If you think a vegan diet automatically equals a healthy diet, think again!
True it can be packed with veggies, but if youve ever met the vegan with a Diet Coke in one hand and a chocolate brownie (sans the eggs and butter, of course) in the other, you know it can be a thoroughly unhealthy diet.
A vegan diet, by definition, excludes all animal products. No animal flesh. No milk from cows, goats, sheep or other mammals. No eggs. Not even honey. Whats left can vary tremendously from one vegan to the next.
Often people do choose to adhere to a vegan diet for health reasons, but others want to eat lower on the food chain out of respect for animals or to minimize their carbon footprint and help protect the environment.(1)
Thanks to the Seventh Day Adventists and the epidemiologists who studied them, we now have compelling evidence that a vegan diet can be healthier than one that includes meat and fish. Many Seventh Day Adventists follow their churchs doctrine that recommends a vegetarian diet. The researchers found that, compared to non-vegetarians, vegetarians (including vegans and lacto-ovovegetarians) were much less likely to get colon cancer or prostatecancer, or to die from cardiovascular disease or breast cancer.
Among men,lacto-ovo vegetarians (they eat dairy and eggs) were 15% less likely to die from any cause compared with non-vegetarians, and there seemed to be some added benefit to being vegan, as this group was 18% less likely to die from any cause versus the non-vegetarians.(2)
Other studies have looked at the gut microbiota (ie, the bacteria in our stool) in people with different diets and have found that the microbiome in those who eat meat differs from vegetarians, and further differs from that in vegans. Research indicates that the vegan gut has fewer inflammatory bacteria, and more species that protect against inflammation, obesity and type 2 diabetes.(3)
A number of smaller studies reveal additional benefits of the vegan diet, such as one where sedentary people on a raw vegan diet appear to be as heart healthy as the non-vegetarian endurance runners(4). Another research study found that a vegan diet along with support groups and lifestyle changes helped men with prostate cancer control the disease.(5)
But there is such variety in the vegan diets studied and associated interventions that it is hard to make generalizations.
There are strong theoretical reasons to think that there is value in consuming a vegan diet.
For example, the ratio of omega-6:omega-3 fatty acids is ideally no higher than 4:1, but a review article found that, on average, the ratio was 7.65:1 for grain-fed beef and 1.53:1 for grass-fed beef.(6) A study of chickens fed cereal-based feed also had lower omega-3 fatty acid levels compared with the birds given access to pasture.(7)
Diets high in animal protein have been associated with numerous chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and possibly osteoporosis, cancer and overall mortality.(8-12)
Ninety percent of human ingestion of dioxins occurs through animal food. These contaminants increase risk for cancer and developmental, immunologic, and endocrine toxicity.(13) Mercury, another toxin prevalent in our oceans, accumulates in many fish, and can be harmful to our nervous, digestive and immune systems, lungs and kidneys.(14)
One benefit of animal protein is that unlike plant-based protein, animal protein is a complete protein, meaning you get adequate amounts of all the essential amino acids your body cannot make on its own when you eat it.
Vegans have to work harder to consume adequate amounts of complete protein because plant-based proteins are almost all low in one to three essential amino acids. However, any combination of two types of vegan protein in a day (eg, legumes and seeds, or legumes and whole grains, or nuts and seeds, or whole grains and nuts) provides the necessary combination of essential amino acids.(15)
One pitfall to look out for is vegan protein powders. Most powders are not optimized with branch-chain amino acids, and therefore are not highly bioavailable and not a great source of protein. This is why Parsley Healths professional-grade pea-and-rice based Rebuild protein powder is superior to most powders it has been optimized with the addition of the amino acids like leucine required to make it a complete protein.
Another common argument for consuming animal products particularly dairy is calcium. However, on review of studies of dairy and bone strength, the totality of evidence does not point to dairy as necessary. Vegans can get plenty of calcium from their diet without supplements by consuming dark green vegetables and nuts or seeds daily.
Especially good foods are collard greens, kale, almonds and sunflower seeds. Not only that, but they dont need as much calcium as meat-eaters. Thats because animal flesh is acidic, forcing calcium stored in the body (eg, in bones) to be drawn into the bloodstream to buffer the acid.
There are a few nutrients that you do need to pay attention to if you want to try a vegan diet safely.
The first one is vitamin B12. Unless you are eating some really buggy lettuce (which one might argue would make you less than vegan), there is no way to get sufficient B12 as a vegan and it is important to take a supplement, such as our vegan Rebuild protein powder which contains a complete multivitamin.
Iron is also worth consideration, in particular for menstruating women. Although there are many plant-based sources of iron, it is harder for the body to absorb vegan-sources of iron than animal-based sources, so supplementation might be needed.
Next, Omega-3 fatty acids are abundant in certain plant-based foods, like flax, walnuts, chia and hemp seeds. However, our bodies are only able to convert small amounts of plant-based omega-3s into the most beneficial forms our bodies need DHA and EPA. Incomparison, it is much easier to absorb DHA and EPA directly from fish and pasture-raised eggs and meat.
