Wednesday, September 20, 2017
 

Is raw vegan diet such a healthy choice? (Part II)

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Author: Crys 

Read more about the vegan diet here: Raw vegan diet – does it work for everyone? (Part I)

After an extended period of research regarding the raw vegan diet, I found a couple of honest vegan advocates, talking about the potential nutritional shortfalls and also the dietary recommendations for an optimal health.

But, before I go any further with the facts, I would like to take you briefly to a classification of all sorts of strange vegetarian terms, categories, sub-categories, and the like.
I had no idea that such a wide variety of diets existed, based on almost every kind of food, but meat. You might wonder why is it so relevant for our facts, if they all are meatless, right?

Well, to them it is very important to make the right distinction between those categories and sub-categories and to not mix them up like we – the rest of the population – might.

After digging as much as I could into medical literature and getting the most accurate data, what matters to me is to find out who is taking the key nutrients in order to maintain the optimal overall health.

Let’s have a look at the following categories:

1. Semi-Vegetarian.

Semi-vegetarians like to call themselves “Not That Strict”, and are the ones who only eat meat occasionally or not at all, but whose staple diet includes poultry and fish once in a while.

2. Vegetarian.

Unlike semi-vegetarians, vegetarians are very strict when it comes to meat; they don’t eat any type of meat, such as beef, poultry, pork, fish or seafood. But they do consume eggs, cheese, milk, yogurt, or similar, which means they do take some protein, vitamins and fatty acids that are essential for an optimal health in the long run.

Let’s examine this category in more detail and here are the sub-categories:

Ovo-Lacto-Vegetarian.

Ovo-lacto-vegetarians are the ones who do not consume any kind of meat, but they do consume eggs and milk.

Ovo-Vegetarian.

It might sound funny to you, but those ones like to call themselves “almost vegan” – they consume only eggs from the animal protein products.

Lacto-Vegatarian.

It’s the same story with the ones from above – “almost vegan” – except the fact that they consume milk. A vegetarian lifestyle tends unfortunately to lead people to a vegan diet after some years of adopting it.

3. Vegan.

Being vegan is not only about the food they chose to eat, but it’s got a totally different lifestyle. Vegans don’t eat any kind of animal protein products. Some of them go even as far as not consuming honey and yeast, and some others choose to not wear any clothing made from animal by-products such as leather and wool. Therefore, their diet consists of vegetables and fruits, grains and legumes, sprouts, nuts and nut pastes, seeds, plant oils, sea vegetables, herbs, fresh juices, smoothies, fermented foods and soy –based products.

4. Raw Vegan (called also “Raw Foods”, “Living Foods”, “Plant-Based Diet”, etc.).

Raw Vegans’ style of eating consists of only raw foods, mainly fruits and vegetables, or food that is not heated above 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 degrees Celsius).

Bottom Line: Bottom Line: Veganism has gained popularity today among teenagers, especially young girls. Why young girls? I have met lots of those girls (some of them not that young though) dealing with hunger on a regular basis for the skinny look’s sake, as vegans tend usually to be thinner.

Now that I clarified all the terms and classification as briefly as I could (it’s not my fault that are so many, let’s take you to the most important part of this topic.

Before I do so, I would once again like to mention that I do not have anything against the diets mentioned above; everyone is free to choose their own journey to a better and healthier life. However, due to their foods habits and choices, Vegans tend to be lower in calories intake (which makes them thinner), proteins, saturated fat and cholesterol, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, calcium, zinc and vitamins B12 and K2 – most of the key nutrients.

Potential nutritional shortfalls

1. Protein. I hope you no longer believe that myth and misconception about protein – “good only for building muscle mass”. Proteins are essential for maintaining the muscle and bone mass, for keeping the immune system strong and for preventing fatigue. So make sure if you want to go vegan that you get enough of high lysine foods each day such as: Legumes include soybeans and their products (tempeh, tofu, soy milk, soy meats, etc.), beans (garbanzo, kidney, pinto, etc.) and their products (falafel, hummus, refried, etc.), peas (green, split, black-eyed, etc.), lentils and peanuts. Spirulina contains all essential amino acids for the body, with up to 60 per cent protein. Hemp seeds contain 16 g of protein per cup and consists of the perfect ratio (3/1) of omega-6 to omega-3. Quinoa contains 11 g of protein per cup.

Bottom line: Make sure to get enough of all the indispensable amino acids each day, especially if you exercise intensively.

2. Vitamin B12 is a complicated vitamin with a unique absorption mechanism. Vitamin B12 is mainly found in all animal foods, apart from honey. Contrary to many rumors, there are no reliable dietary sources of B12 for vegans. Compared with lacto-vegetarians and omnivores, vegans have much higher rates of deficiency of vitamin B12 that protects the nervous system. In extreme cases, permanent damage can result (for instance blindness, deafness, dementia), but fatigue, and tingling in the hands or feet, can be early signs of deficiency. In addition, children may experience apathy and failure to thrive.

