Switching to a vegan diet has gained some serious popularity in recent years, thanks in part to a growing desire to achieve environmental sustainability.
Removing all animal products from your diet can leave you facing nutritional challenges you might not have thought twice about before - a conscious need to ensure a healthy intake of iron and Vitamin B12, being just some of the important considerations. But, as with everything, there are many reported benefits to a plant-based diet, too.
One such benefit, according to the founder of Nosh Detox, nutritionist Geeta Sidhu-Robb, can be the impact being vegan has on your mood. Here are four ways your mood may be affected by a vegan diet:
1. You might feel less depressed
Research published in the Nutritional Journal has suggested that vegetarians may be happier than their meat-eating counterparts. "It was found that vegetarians had lower scores on depression tests and mood profiles when compared to fish and meat-eaters," noted Geeta. And why could this be the case? "The elimination of long chain fatty acids, predominantly arachidonic acid which is present in meat and is associated with symptoms of depression, means you are less at risk of suffering from it," she explained. "Vegan diets also have more complex carbohydrates present which increase the feel good hormone serotonin in the brain."
2. Your improved health could equal a better mood
With a vegan diet, you will be consuming a higher level of vitamins and nutrients than you would with a meat eating diet, which, Geeta explained, will help combat illnesses and disease. "Vitamin C, for example, is one of the best immune system boosters as it helps your body produce antibodies and also stimulates the production of white blood cells which are what help ward off unwanted illnesses. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps fight off infection," said the nutritionist. And a lower chance of illness = a better mood all round. "When you are ill, you tend to feel lethargic, worn down and miserable, so a vegan diet can help prevent this," the expert added.
3. You might notice a better quality of sleep
"Due to the increased consumption of vitamins such as magnesium and calcium, you will have a more regulated and effective sleep cycle," said Geeta. "Magnesium helps improve your sleep health whilst calcium helps aid a healthy sleep cycle. We all know a lack of sleep can put us in a bad mood," she added, noting: "The highest source of magnesium comes from plant based foods such as spinach, pumpkin seeds and avocados."
4. You may have decreased stress levels
A vegan diet will help lower your blood pressure, cholesterol and weight which means you will be in overall better physical health. In turn, Geeta says this can mean anxiety and stress levels drop. "The vitamins calcium, potassium, magnesium and vitamin B have been linked to lower stress levels, and you will be consuming higher levels of these on a vegan diet," said the nutritionist. "Antioxidants found in vitamins A, C and E help reduce free-radical damage, which increases when we are stressed. A study also published in the Nutritional Journal found participants to have decreased levels of stress after just two weeks," Geeta added.
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