Finally, there is almost no vitamin D in a vegan diet, and most of us (vegan or not) are Vitamin D deficient as we dont get a lot of sun exposure. The better supplemental form of vitamin D is D3, rather than D2. Though D3 frequently comes from animal sources (eg, lanolin from sheeps wool or fish oil) there is a plant-derived D3 from lichen.We recommend routine testing for all vegans and vegetarians to ensure they are getting adequate nutritional support.
On countless occasions I have identified B12, iron and Vitamin D deficiency in my vegan patients which we were easily able to correct with the right supplements, allowing them to safely stay with their vegan diet.
Diets impact more than our bodies, they can impact our mental health powerfully. For example, I had a 52-year-old patient who started a vegan diet high in veggies and without refined grains or sugar. As a result, her bipolar disorder was the best controlled it had ever been, allowing her to finally feel well, mentally and physically, on her medication.
I had another 62-year-old patient who had a cardiac stent placed for a clogged artery and chest pain. Despite the stent and no evidence of any more clogged vessels, the chest pain persisted, but a few months after he started a vegan diet, his chest pain resolved. Dean Ornish, MD, did pioneer work in this area, showing that a vegetarian diet (low-fat, no sugar in this study), along with exercise, stress management, and psychosocial support could successfully reduce angina symptoms and reverse the accumulation of plaque in peoples arteries.(16)
In her book, Radical Remission, Kelly Turner, PhD, wrote about people with cancer who used only alternative means to recover from cancer, and for some, this involved adhering to a plant-based diet high in vegetables and no sugar, meat, dairy and refined foods.(17)
People are unique in terms of what makes them feel well and their comfort with different dietary plans. If you are interested in seeing what effect a vegan diet has on you, do it with the guidance of someone who has experience finding vegan foods that are healthy, satisfying and filled with a sufficient variety of nutrients.
Notice how you feel after 3 weeks on it. Check immune markers such as your white blood cell count and high sensitivity c-reactive protein, as well as cholesterol, to see what impact it has on these markers for some people the positive effects are astounding.
The ideal vegan diet consists of whole foods, lots of vegetables, and nearly zero refined grains and sweets. If you want to try it, just be sure to plan ahead before making this transition, so you dont end up reaching for that vegan chocolate brownie instead of a handful of walnuts when youre hankering for a snack, and keep in mind which nutrients you might need to supplement.
If done this way it can potentially decrease your risk for chronic diseases, such as heart disease and some cancers.
Need to get started with a few delicious vegan recipes? Start your day off by making our Pumpkin Pie Smoothie,check out our Simple Plant-Powered Meals for lunch and dinner ideas or whip up a batch of ourPeanut Butter Energy Balls for the perfect snack!
- Question about keto and metformin? MyFitnessPal.com - October 4th, 2019
- A Ketogenic Diet for Beginners The Ultimate Keto Guide ... - October 2nd, 2019
- Weight Loss, Loss weight fast, Diet Safely - Part 5 - September 12th, 2019
- Diabetes diet: Create your healthy-eating plan - Mayo Clinic - September 12th, 2019
- How Long Can Your Body Stay in Ketosis Safely? - September 12th, 2019
- How to diet - NHS - September 7th, 2019
- The Mayo Clinic Diet: A weight-loss program for life ... - September 6th, 2019
- The truth behind the most popular diet trends of the ... - July 27th, 2019
- Is the ketogenic diet safe for diabetics? ( ... - July 25th, 2019
- Ketosis for Seniors: What Should You Know? - Perfect Keto - July 22nd, 2019
- Is the Keto Diet Safe? How to Avoid Common Issues - June 21st, 2019
- drbdiet.com - Bernstein Diet & Health Clinics - May 21st, 2019
- What Is the Keto Diet (and Should You Try It)? Health ... - May 21st, 2019
- Calcium: An Important Mineral For Women - Women's Health - May 21st, 2019
- Beyonce Diet aka The Master Cleanse or Lemonade Diet - May 16th, 2019
- What should I feed my backyard chickens? RSPCA Knowledgebase - May 16th, 2019
- Eating a Plant-Based Diet: Safely Going Vegan | Nerd Fitness - April 25th, 2019
- Is the Ketogenic Diet Safe Long Term? Potential Dangers to ... - March 31st, 2019
- Weight loss: Choosing a diet that's right for you - Mayo ... - March 30th, 2019
- Ketogenic Diet Benefits (& How to Do It Right) | Wellness Mama - March 12th, 2019
- Are low carb diets safe to follow? | All Natural Ideas - March 12th, 2019
- Find Out How to Diet Safely - Food Without Fire - March 9th, 2019
- Keto Diet for Women: Food List & Tips to Overcome Side ... - March 8th, 2019
- 11 Fruits can you Eat Safely in a Ketogenic Diet - Cool ... - March 7th, 2019
