How can a vegan diet improve your health?

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Maria Cohut 
checked by Paula Field
In a recent study, researchers
have compared the effects of a plant-based meal with those of a meal that
includes animal-derived products on a person’s health. The study concludes that
vegan meals may help a person stay healthy and manage weight gain.
New research shows how
plant-based meals contribute to your health.
In the United States,
approximately 93.3 million people live with obesity, and over 100 million have
diabetes or prediabetes.
A key factor in the
development of these — and other — metabolic conditions is diet.
According to the Office of
Disease Prevention and Health Promotion’s dietary guidelines for 2015-2020,
“the typical eating patterns currently consumed by many in the [US] do not
align” with official recommendations.
Their estimates indicate that
approximately “three-fourths of the population” does not consume
enough vegetables, fruits, dairy products, or oils.
New research conducted by
investigators from three international institutions — the Institute for
Clinical and Experimental Medicine and the Institute of Endocrinology in
Prague, Czech Republic, as well as the Physicians Committee for Responsible
Medicine in Washington, DC — now suggests that following a plant-based diet
could have a beneficial impact on many aspects of a person’s health.
More specifically, the study’s
findings — which the researchers report in “Vegan Nutrition,” which
is a special issue of the journal Nutrients — suggest that following a vegan
type diet fosters the presence of certain gut hormones that help to regulate
blood pressure.
These hormones also help a
person feel fuller sooner, and their action is thus beneficial for weight
good gut hormones
In this study, the research
team worked with 60 male participants, of whom 20 had a diagnosis of obesity,
20 had type 2 diabetes, and a further 20 had no health complaints and made up
the control group.
The researchers split the participants
randomly so that some of them ate a vegan meal with tofu, while others ate a
meal of processed meat and cheese. The researchers matched both meals for the
number of calories and macronutrients.
Regardless of whether they had
diabetes, obesity, or no health problems at all, the people who ate the vegan
meal had a higher level of beneficial gut hormones than the people who ate meat
and cheese.
The beneficial gut hormones,
the researchers explain, help regulate glucose (simple sugar) levels, insulin
production, and energy levels. They also help increase the feeling of satiety,
thus contributing to weight management.
According to the
investigators, people may feel fuller because plant-based foods are rich in
fiber, which can increase satiety but do not add extra calories.
“These beneficial gut
hormones can help keep weight down, enhance insulin secretion, regulate blood
sugar, and keep us feeling full longer,” notes study co-author Dr. Hana
“The fact that simple
meal choices can increase the secretion of these healthy hormones has important
implications for those with type 2 diabetes or weight problems,” she
In previous research — which
we covered last year on Medical News Today — Dr. Kahleova had already found
that vegan diets can help people with type 2 diabetes by increasing insulin
secretion and improving insulin sensitivity.
The current study strengthens
previously uncovered proof of the benefits afforded by plant-based diets, and
further shows that it can contribute to weight management.
“This study adds to the
mounting evidence that plant-based diets can help manage and prevent type 2
diabetes and obesity.”
Hana Kahleova

Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.