Bottom line: B12 fortified foods or supplements are necessary for the optimal health of vegans, and even vegetarians in many cases, especially if you are avoiding processed vegan foods (which are often fortified with vitamin B12).

3. Omega-3 fatty acids
Diets that don’t contain of fish, eggs and sea vegetables (seaweeds) generally lack the long chain n-3 fatty acids, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which are very important for cardiovascular health, eye and brain functions. The best and healthiest way to increase DHA your omega-3 intake is to eat salmon and seafood once or twice per week.

Bottom line: It has been recommended by the honest vegan advocates to take an algae-based vegan DHA supplement and also ground chia seeds, hemp seeds, or flax seeds (always raw and not heat-treated, because their fats are extremely unstable – this is particularly important if you are pregnant or breast-feeding), but go ahead and get it checked, to be certain.

4. Calcium and vitamin D
Unless you are extremely lucky to stay all day long in the sun (with measure and while wearing sunscreen with an adequate SPF, of course), there is a big chance you might be deficient of vitamin D, which is vital for a large variety of functions – such as helping you to absorb calcium, or fighting back some forms of cancer – and goes hand in hand with vitamins K2 and A to keep your teeth and bones strong.

Bottom line: Because there are lots of people reacting negatively to vitamin D supplements, I would recommend to consult your doctor and find out which one (vitamin D2 or D3) fits your needs best.

5. Vitamin K2. According to a European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) the increased intake of vitamin K2 may reduce the risk of prostate cancer by 35 per cent. Unfortunately, many people don’t have a clue of the health benefits of vitamin K2, such as protecting us from heart disease, keeping a healthy skin, forming strong bones, promoting brain function, supporting growth and development and helping to prevent cancer.
Unlike vitamin K1, which can be found in dark leafy greens, vitamin K2 is only found in certain bacteria and animal protein products such as dairy (hard cheese, soft cheese, butter), egg yolk, chicken breast and organ meats.

Bottom line: Just pay a visit to a nutritionist or any doctor in order to identify a good source of vitamin K2 if you are planning to become vegan.

6. Iron

Heme iron absorption, the one found in animal products is substantially higher than the non-heme iron from plant foods. If you are a vegan, you should be consuming large amounts of vitamin C-rich foods (such as tomatoes, bell peppers, lemon juice, oranges, grapefruits, strawberries, kiwis, etc.), which improve the absorption of the non-heme iron.

Bottom line: According to the honest vegans advocates, you should eat high-vitamin-C foods along with iron-rich foods to enhance iron absorption.

7. Zinc
Vegetarians are often considered to be at risk of zinc deficiency. Due to the high phytate content of a typical vegan diet, it is very important that vegans consume foods that are rich in zinc, such as whole grains, legumes, and soy products, to provide a sufficient zinc intake.

Bottom line: My advice to you is that “before getting yourself into a long run destructive process, pay a visit to your doctor in order to understand not only the benefits but also all the risks associated to the vegan diet”.

I strongly believe that if you are a hard working person, living a hectic life like the most of us, and don’t have enough time to plan and prepare your meals ahead of time as the educated vegans do it in order to get all the healthy nutrients on a regular basis, you should reconsider it and start by reading once again this article – see if you take something away from this page.

So, with the risk to repeat myself, if you decide to adopt this diet – regardless of what your reasons may be – make sure to consider the following:

- You don’t rely only on supplements (you might not see any damage at first, because this is a long term destructive process).
– Make sure you eat real foods rather than synthetic food alternatives advertised even sometimes by the “specialists”(the ones who practice marketing rather the medicine).
– Keep in mind that we don’t absorb and convert everything we eat for a wide variety of reasons, such as your current medical condition, your health history, etc. and, therefore, is highly recommend that you should first check your health status. (Sorry, but I have to send you back to the core idea of this article – go and see a nutritionist – not a vegan though!
– Changing your diet and your lifestyle can be very positive things – if done correctly, carefully and in an informed manner. Talk to your doctor or go and see a nutritionist. Don’t make radical changes all of a sudden which may throw you out of balance.

Altogether, I believe that human beings are so different genetically that one person’s success diet does not guarantee your own.
I simply look at myself (I think I have already said it at some point) that, even though I am a big fan of fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, legumes all kind, fish and seafood, my body doesn’t work at its best without other animal protein products (lean meat, different kinds of cheese, eggs, yogurt or kefir).

If you liked my points altogether, and happen to know someone who recently has decided to go vegan, please spread the word!

Stay healthy and tune in for the other related topics!

Supporting Research
1. The American College of Nutrition
2. US National Library of Medicine national Institutes of Health
3. Vegan Health by Jack Norris

 

 

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  • Great article, really valuable information.

     
     
     
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