According to Hopkins Medicine, one in four adults suffer from a diagnosable mental health condition. The most common are generalized anxiety disorder and depression, followed by many others that range in severity.
While some seek treatment, many more are undiagnosed or find other ways of managing their illness. Some of the most common advice given for improving your mental health is to get more sleep, spend less time online, and stay active.
A change in diet or health practices can also have a significant impact on your mindstate and overall health! In fact, one of the first things that holistic practitioners recommend to patients with any disease is a change of diet.
So, how does going vegan affect your mental health?
In today’s post, I’m going to show you some of the key ways that going vegan can change your state of mind. I’ll show you what the data says so you can see for yourself!
How Going Vegan Can Affect Your Mental Health
Here’s the thing about any diet –
If you’re going on a diet, it’s safe to say that you’re doing it to better yourself in some way.
Whether you’re going vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, flexerian, you-name-it, you want to improve. Maybe you want to look better or be more athletic. Or perhaps you just want to remedy some stomach issues you’ve been having.
By going vegan, you’re sending a clear message to your brain that you’re trying to get better. And that alone, is a great sign that your mental health is improving. If you can stick with your diet and turn it into a lifestyle, you can see notable growth in both physical and mental health.
Now, let me show you some of the other ways that veganism can affect your mental health!
What The Data Says
In 2018 an Oxford University study performed a survey on a random group of people, ranging between all ages and genders. The study was designed to study whether vegans and vegetarians were at higher or lower risk for depression and anxiety, compared to non-vegans.
The study showed that vegans are statistically more likely to suffer from depression, while they are less likely to suffer from anxiety.
Of course, this was a relatively basic study and no further tests were performed. Also, correlation does not always equal causation. So, overall, there aren’t any reliable statistics to determine whether or not vegans, as a whole, are more or less prone to mental illness.
What Nutrition Says
When we look at nutritional facts and studies, things get a little bit more interesting, though. So, here are some of the key facts that point to the mental health effects of a plant-based diet.
Plant-Based Foods Can Improve Energy Levels
Plant-based foods like fruits, veggies, nuts, legumes, and seeds are easier to digest and stimulate the thyroid gland. Once stimulated, our thyroid keeps our body’s metabolism elevated throughout the day. An elevated metabolism means more energy throughout the day and less drowsiness.
In fact, one of the first things that I noticed after going vegan was that I no longer felt like I needed to take a nap in the middle of my day. I was able to cruise through my day with my usual morning cup of coffee and really didn’t get tired until after dark.
Plant-Based Food Is Better For Our Gut
Plant-based foods are better for our gut, which is also strongly linked to our overall health. For one, whole plants and grains have lots of fibers, which keeps our digestive processes smooth and moving. This, in turn, can limit bloating, cramping, & gassiness.
Your gut and brain are strongly connected, meaning that stomach problems can significantly impact your mental wellbeing.
Some forms of plant-based protein even have high levels of natural probiotics that help us maintain good gut health and keep away bad bacteria. For example, one of my favorite plant-based protein sources is tempeh, a food made from dried, fermented soybeans that makes for a great chicken replacement.
Plant-Based Eating Is Associated With Lower Body Fat
Numerous studies have shown that plant-based diets are far better for maintaining healthy body weight and are associated with lower body fat percentage. According to the U.K.’s Mental Health Organization, around one-third of all adults admitted to feelings of depression linked with their body image.
If you stick with a clean, healthy vegan diet, then your body is, without a doubt, going to get healthier. It’s not an overnight process. When combined with a healthy lifestyle, though, you’re going to look and feel a lot better than before. This, of course, can massively improve your self-image, confidence, and can help your mental health.
Plant-Based Eating: More Than Just A Diet
Plant-based eating is more than just a fad diet. It’s a lifestyle. In fact, even top-performing athletes like Venus Williams and Tom Brady claim that a plant-based or mostly-plant-based diet has been critical to maintaining their physical health and mental focus through their careers.
Plant-based foods are incredible for your body and fuel it with all of the healthy vitamins, minerals, and nutrients your body needs to produce more of what’s good for it. When your body is balanced and your energy levels are high, your mental health will almost always improve!