- HCG Diet | HCG Drops | HCG Diet Information | Your HCG - March 6th, 2019
- All About Cat Diets How and Why to Put Your Cat on a ... - February 12th, 2019
- Foods You Can Safely Eat Past The Due Dates | ActiveBeat - January 28th, 2019
- Is The Ketogenic Diet Safe for People with Diabetes? - Dr ... - December 20th, 2018
- Is the Keto Diet Safe? 4 Potential Dangers to Be Aware Of ... - December 19th, 2018
- Is the Keto Diet Really Safe? - thedailymeal.com - December 19th, 2018
- Ketogenic diet: Is the ultimate low-carb diet good for you ... - October 31st, 2018
- Keto Diet Beginners Guide: Understanding the Ketogenic Diet - October 2nd, 2018
- Is the Keto diet Safe? 10 Myth-Busting Arguments for the ... - August 8th, 2018
- Diet - Safety Talk Ideas - August 6th, 2018
- The Carnivore Diet: Can Eating Only Meat Supercharge Your ... - August 1st, 2018
- Diet and Weight Loss Safety Tips (UPDATE: Jul 2018) | 2 ... - July 26th, 2018
- What Is the Keto Diet, and Is It Safe? - May 24th, 2018
- How to Safely and Effectively Come Off the Keto Diet ... - May 7th, 2018
- Care Guide: Diet - April 2nd, 2018
- Eat Wheat: A Scientific and Clinically-Proven Approach to ... - March 16th, 2018
- Can Probiotics Make It Safely To Your Intestines? - February 19th, 2018
- How to safely and healthily use supplements in your diet ... - February 17th, 2018
- Liquid Diet: Facts About Plans and Effectiveness - February 17th, 2018
- 11 Low Carb Vegetables That You Can Safely Eat on the ... - February 7th, 2018
- Is the Ketogenic Diet Safe for Everyone? - Diagnosis:Diet - January 20th, 2018
- Best Weight Loss Pills For Women Reviewed - Top 8 Best ... - December 25th, 2017
- Safe Diets and Healthful Weight Loss - healthline.com - November 6th, 2017
- Can I diet while breastfeeding? KellyMom.com - October 15th, 2017
- How to Use Diet Pills Safely: 12 Steps (with Pictures ... - October 13th, 2017
- How to Lose Weight Quickly and Safely (for Teen Girls) - October 13th, 2017
- Chinese red viagra sildenafil citrate - Viagra and red bull safe - Red ant viagra review - Black Hills Today - September 6th, 2017
- The What IF Plan: all you need to know about the new DNA weight loss programme - Evening Standard - September 6th, 2017
- Coca-Cola Offering $1 Million for Natural Sugar Substitute - Newsmax - September 6th, 2017
- 'Global event' in Ames this fall to focus on digital literacy - Radio Iowa - September 6th, 2017
- All the Apps and Websites You Need When You Have a Kid With Food Allergies - Lifehacker Australia - September 6th, 2017
- Cheap female viagra pills - Name of female viagra tablet - Twin Cities Arts Reader - September 4th, 2017
- 'Diet guidelines biased against poor nations' - The News International - September 4th, 2017
- World-renowned Alzheimer's expert takes state fair stage - KARE - September 4th, 2017
- 10 new nutrients you should be eating right away - DailyO - September 4th, 2017
- Why West's low-fat diet advice could be deadly for Asia's poor, because they'll likely eat even more carbs - South China Morning Post - September 2nd, 2017
- Battling the deerfly - Stowe Today - September 2nd, 2017
- Levitra professional mail order - Levitra professional pills - Laughlin Entertainer - September 2nd, 2017
- A Bountiful Assortment - PetProductNews.com - September 2nd, 2017
- Don't talk about diets in front of your daughters, deputy head at top London school warns parents - Evening Standard - September 1st, 2017
- Diet guidelines biased against poor nations: study - Capital FM Kenya (press release) (blog) - September 1st, 2017
- Sponsor spotlight: Harbor Square Athletic Club Healthy Lifestyle Tip good protein sources - My Edmonds News - September 1st, 2017
- Viagra soft tabs uk buy - Viagra soft tab generic - Forward Florida - September 1st, 2017
- The Most Weight You Can Safely Lose In A Month By Only ... - August 30th, 2017
- Diet guidelines 'biased against poor nations' - New Vision - August 30th, 2017
- Nutrition: Tips to a healthful State Fair - Duluth News Tribune - August 30th, 2017
- How does a high-salt diet affect your body? - Reports Healthcare - August 30th, 2017
- Healthcare Startup Claims It Can Defeat Diabetes With Nutrition Alone - Futurism - August 30th, 2017
- Buy kamagra soft usa - Forward Florida - August 30th, 2017
- Diet guidelines biased against poor nations: study - Geo News, Pakistan - August 29th, 2017
- Men who get fit in middle age can halve their risk of strokes - Telegraph.co.uk - August 29th, 2017
- Can you really lose your belly fat with just 15 minutes of HIIT a day? Yes. - Metro - August 29th, 2017
- Viagra capsule in hindi - Viagra capsules price in india - Laughlin Entertainer - August 27th, 2017
- Extension Connection: Petscaping Your Yard - Canton Daily Ledger - August 27th, 2017
- Ketogenic diet loved for fast results, but does it work? - Gears Of Biz - August 27th, 2017
- The case for complete streets - Prince Rupert Northern View - August 27th, 2017