Being a vegan, these are the messages which keep ringing in my ear.
"It's hard to get protein, B12, calcium, and fat on a vegan diet." "Vegans have to be extra careful..." "Vegan diets are dangerous...we absolutely need the nutrients we get from animal foods." "Meat-free diets can cause deficiencies..." "Kids may become malnourished."
So, let's clear up some of these concerns with a few checkpoints.
We always prefer to take advice from people who have experience in their field of profession. So only take advice from a doctor or nutritionist who is a successful vegan themselves. In the current conventional medical system, the doctors are more geared towards alleviating symptoms and not healing the root cause. Seek out the best medical and nutritional advice in the field from the works of Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Dr. Gabriel Cousens, David Wolfe, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn and Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Dr. Neal Barnard, Dr. Jameth Sheridan, and Dr. Michael Greger. The standard food pyramid vs. the wholefood plant-based pyramid
Very often, the conventional doctors who may have just a few hours of nutritional training as part of their study program, caution against veganism based on the standard food pyramid. With veganism, we are not talking about the standard food pyramid minus meat and dairy. A wholefood plant-based pyramid has an entirely different arrangement of food groups that provides for all of our human needs for macronutrients (carbs, protein, and fat) and micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and antioxidants). By exploring a plant-based pyramid and vegan nutrient recommendations, everyone will reap the benefits of finding micronutrients, the general public is deficient in. Chronic disease
Studies continue to show the link between chronic disease and consuming animal products. Let's look at the trajectory for kids in this country: •35% or more of the world’s adults are on pharmaceutical medication. •10% of children are overweight. •30% of girls are getting their periods by age 8. •Cancer, diabetes and heart disease are the leading causes of death. These maladies are all exacerbated, if not caused, by eating meat and dairy. The standard food pyramid has been given its chance and it has proven to be a disaster. One hundred years ago, people only became ill in the last few months of their lives. Today, the average person will experience at least a decade of disease and unnecessary suffering. For many, transitioning to a plant-based diet at a young age will be a life-saving choice. Protein
The average human being eats way too much protein than what can be easily absorbed by the body. Proteins are simply chains of amino acids, and plant proteins contain all essential amino acids. The vegan pyramid provides a healthy amount of protein with a lower biological value than animal products, which prevents IGF reactions (insulin-like growth factors that trigger cancer and tumour growth).
Protein, when cooked, is only 50 percent bioavailable. In other words, about half the amino acids (the building blocks of protein) from animal products are unusable by the body because they are destroyed by cooking. Protein is so abundant in unprocessed plant foods that its impossible to design a diet that’s deficient in protein.
Avoid high-protein diets. Proteins from meat and animal products is broken down into uric acid. Some of the uric acid that cannot be eliminated by the kidneys enters the blood stream and gets accumulated in the joints and tendons, causing redness, pain and inflammation, a condition called Gout.
Conventional nutrition will tell you that vitamin B12 can only be found in animal-products. This is factually skewed and distorted. B12 is neither an animal-based nor plant-based micronutrient, but bacteria-based. If we were all eating foods pulled straight from the ground, we would be getting sufficient amounts of B12. If people are getting B12 at all from meat, it is because the animal ate grass and stored B12 in her gut—B12 is not inherent to the flesh. But most animals are not grass-fed these days.
B12 is crucial for everyone, but the reality is that 50-90% of meat-eaters are deficient in optimum levels of B12, too! NO ONE EVER MENTIONS THAT! Get a blood test done to check your B12 levels. If it is low, supplement with a sublingual B12 (methylcobalamin) or eat Nutritional yeast and spirulina. Fat Essential fats and fatty acids are extremely important for health and vitality. Every living cell in the body needs essential fatty acids for rebuilding and producing new cells. While animal products, including fish, contain essential fatty acids in their tissues, they also contain a biological concentration of mercury and other toxic metals in their flesh. The problems associated with this are well documented.
Essential fatty acids (EFA s) have desirable effects on many disorders.
skin and hair,
reduce blood pressure,
aid in the prevention of arthritis,
lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and
reduce the risk of blood clot formation.
