A lot more people are choosing to go vegan these days for health or even ethical reasons. If going vegan has been on your list for quite some time now, don’t jump into the diet right away. You may want to first take note of certain health implications that come with being vegan.
It’s not that going vegan is bad for one's health; a vegan diet may pose certain health risks if you go into it haphazardly and don’t pay careful attention to what you are eating. Knowing the possible health implications of veganism will help you get the best out of your plant-based diet.
- Overconsumption of grain-based carbohydrates
One of the possible risks of going vegan is that you end up consuming too much carbohydrates. Sure, whole-grain carbohydrates are really healthy and they make you full, but consuming too much of any grain-based carbohydrates will cause a rise in one's blood sugar levels. This leads to elevated insulin levels and eventually chronic problems like inflammation may surface. Grains also contain lots of indigestible sugars and proteins like lectins that can lead to SIBO or IBS when these sugars cause bacteria to accumulate in the gut.
- Distorted perception of gluten intolerance
Many vegans also go gluten-free – it tends to lead one to associate going gluten-free as something automatically healthy. However, cutting gluten out of your diet if you aren’t actually gluten-intolerant, as in the case of people suffering from coeliac disease, will deprive your body of vital nutrients found in gluten. Besides, gluten intolerance is a complicated issue as gluten sensitivity is measured on a spectrum rather than a yes-no basis. Determining your gluten intolerance level is also tricky as there are more than 20 different components of wheat that could cause the symptoms of gluten intolerance. Choosing to go gluten-free just because you are vegan could be a risky choice to make.
- Lack of nutrients
There isn’t much room for variety in a vegan diet. The main food groups you are eating from are vegetables, grains and legumes. Vegetables are great but grains, as earlier mentioned, can cause inflammation and gut problems in large amounts because of their high sugar content and the presence of certain toxic proteins like lectins and saponins. Unfortunately, these problems apply to legumes too. That’s not all – grains and legumes can also leech essential nutrients from your diet because certain compounds found in these foods can bind to essential minerals in our body, causing them to lose their nutritious properties.The very nature of a vegan diet already means you are losing out on a lot of nutrients found in meat and animal products such as vitamin D, B vitamins and magnesium. Sadly, the vegan substitutes for meat could have a nutrient-leeching counter-effect when consumed in high quantities.
Going vegan is a brave decision to make and one that deserves respect – it is by no means a lifestyle change one should take lightly and one should take into consideration the possible health implications of veganism. If you do decide to go ahead with your choice, aim to regulate your intake of carbohydrates and legumes and make sure you're getting enough plant-based protein from a variety of vegan-friendly sources.