The study split the participants into two groups, one group ate their regular omnivore diet, and the other followed a vegan diet. The group that followed the vegan diet saw improvements in their disease activity, and they also lost weight and had lower levels of inflammation.
Another study in 2017 showed that a plant-based diet could help improve the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. The study found that those who followed a plant-based diet had less disability, less brain shrinkage, and fewer relapses than those who didn’t follow a plant-based diet.
A study conducted in 2018 showed that a vegan diet could help improve the symptoms of psoriasis. The study found that those who followed a vegan diet had less severe symptoms than those who didn’t follow a vegan diet. They also had lower levels of inflammation.
Many other studies have shown similar results. They all suggest that following a vegan diet can help improve the symptoms of autoimmune diseases and even help prevent them from developing in the first place. This is likely because vegan diets are rich in antioxidants, which help to reduce inflammation throughout the body.
Vegan diets are very good for your gut health. They’re rich in fiber, which helps to keep your bowel movements regular and prevents constipation. They’re also rich in prebiotics, which helps to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. And they’re low in saturated fats, which can cause inflammation in the gut lining. Vegan diets can also help to prevent and treat autoimmune diseases, likely because they’re rich in antioxidants, which help to reduce inflammation throughout the body.
Can I still eat my favorite foods if I go vegan?
Won’t I miss out on essential nutrients if I go vegan?
No, you can get all the nutrients from a well-planned vegan diet. However, ensuring you get enough vitamin B12, iron, and calcium is vital. You can get these nutrients from fortified foods or supplements.
Isn’t a vegan diet expensive?
I’m interested in going vegan but unsure where to start. Any tips?
A great way to start is by incorporating more plant-based meals into your diet. Try having Meatless Mondays or going vegetarian one day a week. You can also try organizing your favorite recipes. For example, you can make a vegan version of lasagna by using tofu in place of ground beef and vegan cheese in place of regular cheese. There are also many delicious plant-based foods that you may already enjoy, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans. So, you may find that going vegan is easier than you think!