Changing from an omnivorous diet to a vegan diet can result in a plethora of changes to your body, both good and bad. Those coming from an omnivorous diet may see more of these changes as their bodies adjust away from dairy and meat products. Research has found that a vegan diet can be very beneficial to your body, if planned and executed well. Sophie Medlin, nutrition lecturer at King’s College London, recently delved into the topic, here’s what happens to your body when you go vegan.
What to Expect After Going Vegan for The First Month
Eating fruits, vegetables, and nuts, while cutting out meat and dairy initially results in a noticeable boost in energy in the beginning of your vegan diet due to the increase in vitamins, minerals, and fiber in your diet. Additionally, the processed meats that are now absent from your diet won’t make you sluggish as your body works to digest them. Careful preparation of meals and snacks yields further benefits as you can avoid processed snacks and junk food.
Your new high fiber diet can result in some changes in your bowels because of the high fiber and carbohydrate content of your new diet. The increase in carbohydrates can result in irritable bowel syndrome. Depending on your stomach chemistry, some experience more regular, healthy bowel movements while others can experience bloating, wind, and loose motions.
After a few weeks your bowels should settle into some lasting positive changes in the diversity of colon bacteria. All depending of course on whether you’re eating prepared, healthy meals, or snacking on refined carbohydrates. Scientists are rapidly moving toward the idea that high diversity in gut bacteria is good for you just like high diversity in an ecosystem is, however this just a theory.
Your Body Changes After Going Vegan
After three to six months a few other changes appear. The high volume of fruits and vegetables in your diet may result in your acne clearing up. Your vitamin D levels may be dropping because humans get most of our vitamin d from non-vegan food sources. Remember to take your vitamin D supplements, especially because our stores of it only last about two months. Vitamin D is very important because it keeps muscles, teeth, and bones healthy while mitigating cancer, heart disease, migraines and depression.
As the months roll by, your body adapts itself to absorb nutrients like iron, zinc, and calcium more efficiently through the intestine. However, some may see some vitamin and nutrient deficiencies as our bodies all adapt differently to these changes. Be aware of how you feel and use supplements when necessary.
What Happens to Your Body After Going Vegan for Years?
As the months turn into years, your stores of vitamin B12 may deplete. This is important as B12 is only found in animal products and is an essential nutrient to your well-being. If you have a deficiency you may feel breathless, exhausted, forgetful, and experience tingling in your extremities. If you lack B12 for long enough, you’re at a much higher risk for heart disease, stroke, and potentially nerve and brain damage. Eating at least three B12 fortified portions of food per day, or simply taking a supplement easily prevents a deficiency.
After a few years your calcium levels may start to drop. The reason why is that our bodies slowly lose the ability to absorb calcium and after age 30, our bodies take calcium from our bones when our diet is lacking in the mineral. Calcium deficient bones are more brittle and prone to breakage. Thankfully, there are foods we can eat to combat this issue. Vegetables like kale, broccoli, collard greens, and spinach are all excellent sources of calcium.
Many of the good parts of a vegan diet are offset by the potential deficiencies, so take extra care to eat all of the good things! Thankfully, veganism is a growing movement, so eating well while forgoing meat and dairy is becoming increasingly easy as more grocery stores are stocking friendly items. Going vegan with due diligence, proper food preparation, and a keen sense of how your body feels can be good for overall health.