Heart attack: Experts claim a vegan diet can 'help prevent' them
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Starring in 2019 drama and war based film Midway, which is being shown on Channel 4 tonight (Saturday January, 22), the actor has followed a vegan diet for 30 years. Being credited as one of PETA’s 20 famous vegetarians back in 2011, followed by PETA’s Sexiest Vegetarian in 2012, the star has also convinced a number of Hollywood A-listers to adopt the lifestyle too. In fact, more than just being a vegan, Harrelson has admitted in the past to eating “mostly raw”, crediting the diet for its health benefits.
Talking to InStyle, the star elaborated more on why exactly he decided to follow the “raw” diet. He said: “I eat vegan, but I eat mostly raw.
“If I have a cooked meal, I feel my energy drop. So when I first started shifting my diet, it wasn’t as much a moral or an ethical pursuit but an energetic pursuit.”
Tanya Maher, a holistic health coach, chef and owner of a London-based raw food restaurant told the BBC: “Raw food isn’t just about eating more salad – although that can never hurt.
“In this context, it means eating uncooked foods. Raw food is anything that has not been refined, canned or chemically processed, and has not been heated above 48C.”
Maher went on to explain the multiple health benefits she feels a raw diet has, including an increase in energy and focus, the same point that Harrelson makes.
“In addition, my acne cleared, and I have stronger hair and nails. You don’t have to eat 100 percent raw either.
“Include uncooked veg and greens with your meals, and opt for unprocessed, whole foods wherever possible.”
When interviewing Harrelson, InStyle took time to comment on the ageless appearance of the 60-year-old [then 56] star.
They reported: “Prior to our interview, he shuffles out of the house, sticks his head into the pool, and then heads straight for a vegan repast: salad, avocado, tahini, hummus, seed crackers, all of which must be contributing to the [then] 56-year-old looking about 45.”
When asked what he feels has kept him in such good shape, Harrelson replied saying “diet is crucial,” another nod to his veganism.
Throughout his activism work, Harrelson has influenced stars like Liam Hemsworth, Thandie Newton and Stranger Things star Sadie Sink to all try veganism.
After working with Harrelson on the 2018 hit Solo: A Star Wars Story, Newton admitted that she was one of his vegan “converts”, adding in an interview: “Yes. Literally. The past four months, it’s been four months.”
“It hasn’t done anything to my brain, I’m absolutely fine. Thank you so much. It hasn’t done anything.”
With more and more people eating vegan meals, the lifestyle choice is generally considered to be higher in fibre and lower in cholesterol, protein, calcium and salt in comparison to an omnivorous diet.
But there are still some concerns about cutting meat, fish, eggs and dairy completely out of our diets. A report by BBC Future explained that a common concern is whether the vegan diet provides enough vitamin B12, which adults should be consuming 1.5 micrograms per day.
“A B12 deficiency can lead to neurological symptoms such as numbness, and it’s irreversible if the deficiency is present for too long,” Janet Cade, of the Nutritional Epidemiology Group, School of Food Science and Nutrition told the BBC.
One study published in 2013 aimed to give physicians the latest nutritional update on plant-based diets. They monitored a case study of a 63-year-old man who had a history of hypertension and was complaining to his GP with fatigue, nausea and muscle cramps.
As a result, the case study was prescribed a low-sodium, plant-based diet that excluded all animal products and refined sugars and limited bread, rice, potatoes, and tortillas to a single daily serving. He was also asked to begin exercising for 15 minutes twice a day. After a 16 week period, the case studies health improved drastically, including both his blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
With these results in mind and a detailed analysis of all the benefits and concerns about a vegan diet, the paper concluded that the major benefits for patients who decide to start a plant-based diet are the possibility of reducing the number of medications they take to treat a variety of chronic conditions including: lower body weight, decreased risk of cancer, and decreased risk of death from ischemic heart disease. However, the paper stressed that this particular lifestyle requires planning, reading labels and discipline.
PETA UK also stresses the benefits of a vegan diet, specifically narrowing it down to seven “fantastic” benefits the diet can have for your health, some of which have already been mentioned above. They are as follows:
- Rich in nutrients such as vitamins A,C and E
- Helps to reduce risk of cancer and other diseases
- Can boost your mood
- Helps achieve an ideal body weight
- Can help prevent type 2 diabetes
- Benefits your skin
- Reduce arthritis pain.
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