Does a Vegan Diet Detox Have an Effect on Mental Health?
The physical health benefits of a plant-based diet are well-known. But were you aware that a vegan diet detox can also provide mental health benefits? A great deal of research has been done into plant-based, whole-food diets in the past 10 years. The results of these studies have doctors encouraging their patients to adopt the vegan diet detox approach. Up until recently, however, vegan diet research has not focused on the benefits to mental health nutrition can deliver. In this piece, ARIA explores the physical and mental health benefits of a vegan diet.
When discussing the health benefits of a vegan diet, it’s important to examine what a healthy vegan diet might look like. Bear in mind everything said about the vegan diet from here forward with this disclaimer in mind: Simply cutting all the animal flesh and dairy out of your diet alone does not guarantee you the benefits associated with the vegan diet detox. We all remember that eccentric kid in college who survived on nothing but peanut butter and Pringle’s potato chips. That’s not the kind of vegan diet we’re talking about here. If you are looking for the benefits physical and mental health nutrition can deliver, you must eat a balanced diet, vegan or otherwise.
What’s the Difference Between Vegan and Vegetarian?
Simply put, a true vegan does not eat any animal products of any sort. This means no meat or animal flesh. They don’t eat beef, poultry or even fish. No escargot or chocolate-covered crickets. They don’t eat dairy either. Dairy includes anything milk-based, so cheese, yogurt, kefir, ice cream are off-limits. A strict vegan won’t even eat honey in most cases, as it is technically an animal product as well. A vegan diet differs from other vegetarian diets in that it is the only fully vegetarian diet. Here is a basic guide to the types of vegetarianism:
- Semi-Vegetarian: Semi-vegetarians eat a predominantly vegetarian diet but may eat a limited amount of meat, including fish.
- Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian: A lacto-ovo vegetarian eats a vegetarian diet but includes dairy and eggs, but never meat in any form, including fish.
- Lacto-Vegetarian: Lacto-vegetarians eat a vegetarian diet but includes dairy. They do not eat eggs or meat in any form, including fish.
- Vegan: A vegan diet is purely vegetarian and excludes animal products of any kind (meat, milk, eggs etc.). Strict vegans avoid honey as well.
The Health Benefits of a Vegan Diet
A well-balanced vegan diet will include fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains. Some people refer to this as whole-food plant-based or WFPB. The point is you not only avoid meat and dairy, but also processed foods. Processed foods include things like refined white flour, pasta, white rice, baked goods, candy and sweets and most snack foods. The idea is to eat primarily foods which are as close to their natural state as possible. This helps regulate blood sugar because a balanced vegan diet includes a lot of fiber and very little simple sugar. This can help avoid type 2 diabetes later in life and makes maintaining a healthy weight much easier.
The balanced vegan diet detox provides anti-inflammatory qualities and encourages regular bowel movements. It also excludes a lot of carcinogenic compounds found in the modern American diet. A vegan diet detox can even reduce your likelihood of developing many common diseases. These include cardiovascular disease, diabetes and certain cancers.
4 Ways a Vegan Diet Detox Can Improve Your Mental Health
Recent research has found that the vegan diet detox can also benefit mental health as well. The fact is that good physical health and an absence of disease tends to promote better mental health. Simply put, if you feel better physically, you’ll feel better mentally. Here are 5 ways a vegan diet detox can improve your mental health.
- Brain Health: Balanced vegan diets have a higher level of total Omega-3 and much lower levels of saturated fats which improves brain health.
- Focus and Mood: Studies have shown that a plant-based diet improves mental health nutrition, boosting focus, clarity of mind and mood.
- Less Depression: Research has shown measurable improvements in depression for people who switched to a balanced vegan diet detox.
- Lower Anxiety and Stress: Vegan diets lack arachidonic acid, which is found only in meat. Research shows eliminating this from the diet reduces anxiety.
Does a vegan detox diet affect mental health in a positive way? The answer is yes, it can. But it’s important to remember this only applies if you use a balanced vegan diet detox which includes lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and avoids processed foods. To get the maximum health benefits from any diet, you should also include vitamin supplements in your regimen. It’s almost impossible to get the exact amount you need of every nutrient every day without supplements. Vegans must pay attention to B-12 and iron levels. There is little question that a balanced vegan diet is a great way to attain the many benefits physical and mental health nutrition provides.
If you or someone you love is living with a mental health or substance use disorder, ARIA can help. We are addiction care specialists who are compassionate about helping people. Please feel free to call us at (844) 973-2641 or reach out to us via our contact page.