Health Conditions that Benefit from a Plant-Based Diet - dummies

Health Conditions that Benefit from a Plant-Based Diet

By Marni Wasserman

The nutrients available in plant-based foods can drastically improve your health, no matter which disease you’re suffering from or trying to prevent. Plants are nature’s medicine! In case you need more convincing, here are some other chronic conditions that benefit from a plant-based diet.

Autoimmune diseases and a plant-based diet

An autoimmune disease is a condition in which a person’s immune system attacks itself. This class of diseases includes many different disorders that bring on a variety of symptoms. Some common autoimmune diseases include:

  • Graves’ disease: A hyperthyroid condition that causes the thyroid to enlarge to twice its size

  • Rheumatoid arthritis: An inflammatory disorder that affects tissues, organs, and joints

  • Vitiligo: A condition that causes skin depigmentation

  • Multiple sclerosis: An inflammatory disease where the insulating covers of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord are damaged

For people with autoimmune diseases, plant-based foods can help minimize symptoms, boost energy, prevent the development of other diseases, and stop the disease from progressing any further. Meat and dairy have been known to have negative effects on people living with autoimmune diseases because they can aggravate the condition, so simply removing such foods from your diet and converting to plant foods can be very helpful.

Gout sufferers benefit from a plant-based diet

Gout is characterized by sudden, severe attacks of pain, redness, and tenderness in joints, often the joint at the base of the big toe. Obesity, unstable blood sugar, and — yes — a meat-based diet can increase the risk of developing gout. To combat it, eat fresh veggies, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and healthy fats.

Plant-based eating aids blood-sugar management, helping you keep gout at bay. Because you fill up on whole foods, you have fewer cravings for and less dependence on refined grains and sugars and processed foods.

When treating gout, limit your consumption of dried beans and lentils. These items are high in purines, which can increase the levels of uric acid in the body. This is a big problem because gout results from a buildup of uric acid.

Alzheimer’s disease and a plant-based diet

Glial cells, which provide support and protection for neurons in your brain and parasympathetic nervous system, are believed to help remove debris and toxins from the brain that can contribute to Alzheimer’s disease. For example, accumulation of aluminum in the body has been linked with the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Many plant-based foods, especially those that are rich in antioxidants, such as green tea and dark berries, may help protect glial cells from damage. When glial cells are damaged, they lose their ability to function properly, which can affect brain function.

Additionally, the increased fiber intake in a plant-based diet helps rid the body of toxins via elimination of wastes. Increased consumption of heavy-metal chelators (foods that help remove toxins from the body, such as cilantro, parsley, and chlorella) also helps to remove aluminum from the body.