A vegan diet is not synonymous with health. Nor is the vegan movement only about food and eating healthy. But with a little effort, keeping animals off your plate can help you reach your fittest self.
To know how to improve your health though, you need to first know your starting point. Through this blog, I want to help you understand your current health status and heal your body.
As a vegan it should be your moral obligation to be in the healthiest shape you can so that the world look at you as the fittest role model.
If you identify with any of the signs below, it is time to start taking your health seriously on plant-based diet. So let’s dive in:
1) Low energy level’s: What is your first thought as soon as you wake up? Is it ‘ug another morning’ or is it to spring out of bed with a smile. Most people assume it is natural to feel low energy level’s as you age. This however is not true. You might be experiencing sluggish because of hormonal fluctuations, lack of vitamins, gut dysbiosis, etc. This is also a sign of low vit b12 levels. I insist on getting a B12 test done every six months to ensure your levels are optimal. Lack of vitamin b12 almost always is also associated with an iron deficiency, leading to low energy levels.
2) Irregular menstrual cycle: Fluctuating female sex hormone levels and elevated men sex hormones in women is often associated with irregular menstrual cycles. Besides this, irregular cycles could also be a sign of PCOS, a metabolic condition, or poor nutritional habits. If your cycles are more than 28- 35 days apart, it is best to visit a gynaecologist and rule out PCOS/ PCOD. Working with a plant-based sports nutritionist such as Roshni Sanghvi can help you reverse symptoms of PCOS without the need for medication.
3) Erectile Dysfunction: If you are not able to perform in bed, you are not alone. Million’s of men across the globe struggle with erectile dysfunction and are intimidated to discuss it with a professional. Chances are that your testosterone levels are low, but there could be a bigger problem hiding to explode. Like any other part of your body, the penis requires adequate blood supply to function well. If your blood vessels are clogged with cholesterol, your dick doesn’t require the blood supply needed. If there is cholesterol built up in the private parts of your body, chances are that your heart vessels are also clogged with cholesterol. Guess what happens if your heart doesn’t get enough blood supply? You are right- BOOM. Do not rush to pop the viagra, check your cholesterol level’s instead and work on bringing them down.
4) Forgetfulness/ Memory Loss: A dip in the attention span of man has been consistent since the technology age. But have you been experiencing recent memory loss? Are you more forgetful than a few years ago? This is not a sign of aging alone but also a symptom. Believe it or not, this also is linked with cholesterol. Well, mostly. Cholesterol itself cannot make its way into the brain. This is because we have something called the BBB (blood-brain barrier) protecting us. However, cholesterol when exposed to heat, such as in fried and junk food and margarine converts to oxidized cholesterol. Oxidized cholesterol is proven to affect mental health. Alzheimer’s, dementia and brain degenerative diseases are all a sign of excess oxidized cholesterol. Limit the consumption of oil and margarine- even though they are vegan.
5) Irregular bowl movement: Google the bristol stool chart. What does your bowl movement look like. You should be a solid number 4 on most days. Anything above or below that could be a sign of gut dysbiosis. The word gut dysbiosis simply means the loss of harmony among the probiotic bacteria in your gut. Gut dysbiosis drops your metabolism, boosts insulin resistance, makes your body store more body fat, and is also linked to inflammation. All of these are early signs of diabetes, heart diseases, and even some types of cancers. Food sensitivities are also a sign of gut dysbiosis. Instead of rushing to add a prebiotic to your diet, work on understanding what caused this in the first place and fix the same. Probiotics will only temporarily band-aid the wound, but if you do not change your lifestyle, the dysbiosis will return.
6) Sluggish metabolism: One sign of metabolism is stubborn weight gain. The kind of weight that just does not drop no matter what you do. But brittle nails and extensive hair fall could also be a sign of slow metabolism. Exercise can help boost your metabolic health slightly. But I would ask the question- WHY. and genetics is often not the answer. Yo-yo dieting, very restrictive dieting, sedentary lifestyle, bad food habits, alcohol consumption could all be factors of low metabolism. Herbs like dandelion and ashwagandha do help the liver boost the metabolism slightly, but it is probably time to work on holistic lifestyle changes.
7) Acne and skin problems: If you are new to veganism and have been a dairy/ meat fan all your life, then acne could just be a sign of your body trying to detox. But acne in adults is never by chance. Hormonal fluctuation or IBS could be just a couple of reasons for your acne. Acne is a sign of your gut health. Ideally, you want to have clear and vibrant skin. Elevated stress levels, lack of proper hydration, fiber deprived diet could show up as marks on your skin. Applying beauty products from the outside is like painting dried up brown grass green. It is not a solution. Working with a skincare specialist or a nutritionist can help you figure out what is wrong and fix the issue.
8) Chronic body and joint pains: Even if you are an avid fitness enthusiast, you should not have chronic pains. Lack of recovery could be a sign of inflammation. If your body pain is also often associated with insomnia, there could be a deeper issue. Making sure you consume enough anti-inflammatory foods such as turmeric, fruits (at least five servings per day), and vegetables. Joint pains often go away by just dropping meat and dairy from your diet. If you continue to have weak muscles though, work with a fitness expert to help you strengthen them. Autoimmune diseases could also be a sign of chronic joint and muscle pains.
9) Elevated blood glucose levels: Make sure to check your blood glucose levels once every six months. Most people think that elevated blood sugar is only a sign of excess carbs in the diet. But this is not true. You want to stay away from sugar and highly processed carbs, but fibrous carbs such as lentils/ beans/ pulses and vegetables are actually beneficial in terms of reducing your blood glucose levels. Eliminating these from your diet could be counterproductive. On the other hand, excess consumption of oil’s and unhealthy fats can drive your sugar levels up as they clog your arteries. Getting bi- yearly tests done could be a wake-up call for some.
10) Obesity: Obesity alone is a welcome mat to multiple other diseases. Just bringing your bodyweight down in an ideal BMI range is enough to see your health bloom. This is because every single fat cell in your body is a hormone making machine. The more fat cells you have, the more sex hormones like estrogen and androgen are pumped into your bloodstream. Estrogen stores body fat and lead to more obesity. Not only that, but elevated estrogen levels are linked with PCOS. Working your way to an 80% whole food diet is enough to see a drastic difference in your bodyweight without having to count calories or adding extensive exercise into your routine.
Whatever your starting point maybe, you can always get better. No matter what your age is currently, there is always a scope to improve and get better. If you have made it to the end of this blog, take another 5 minutes to book a health checkup for yourself and know your starting point.
If you identify with any of the points above, know that you can experience a fitter version of yourself by making a few simple tweaks in your lifestyle.
You can reach also reach out to some of the Vegan Nutritionists like Roshni Sanghvi.