Today I'm responding to viewer's question about why some people, who have been eating a plant-based diet, feel better when they start to include animal products back into their diet.
I’m going to go through some of my ideas of why this is and some general advice on what you can do if you find yourself not feeling so good, and you’re wondering if there is a way to solve these issues on a vegan diet, or if you should maybe experiment with adding some animal products back in.
Here is a YouTube video I made on this topic if you would prefer to watch instead of read. The video is split into two parts:
There seem to be 2 main issues that I’ve noticed people speak about in their stories. One being symptoms to do with nutrient deficiencies and two being digestive issues. These are the common ones that many people seem to experience.
Starting with nutrient deficiencies, this can happen on basically any diet because most people don’t know a lot about nutrients, and how much they need, and what foods they can get it from. Not only that but are these nutrients absorbable? Do you have genetic limitations in the way your body converts plant-based nutrients into active forms?
I just put out a video on Vitamin A recently and something pretty interesting I learned is that 45% of people lack the ability to convert Provitamin A from plants into the retinoids our body can use.
And if this is the case for you, if you have these genetic limitation, you can become deficient in Vitamin A even if you’re consuming a lot of provitamin A from plants. And this goes for a lot of different nutrients.
There are some key differences in plant based and animal based iron, folic acid, vitamin K, omega 3 fatty acids, and many more. So although it may seem like you’re meeting needs, maybe you’re not getting enough of the absorbable and bioactive forms.
This can present itself as skin issues, getting sick with colds and flus all the time, having brain fog and trouble thinking, feeling extremely cold and tired, being constipated, your hair could be falling out, you could be dealing with a lot anxiety or depression. It’s not like these issues are caused by a vegan diet, they’re caused by nutrient deficiencies.
So when these people are struggling with health issues, and they decide to try some animal products and they start to feel better, sometimes immediately, like within minutes of eating of eggs or steak or fish for example, this is telling me that they probably have not been getting enough nutrition in the right form for their body and when they do finally get those nutrients a lot of their issues start to clear up.
I definitely think it’s possible for many people correct nutrient deficiencies on a vegan diet with proper nutrition and supplements, but I do think now that it’s not gonna work for everyone, because of these genetic differences.
If you’ve been eating nutrient rich plant foods and taking the right supplements and those things aren’t working after months and months, you maybe want to consider bringing in some animal based foods. Despite your best intentions, you could be working against body and what’s it trying to do to keep you healthy.
Sometimes our body has it’s own plan of what it wants and your responsibility first and foremost is taking note of how you feel and responding. Don’t keep doing something that’s not working for you.
Moving onto digestive issues, sometimes people don’t thrive on plant foods because their digestive systems are sensitive to different chemicals in the plants.
These can be natural chemicals like phytic acid, lectins, gluten, salicylates, oxalates, and even certain fibers, as well as unnatural chemicals like pesticides that are sprayed on plants to keep bugs away.
These things can irritate the gut lining and cause leaky gut, heart burn and ulcers, they can agitate the nervous system and cause spasms and diarrhea and constipation.
You have to remember, plants don’t want to be eaten, and because they’re immobile --- they can’t run from predators and they can’t physically fight back -- their way of defending themselves is chemical.
Many of us are able to neutralize these chemicals and antinutrients, but some of us are not. Like I said before, it comes down to genetic differences and also what our bodies have been through in the past.
Antibiotics can weaken our digestion, diseases like Celiac, Crohns, Lyme disease and hypothyroidism can all affect digestion.
Regardless of why your digestion may be damaged, limiting the amount of plant foods can help some people narrow down food sensitivities and provide relief from their symptoms.
While you’re taking a break from the foods that could be causing issues, it’s important to get enough fat and protein to rebuild the gut lining and heal the damage down there.
This is where a lot of people find benefits from animal foods because they’re rich in fat, protein, collagen, glycine, and nutrients but don’t have these plant chemicals and fiber that can damage the gut.
You could also try a combination of plant foods like fermented soy, coconut, well-cooked vegetables, some blander kinds of fruits and starches to get adequate protein, fat, and nutrients to rebuild the gut. But I would stay away from grains, beans, nuts, seeds, commercial dairy and any produce that has been sprayed with pesticides as these can often cause gut issues.
So those are my thoughts on why some people feel better when they include some animal foods back into their diet. It’s a pretty interesting topic and one that I’ve been quietly following for a few months watching people share their experiences on YouTube.
It’s definitely changed my mind in terms thinking…maybe a plant-based diet won’t work for everyone and it’s gotten me digging a little deeper into the nutritional science to learn what actually may be happening to these people.
I think if there’s more information about this that we can share, it’ll makes our reactions and opinions more compassionate and understanding of the different ways that we all can achieve better health.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and video!
If you’re interested in nutrient-rich eating you can explore my website, blog, meal plans, and free starter guide!
Thank you for stopping by, I hope you have a great day!
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