Benefits of a plant-based diet for mental health, immunity & recurrent miscarriages
Many important benefits of a plant-based diet, especially for animals and the health of the climate, are well known. Consuming a whole plant-food diet that includes vegetables, fruits, beans, seeds and whole-grains can reduce your risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and even certain cancers.
A plant-based diet can also support your mental health. One of the reasons diet can influence mood and impact mental health is that what you eat can directly affect the health of your gut bacteria, which produce many of the hormones active in the brain. Microbes in the gut thrive on fibre derived solely from whole plant foods including vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruits and whole grains. So it is unsurprising that a plant-based diet can be beneficial to your mental health. However, any causal impact of plant-based diets on mental health and the associated underlying mechanisms has yet to be demonstrated.
Diet is such an important component of mental health that it has inspired an entire field of medicine called nutritional psychiatry. What we eat matters for every aspect of human health, but particularly mental health. Eating a well-balanced diet, rich in vegetables and nutrients may be associated with feelings of wellbeing. In contrast, a poor diet with high levels of saturated fat, refined carbohydrates and processed food is linked to poorer mental health. There are a range of factors that can contribute to the development of mental health problems but these can certainly include a poorer diet and physical health.
A plant-based diet also supports a healthy immune system. Plants contain essential nutrients. The minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and phytochemicals in plants can help keep your body healthy and your hormones in balance so that your immune system can function efficiently, protecting you against infectious microorganisms.
Plant foods can reduce inflammation in the body. Prolonged inflammation can damage cells and tissue and has been linked to cancer and inflammatory diseases like arthritis. A plant-based diet can therefore help reduce one of the triggers of these diseases. The same antioxidants that boost the immune system also neutralise toxins and free radicals, viruses and bacteria.
The immune system is separated from your gut microbiome by a single layer of cells and consequently the two are in constant communication. A healthy microbiome empowers the neighbouring immune cells for optimal function.
A healthy immune system is also important for reducing your risk of cancer because it can recognise and attack mutations in cells, before they progress to disease.
During pregnancy, the immune system changes, helping to protect the baby growing in the womb. Recurrent miscarriages have been linked to problems with the way that the immune system adapts.
We help couples struggling with fertility difficulties and recurrent miscarriages. Consuming a plant-based diet can help improve our fertility as well as the immune system. A wholesome plant-based diet that includes spinach, beans, pumpkin, tomatoes and beetroot will improve your intake of iron and other essential nutrients required to support ovulation. A healthy diet and weight will aid sperm quality and numbers. Male fertility may also be aided by antioxidants found in a plant-based diet.