6 health reasons to try a plant-based diet, according to doctors – Insider

A plant-based diet might help improve health by managing weight and preventing illness, and doctors should take note, according to a commentary published May 26 in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine
Doctors with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a nonprofit organization of health experts advocating for vegan diets, wrote in the commentary that medical experts should be more aware of the evidence-based benefits of diets rich in plant foods like greens, beans, fruits, and nuts. 
Plant-based diets may be especially helpful for six common health concerns, research suggests, ranging from cancer and cognitive decline to weight management and stable blood sugar. 
Eating a mostly vegan diet could help you maintain a healthy weight, according to the commentary. The authors cite a 2013 study of more than 70,000 people which found vegans tended to weigh nearly 10 pounds less, on average, than their omnivorous peers. 
Diets rich in plants may make it easier to maintain a lower weight because plant foods tend to be lower in calories than processed foods or animal products. Switching to a plant-based diet can help people lose weight , too — a 2022 study found vegan diet led to weight loss in 12 weeks, compared to either a Mediterranean diet or participants’ typical eating habits. 
Vegan diets may also help with weight loss by feeding the gut microbiome, beneficial bacteria in your digestive system, with plenty of fiber, according to a 2019 study. Fiber may also help you feel full for longer after eating, according to dietitians. 
Fiber is an important nutrient for long-term health and disease prevention, according to the commentary, and plant-based diets have been linked to lower risk of breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and prostate cancer
Adding more vegetables, fruits, and grains may also prevent cancer by increasing your intake of antioxidants, micronutrients that help reduce inflammation and stress on the cells. 
Plant based diets are also linked to significantly lower risk of diabetes, according to the commentary, and fiber likely plays a role. 
Fiber slows the digestion and absorption of glucose as your body breaks down carbohydrates for energy, which helps prevent dips and spikes in blood sugar, dietitians previously told Insider
As a result, plant foods may also help people who have diabetes manage their blood sugar too, research suggests. 
The vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients in plant foods could also stave off cognitive decline, evidence suggests. A 2020 study found that combined with other healthy lifestyle factors, eating more vegetables, grains, and legumes was linked to significantly lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease. 
As a result, plant-based diets should be recommended to fight Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, according to the commentary.
A wealth of evidence suggests eating plants is great for your heart by adding beneficial foods and reducing foods like meat linked to heart disease
Studies show vegetarians and vegans have significantly lower risk of heart attacks and similar issues than omnivores. 
Plant foods tend to be low in cholesterol and saturated fat, both of which have been linked to risks for heart health. 
More research is needed, but the health benefits of eating plants may be protective against the pandemic, according to the commentary. Healthy plant-based diets were linked to significantly lower risk of severe coronavirus infection, one 2021 study found.
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