Is Your Vegan Diet Providing You with Optimal Nutrition?
There are many misconceptions when it comes to the vegan lifestyle.
A vegan diet is quite healthy. There’s no question that eating a rainbow of fruit and veggies can provide you with a huge nutrient boost. There’s one small catch, though. Humans were designed to be omnivores. We’ve got molars to crush plant matter, and canines to rip through the meat.
Our bodies require nutrients from both meat and veggies to remain healthy. There are some nutrients that you simply can’t get from vegetables. In some cases, the nutrients are present, but just in a less bioavailable form.
Take Omega-3 fatty acids, for example. It’s abundantly available in both fish and flaxseeds. Unfortunately, the form it takes in flaxseeds is more difficult for our bodies to digest.
Is it Better to Ditch Veganism Then?
We didn’t say that. By following a vegan diet, you reduce your chance of developing adult onset diabetes by 23% and lower your chance of dying from a heart attack by 32%. It’s also easier to lose excess weight and maintain a healthy body weight with a vegan diet.
Aside from the health benefits, there are important environmental benefits as well. Emissions by animals bred for their meat are a significant contributor to greenhouse gasses and global warming.
And while it’s possible to raise your own meat, you need a lot of space to do so. From there, you’ve got to arrange to have the animal slaughtered and then cooked. With the square foot gardening method, you can plant enough veggies to feed a family of four in a space no bigger than a door. You can also grow some veggies in containers on a balcony or even in a bright sunny window.
What About the Nutrients that We’re Missing Out On?
This is a problem that’s pretty simple to overcome. It just means that you’ll have to plan things out better. You’ll need to get to know the nutrient content of your food better. You’ll also have to take supplements for those essential nutrients that your body can’t make itself.
What Supplements Should I Take?
Surprisingly, the list only boils down to seven essentials:
Vitamin B12: This may come as a surprise. We’re usually told that we can supplement Brewer’s Yeast to get a dose of Vitamin B. Yeast contains many B vitamins. Unfortunately, though, Vitamin B12 is not one of them.
Creatine: Creatine is a substance that your liver can produce. Unfortunately, the typical vegan diet is low in the compounds that the liver needs to make creatine. A supplement here is a good idea – it helps with muscle tone and energy.
Carnosine: Again, this is a substance that your body can produce itself. However, the primary sources of the compounds that the body needs to create Carnosine are also non-vegan sources.
Vitamin D3: You don’t need to get Vitamin D3 from your diet. As long as you have at least 15 minutes of exposure to the sun when it’s at its highest, you should get enough of this vitamin. You’ll need to ensure that your arms and legs are exposed and without sunscreen.
The other three compounds are:
- Heme Iron
Making Sure You Stay Healthy
Speak to almost anyone who’s followed a vegan diet for years and they’ll tell you that they feel better and have more energy. There are some challenges when it comes to this type of lifestyle. Here are some tips to help you get it right from day one:
- Choose high-quality supplements: Cheap vitamin supplements are cheap because they contain more binders. They may contain the nutrients that you need, but these will often be in a format that’s less bioavailable.
- Choose fruit and vegetables as close to nature as possible: The more processed your food, the fewer nutrients it’ll have. Look into tasty ways to prepare raw food as far as possible.
- Eat the freshest produce possible: Ideally speaking, you should harvest your own veggies. If that’s not possible, consider shopping at a farmer’s market to get fresh fruit and veggies. Also, consider keeping stocked up on frozen veggies. These have better nutrient content than fresh vegetables that have been transported long distances.
Following a vegan diet has its challenges. But the same is true of most specialized diets. Once you’ve worked out the basics, though, get ready for tons of energy and great health.