The vegan diet has become more popular than ever. More and more people have become vegans, whether it be for health or ethical reasons. Though considered more healthy overall, it takes careful planning to properly sustain. Here are all the positive and negative effects a vegan diet has on your body.
Effects on Energy Levels
With the removal of processed meats comes an increase in energy levels. The fruits, vegetables, and nuts that you’re replacing the meats with will boost your mineral, vitamin, and fibre levels. You may also find that your mood improves. Some studies suggest that the increased level of antioxidants found in plant-based foods can increase brain health, while also reducing glycotoxins. These are found in meat products and cause an increase in oxidative stress and inflammation.
Effects on Bowel
A vegan diet will cause a shift in bowel function. You may find that you’ll move towards a regular, healthy pattern, or you might experience an increase in bloating, wind, and lose motions. The high fibre content causes this. Also, the increase in carbohydrates results in fermentation in the gut which can cause irritable bowel syndrome. If these symptoms occur, they usually occur in the early days.
After some more time, a vegan diet can have a positive effect on the diversity of the bacteria in the colon. This does depend on whether the said diet is made up of processed food and refined carbs or is balanced and well thought out. It’s been theorised that high species diversity in gut bacteria could be beneficial for the entire system.
Effects on Vitamin D Levels
Meat, fish, and dairy are key sources of vitamin D in an omnivorous diet. Vitamin D stores are only thought to last around 2 months in the body. After having been on a vegan diet for a little while, you may find that your vitamin D levels are dropping. The time of year that you become a vegan will also play a factor, owing to the fact the body can make vitamin D out if sunlight. So, be sure to be getting a lot of that stuff when going vegan. Also, eat plenty of fortified foods or take a supplement.
Effects on the Cardiovascular System
Cardiovascular health is likely to improve. A vegan diet is low in salt and processed foods, so it may help prevent heart disease and reduce the risk of diabetes and having a stroke. The intake of nutrients like iron, zinc and calcium will be reduced, but the body will get better at absorbing them from the intestine. This adaption on the body’s part may make up for the decency in the aforementioned nutrients, but if not, supplements should do the trick.
Being on a vegan diet will see an increase in fibre, antioxidants, and other plant phytochemicals from the fresh fruits, vegetables, and legumes that you’ll be consuming. This will put you at a lower risk of developing high blood pressure and dying from heart disease than vegetarians and omnivores. Also, overall cholesterol levels are reduced.
Effects on B12 Levels
B12 stores may become depleted on a vegan diet. This vitamin is essential for the healthy functioning of blood and nerve cells and can only be found in animal products. Being deficient in B12 can result in breathlessness, poor memory, and exhaustion. You become at risk of nerve and brain damage. Eating three portions of fortified food or taking a supplement is necessary.
Effects on the Skeleton
Our skeleton can absorb minerals up to the age of 30, being able to add them from our diet. After that, our bones stop being able to absorb minerals, so it’s important to get enough calcium when you’re young. After 30 the body must use the calcium from our skeleton for the rest of the body. Many vegans don’t meet their calcium requirements and are more at risk of fractures. Plant-based calcium is harder to absorb, so again, supplements will be needed.