This article is reviewed by a team of registered dietitians and medical doctors with extensive, practical clinical and public health experience.
Vegan Anti Inflammatory Diet [AU]: Benefits & How To Follow In 2023
Inflammation is our body’s natural response to injury or infection. It is a vital part of the immune system and is a sign of a healthy body. But when inflammation becomes chronic, it can lead to multiple health issues.
Chronic inflammation is linked to heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, autoimmune disorders, arthritis, and even certain types of cancer. It can damage tissues and organs and disrupt hormonal and other bodily functions.
One science-backed way of reducing inflammation is adopting a vegan, anti-inflammatory diet. This approach emphasizes plant-based whole foods and excludes animal products and most processed foods.
In this article, we’ll explore the fundamentals of a vegan, anti-inflammatory meal plan and the best anti-inflammatory vegan foods to include. We’ll also cover the science-backed health benefits and tips for following a vegan or vegetarian anti-inflammatory diet in a healthy way that works for you. Read on!
What Is An Anti-Inflammatory Vegan Diet?
An anti-inflammatory vegan diet focuses on plant-based whole foods that help lower inflammation. These anti-inflammatory foods can improve overall health and reduce chronic inflammation.
Who Can Benefit From A Vegan Anti-Inflammatory Diet?
If you want to improve your overall health and well-being, you might benefit from a plant-based anti-inflammatory diet. To be clear, certain people may benefit more than others from a vegan meal plan’s anti-inflammatory properties.
You may benefit most from a vegan, anti-inflammatory diet if you have:
Chronic Inflammatory Conditions
Adopting a vegan, anti-inflammatory diet may help ease inflammation and alleviate the symptoms of inflammatory diseases such as:
- Osteo- and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Inflammatory bowel disease.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome.
- Autoimmune disorders, such as lupus.
A plant-based whole foods diet is high in anti-inflammatory foods providing antioxidants, phytonutrients, and fiber. These can help reduce inflammation by modulating the body’s immune system and response.
A plant-based diet can also promote cardiovascular health. Its focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and healthy fats can help:
- Lower blood pressure.
- Reduce cholesterol levels.
- Decrease the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Studies show that following a vegan diet significantly reduces cardiovascular disease risk — and the risk of dying from cardiovascular problems.
Lifestyle diseases like type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and obesity are often associated with chronic inflammation due to poor dietary choices.
The good news is that switching to a whole food plant-based diet may help reduce inflammation associated with metabolic dysfunction. Studies show that eating more anti-inflammatory foods can aid weight loss and improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control.
Digestive Health Issues
Digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, and inflammatory bowel disease are linked to gut inflammation.
Research shows that eating more vegan sources of dietary fiber can promote healthy digestion and supports a balanced gut microbiome. Incorporating various plant-based foods, such as colorful fruits and veggies, may reduce gut-related inflammation and uncomfortable symptoms, such as bloating.
Health Benefits Of A Vegan Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Adopting a healthy plant-focused diet may provide various physical and emotional benefits, including:
Reduced Chronic Inflammation
A vegan whole foods diet can help fight inflammation throughout the body. This can reduce pain and swelling, protect you from heart disease, delay neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, and improve your quality of life.
Improved Weight Management
Plant-based foods are usually lower in calories and higher in fiber than animal products. The high fiber content helps promote feelings of fullness, reducing food cravings and overeating.
The abundance of nutrient-dense foods in a healthy vegan meal plan can also support metabolism and insulin sensitivity – both key aspects of weight loss.
Reduced Chronic Disease Risk
Multiple studies suggest that healthy plant-based diets are associated with a reduced risk of preventable conditions.
Research consistently shows that those following plant-based diets have lower blood pressure than animal-based diets. Further studies show that eating a healthy plant-based diet rich in whole plant foods reduces type 2 diabetes risk by up to 34% and the risk of all-cause mortality by 25%.
Improved Nutrient Intake
A plant-focused diet loaded with fresh fruits and veggies can provide most nutrients required for optimal health. Eating diverse fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and seeds is a healthy way to get many essential nutrients, including protein, vitamins, and minerals.
However, vegans are at risk of clinical nutrition deficiencies — especially in vitamin B12, calcium, and iodine. Consult a registered dietitian to ensure proper planning and attention to your unique nutritional requirements on a vegan diet.
Better Bone Health
Plant-based sources of calcium include fortified plant milk, tofu, leafy green vegetables, and ready-to-eat cereals. Several fruits and veggies provide essential nutrients for bone health, like vitamin K, magnesium, and potassium.
Research suggests there might be a link between plant-based diets and mental health. However, more research is needed before concluding the impact of plant vs. animal foods on mental well-being.
Earlier studies found reduced rates of depression and anxiety and greater productivity in vegans compared to meat-eaters. But newer research suggests that healthy plant-based diets are not linked to improved mental health. Rather, unhealthy vegan diets — with sugary snacks and other processed foods — may be associated with a higher risk of anxiety and depression.
Inflammation-Reducing Vegan Foods
Many plant-based foods are known for their anti-inflammatory potential. Adding these into your vegan diet can help further reduce inflammation:
Numerous vegetables contain anti-inflammatory polyphenols and antioxidants:
- Bell peppers.
- Onions and garlic.
- Bok choy.
Several fruits contain antioxidant compounds that can help protect against inflammation:
- Berries, including strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries.
- Legumes and beans, including lentils, chickpeas, and black beans.
- Nuts and seeds, including chia seeds, walnuts, and flaxseeds.
- Nut and seed butters, such as almond butter.
- Green tea.
- Healthy oils, including coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, and avocado oil.
- Fortified plant milk, such as almond milk.
Tips To Follow A Plant-Based Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Vegan diets don’t have to be boring or restrictive, but if you’ve never eaten vegan, you may be wondering how to start. Here are six quick tips for adopting a more plant-based lifestyle:
- Emphasize whole plant-based foods: Make whole, plant-based foods the foundation of your diet. Vegan meat substitutes can add flavor and variety occasionally but prioritize fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and seeds for optimal nutrition. A green smoothie is a great way to get extra veggies into your diet.
- Include anti-inflammatory herbs and spices: Herbs and spices are good sources of antioxidant phytonutrients that can help fight inflammation. to boost your diet’s health benefits and add flavor to your meals. Try including ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, garlic, and basil.
- Opt for healthy fats: Choose fats with anti-inflammatory properties, such as avocados, nuts, seeds, and extra virgin olive oil.
- Avoid processed foods: Avoid additional inflammation by minimizing processed foods such as meat substitutes, frozen meals, certain breakfast cereals, and packaged sweets. Sugary snacks increase inflammation.
- Consider a meal delivery service: If you don’t have time to cook, vegan meal delivery services can save you time and effort while ensuring nutritious and well-balanced meals.
- Be mindful of potential nutritional deficiencies: Pay attention to key nutrients that may be lacking in a vegan diet, such as vitamin B12, iron, calcium, and vitamin D. Consider taking a greens superfood supplement to fill nutritional gaps.
Adopting a vegan, anti-inflammatory diet can offer numerous health benefits. By focusing on whole, plant-based foods and avoiding inflammatory ingredients, you’ll be on your way to reducing chronic inflammation, improving heart health, supporting healthy weight loss, and reducing the risk of chronic conditions.
Remember, not all vegan diets are healthy. Some contain partially hydrogenated oils and sugary snacks that increase inflammation. It is crucial to prioritize whole rather than processed foods to reap the anti-inflammatory benefits. Be sure to address potential nutritional deficiencies with a registered dietitian so you can safely embrace the power of plants to heal inflammation today!
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