Heat destroys essential fatty acids. Worse, it results in the creation of dangerous free radicals. Heat destroys EFAs and turns them into poisonous breakdown products that interfere with EFA functions and create free radicals. The bottom line is: eat lots of living foods and you will never have to worry about consuming these poisonous breakdown products or this type of free radical that can be so damaging to the body. Choose excellent sources of raw, organic fats like olives, seeds, nuts, nut butters, seed butters, coconuts and avocados.
Animal products are a relatively poor source of calcium compared to leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale, and bok choy. Meat and dairy have an acidic PH, causing calcium to be leeched out of our bones into our bloodstream in order to alkalize our system. Studies are now showing that the countries with the highest intake of dairy products also have the highest rates of osteoporosis. Even more important than the amount of calcium in a food, is the amount we absorb.
Calcium from plants is more bioavailable to our bodies and comes without harmful side effects like IGF (insuline-like growth factors) that trigger growth of tumors, cancer, and cell mutations. Calcium absorbency also depends on magnesium (which meat and dairy have very little of compared to plants). Fifty to 75% of the general public is also magnesium deficient. The best sources for maintaining a healthy balance come from a plant-based diet (and lucky for us, raw cacao is one of the highest sources of magnesium on Earth!). Remember that the cow gets her calcium from eating grass. Vitamin D
Vit D deficiency isn't just a vegan problem. Many of us wake up and go to work in the dark. We work all day and return home in the dark.
First, let us establish that vitamin D is not an essential nutrient, classically defined as any substance that we must consume in our diet because we cannot make it adequately on our own. Our skin can make vitamin D from ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation in sunlight. In fact, very few foods even contain vitamin D naturally. Fish liver, mushrooms, certain types of fish and a few other foods contain some vitamin D. Cow’s milk has been artificially supplemented with vitamin D. So, you see, from a natural perspective this shouldn’t even be a nutritional issue at all. Yet we often do consider this a nutritional issue because if you don’t get enough from sun exposure, you can eat vitamin D and absorb it through your gastrointestinal tract.
Vitamin D has recently become scientifically popular because vitamin D deficiency has been linked to cancers, multiple sclerosis, frailty, falls, and many other ailments. Yet for all the interest, there have not been consistent results that show that supplementing with vitamin D in a pill actually does anything useful for chronic diseases. Vitamin D has been shown in some studies to slightly reduce the risk of falls, especially in deficient elderly people.
Getting enough vitamin D from the sun is easy to do in the spring, summer, and fall, no matter how far north or south you live. Factors that make a difference in how much vitamin D you make include skin colour (the darker your skin colour the less you make), time of day, length of day, and skin covering, including sunblock. If you have exposure to the midday sun (between 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.) for 5-30 minutes twice a week on the arms and legs, you would get sufficient vitamin D. For pale skin, you might need as little as five minutes, and for dark skin you might require at least 30 minutes. It’s important to note that you can make vitamin D even on cloudy days. Windows block UVB radiation but not all of the ‘tanning’ radiation, UVA, so you won’t make any vitamin D driving in a car unless the windows are down.
Sunblock of any SPF, strong enough to stop a sunburn, will stop almost entirely all vitamin D synthesis on the skin to which it is applied.
Severe vitamin D deficiency causes rickets and osteomalacia, which are problems with bone mineralization resulting from inadequate calcium and phosphorus. Vitamin D helps with calcium absorption in the intestine. Very low vitamin D causes very low calcium absorption, which triggers other changes including low phosphorus and hormone system changes.
Encourage yourself to get as much outdoor time as possible while strictly avoiding any sunburn, along with weight bearing exercise for good bone health. The idea is to have fun and stay active and fit while keeping your vitamin D levels sufficient. It is advisable to get a yearly blood test done to check Vitamin D levels. Check out the dminder app on Google play store. This gives you exact timings for our body’s Vitamin D production and UV levels for your city/country.