Nutritionist Karishma Shah on how vegan, plant-based diets can improve mental health

Veganism also reduces the risk of cancer as it possesses a bevvy of potential nutrients, which can diminish the risk of certain types of cancer, including breast cancer.
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“Veganism and plant-based food contain tryptophan, which helps in boosting serotonin levels in the brain that significantly reduces the feeling of anxiety,” says Mumbai-based Karishma Shah, Integrative Health Nutritionist and Holistic Life Coach. A strong advocate for veganism, Karishma has been promoting a vegan lifestyle for five years now. 

She follows a fully vegan and a 90 percent plant-based diet and advises a plant-based diet to her clients as well. 

“After coming across the fact that eating plant-based can prevent a tremendous amount of environmental exploitation and animal slaughter, I discovered a strong sense of emotions towards veganism, and I took a path of educating people around the globe,” Karishma tells YS Weekender.

Benefits of veganism

Other than improving mental health, Karishma says veganism helps in weight loss as “it is wholly packed with fibre that helps you fill up without adding extra calories.” 

Veganism also reduces the risk of cancer as it possesses a bevvy of potential nutrients, which can diminish the risk of certain types of cancer, including breast cancer. 

“Plant-based food consists of thousands of phytochemicals, which are known to terminate the growth of tumours and alleviate the production of cancer-related hormones,” she adds. 

Karishma adapted to veganism for its environmental benefits as well. “After coming across the fact that vegan lifestyle prevents a tremendous amount of environmental exploitation, animal slaughter, and suffering, I discovered a strong sense of emotions towards veganism, and I took a path of educating people around the globe.”

She claims cutting down on meat lessens a person's carbon footprint by up to 79 percent.

With over two years of living in a pandemic, in a constant state of working from home, people hardly exercised or visited gyms. Here are five tips for maintaining a healthier lifestyle while at home. 

  1. Fixing mental health should be our top priority amidst this pandemic. Practising meditation will help you cope with your overwhelming emotions. Cutting back on caffeine will also help as it aggravates the symptoms of panic disorder and anxiety. 
  2. Exercise or yoga will help you shed all your extra kilos and will reinforce a good body, along with concrete immunity, which is required to fight any pathogens present in the environment. 
  3. Nourishing vegan meals — those rich in vegetables and fruits, lean proteins, and whole grains — will help keep your mind and body wholesome during stressful times. 
  4. Quit smoking and alcohol consumption immediately to protect yourself from the ill effects of the virus. To cope with withdrawal symptoms, try taking nicotine/alcohol replacement therapies. 
  5. Practice Chakra balancing and consuming holistic nutrition. It will take you to your natural state and optimise your health and mind. 

Since mental health has become a huge part of our overall wellbeing, and the discourse around it has become mainstream, especially amidst COVID-19, Karishma suggests focusing on building resilience by adopting “healthy eating” and “practising mindfulness”. 

“A plant-based diet is rich in potassium, magnesium, folate, and vitamins A, C, and E, which boost serotonin and dopamine levels. People should also adopt mindfulness exercises, which call for nothing but your attention towards your mind and body. These exercises will help you curb stress and clear your anxiety just by making you come back to your breath. It’s a divine place where you can rest and settle your mind,” she says.  

Finally, Karishma believes that eco-conscious diets are born from the idea that the health of each person is associated with the health of the environment.

Edited by Suman Singh

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