Is It Healthy to Follow a Vegan Diet?
Recently, the vegan diet has become very popular. For ethical reasons, many people have decided to stop consuming animal products. Of course, due to their restrictive nature, this kind of diet can have certain consequences for your health. Here, we’ll tell you what nutrients it lacks, and if it’s healthy to follow this type of diet.
The vegan diet and being overweight
Studies show that scientists support using a vegan diet to improve body composition in overweight or obese people. The main reason for is its success is that eating more vegetables and fresh products decreases the caloric density of the diet. Therefore, it’s not hard to get enough energy and lose weight.
Maintaining adequate body weight is clearly helpful to protect against many complex diseases. The risk of diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancer goes down under normal weight conditions.
For this reason, the vegan diet is a part of a healthy diet. In addition, consuming lots of plant products helps you get more antioxidants. In fact, this helps prevent diseases and overall help your body function.
Deficits of this type of diet
However, all that glitters isn’t gold. This diet, due to its restrictive nature, is deficient in certain nutrients. For example, it doesn’t have enough vitamin B12, vitamin D or iron. In addition, you also need to make sure that you get enough protein.
In these circumstances, specialists usually recommend taking some sort of supplement if you follow a vegan diet. By taking vitamin B12 and iron supplements, you can prevent anemia. With vitamin D, you prevent bone density problems, and with protein, you won’t lose muscle mass.
It’s important that the vegan diet is balanced in terms of micro and macronutrients. For this, it’s good to know about limiting essential amino acids in each plant-based food group, so you can combine them. With this in mind, it’s always a good idea to go to the doctor or talk to a nutritionist.
Contribution of fiber in a vegan diet
Another positive point of consuming only vegetables is the high amounts of fiber they have. Products from the plant-based group are great sources of fiber. In turn, this means a decreased risk of colon cancer, as this study shows.
As if this weren’t enough, eating fiber regularly stimulates growth of certain microbiota. In fact, the organisms in your gut have important health implications.
However, supplements with probiotics and prebiotics can also help improve your intestinal microbiota. One problem of the vegan diet is that it doesn’t contain fermented dairy.
Not having this food group means that you don’t consume a lot of living organisms that help your digestive tract. Regardless, you can help this by simply taking a probiotic every day.
The vegan diet and athletes
It’s possible to follow a vegan diet and still train as normal. However, if you’re an athlete, supplementation becomes even more important.
Athletes tend to have higher protein requirements, which a plant-based diet might not meet. Fortunately, there are vegan-friendly protein supplements on the market that can meet these needs, which prevents muscle wasting.
Also, there are elite vegan athletes in lots of different disciplines, which shows that this type of diet is compatible with high-performance sports. However, it requires in-depth nutritional knowledge, especially to maximize the impact of diet on recovery periods after intense exercise.
The vegan diet can be beneficial for health as long as it’s a well-structured and balanced diet. Once you take care of any deficiencies, it can prevent the appearance of complex diseases and improve body composition.
Even in high performance sports, it’s possible to carry out this type of diet. Therefore, health might be a reason to start eating a diet free of animal products.It might interest you...
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Dinu M., Abbate R., Gensini GF., Casini A., Sofi F., Vegetarian, vegan diets and multiple health outcomes: a systematic review with meta-analysis of observational studies. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutri, 2017. 57 (17): 3640-3649.
- Glick-Bauer M., Yeh MC., The health advantage of a vegan diet: exploring the gut microbiota connection. Nutrients, 2014. 6 (11): 4822-38.