Following the sequence of some of the previous posts dedicated to veganism as a lifestyle [here and here] and how it has been changing my mindset, I thought it would be helpful to also compile some thoughts on how this whole process actually changed me physically or, better said, if it has indeed improved my life, health and body and if so, how it did.
For that, I should begin by saying that, although I do consider myself very fortunate in terms of my health, I admit that for a long time, I remember of frequently falling ill. Nothing too serious, but tiring nevertheless. During my childhood I had either a cold, a flu or a tonsilitis at least twice a year, sinus infections, allergies, bronchitis and migraines. I even had a serious kidney infection which fortunately was found out just in time. Later on, I’ve also had problems with my gut, constantly dealing with serious constipation, cramps, poor digestion, and then acid reflux.
I am yet to understand if my immune-system was simply not that good or if it was caused by the cycle of periodically taking antibiotics for all the aforemetioned problems. Also, this obviously had a toll on my joints which started to hurt constantly by the time I was 16. At the time, I was prescribed with glucosamine sulfate twice a day and ibuprofen when the pain was worse – which did nothing good for my stomach. Nothing was found with X-ray or ultrasound because I never had any liquid on the joints (the pain was mostly on my kees and shoulders) and no-one could understand why I had pain to begin with. It was as if I was just constantly stiff and aching on my joints.
I will, later on, address this subject from other perspectives, such as the pill, holistic treatments and exercise but, for now, this was my experience with a vegan whole foods and plant-based diet and my health.
Since I began this journey with a vegetarian diet, I still had dairy and eggs frequently. With time, I noticed that these foods left me feeling uncomfortable and were difficult to digest. It didn’t take me long to realize that I was my best whenever I commited to a whole foods plant based diet, avoiding all dairy and eggs from my plate. Since avoiding these products, I’ve noticed my complexion, nails and hair getting better, shinier and stronger but, most of all, I notice a great difference with my digestion and energy levels. I also no longer have constantly aching joints, bloating or stomach pain, which is obviously great! I also lost about 10Kilos that I truly had no idea I had to loose in the first place, and although I realize that this also has to do with exercise, I notice that my body frame is much leaner than when I just exercised while eating animal products and I now feel satiated for longer.
I no longer have gut problems or skin breakouts unless I eat something very greasy or sugary [because cake and fries…well, you know…] and I now can identify easily which foods I’m more sensitive to. I also noticed that my tastebuds changed dramatically over time, while eating this way. I truly enjoy green smoothies, spinach, brown rice or black bean brownies, something that many people still find very weird. The truth is that, almost every person that commits to eat consistently like this, focusing on plants and whole foods, notices less cravings for processed foods and artificial flavours – I now crave chocolate cake made with beetroot and cocoa, desserts made with dates or oven-baked fries.
This doesn’t mean that I do not enjoy the occasional cake or fried foods or even that I find other foods “bad”. I don’t like to label foods like this and I do feel like everything has its place and moment. I do, however, feel that much emphasis is given on processed foods on a daily basis, with these becoming the center of many peoples food choices, which is bad for your health and wallet.
I truly feel that both my health and physique came out benefited with my diet change and, more importantly, I feel better about myself. My blood tests are great and I get all of my nutrients from all the vegetables, fruit, grains, seeds and beans out there, except from my B12 for which I do take a daily supplement [I’ll discuss the supplement issue later, here on the blog].
Still regarding my gut problems, I also was tested for celiac disease, which came out negative, and I’ve realized that my problem was not exactly eating gluten, but just too much gluten (think bread, cereal, pasta – sometimes all on the same day). So, I’ve managed to keep this problem under control not by not eating gluten, but by keeping my choices varied: like rice or bean pasta, barley bread, oats, etc, and not eating wheat consistently, which happens many times involuntarily.
So, in the end, I’ve had a tremendously positive outcome from my change to this diet, regarding all my health concerns. Of course I still do get sick, like any normal person but, not only is much less frequent but also it lasts less time to get better. Despite all this, I am not a health care professional although I did talk about all this process with my doctor while transitioning and I do request for regular blood tests. In the end, it can’t be all bad to choose mostly plants and whole foods instead of processed ones.