The purely plant-based diet is making great strides towards the middle of society. More and more people are taking part in the annual “Veganuary” and are switching to a plant-based diet, sometimes or even forever. What this means for their health is a matter of controversy. It's difficult to keep track of things in this mess. A professional outlook helps.
With veganism, meat and all other animal products such as eggs, cheese or honey are avoided. The health risks resulting from malnutrition are controversial in medicine. © Mara Zemgaliete - stock.adobe.com
Those who follow a vegan diet do not consume any food of animal origin. This not only excludes meat, dairy products and eggs from the menu, but also gummy bears with gelatine, various flavors, animal additives such as carmine and juices, and wines that have been clarified with egg white or gelatine.
At first glance, this form of nutrition appears very restrictive, which is why many people express concerns about its practicality. In addition to the positive side effects on health, according to a meta-analysis, a vegan diet can include, for example, reduced risks for
counting. But it should be said that this only applies if the vegan diet is healthy and balanced. With the growing popularity of herbal products, the range of highly processed foods that can be bad for your health, regardless of diet, is also growing.
A frequently cited argument against vegan nutrition is the position of the German Nutrition Society (DGE), which regards various nutrients as critical and potentially critical. It should be noted that the only really critical nutrient is vitamin B12. Then there are the potentially critical nutrients
By potentially critical it is meant that these nutrients in the vegan diet may occur in insufficient quantities. The DGE is absolutely right about this, which is why its position in this regard should be taken seriously. However, that doesn't mean that a vegan diet is impossible.
One of the world's largest nutrition companies, the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, describes the well-planned vegan diet as appropriate for all phases of life from pregnancy and breastfeeding to childhood, adolescence, adulthood and seniority. The addition “well planned” is important, because without nutritional knowledge it can actually be difficult to eat a purely plant-based diet that meets your needs.
The vegan diet in particular often appears to be particularly risky because, according to the DGE, people find it difficult to meet their nutritional needs with it. Here, however, it is important to take a more differentiated look at the situation, whereby the National Consumption Study II (NVS II) helps . It was carried out a few years ago to find out what the nutrient supply of the German population is.
The NVSII was mainly attended by people with a mixed diet. The scientists found out that an undersupply of nutrients is not uncommon among these groups of people. An often unmet need arose with:
It may therefore be correct that there is a risk of nutrient deficiencies in a vegan diet and that this requires a well-thought-out menu. However, this does not mean that people with a mixed diet are per se free from the risk of deficiency. They too benefit from a well-planned diet.
A well-thought-out vegan diet includes regular consumption of all relevant food groups. These include:
Since the bioavailability of various nutrients such as iron, protein, zinc and vitamin B2 from plant sources is not always as good as that from animal sources, it is necessary to adjust the diet accordingly.
For example, the bioavailability of plant-based non-heme iron can be increased by adding a source of vitamin C to food and only consuming coffee about one and a half hours apart from a meal. The breakdown of phytic acid in whole grain cereals by soaking, sprouting or roasting is also useful, as this can otherwise inhibit the absorption of minerals such as iron and zinc.
|Extra tip: Vegans meet their daily calcium requirement more easily if they use calcium-rich mineral water. There are varieties with over 500 milligrams of calcium per liter, in which the calcium requirement is also covered by covering the personal fluid requirement.|
As a rule, only a blood test can explain whether there is a deficiency caused by a vegan diet or not.
To find out whether your own supply of nutrients is guaranteed, vegans should have regular blood tests. A small blood count is not sufficient here, as this does not include any micronutrient values. Values that should be checked once a year for vegan adults and twice a year for plant-based children are:
If you want to have your iodine supply checked, you should not choose the blood value, but an excretion test via the urine.
|Important: Many of these parameters have to be paid for by the patient themselves, as these are services that the health insurance companies do not cover. A preliminary talk can provide information about the expected costs.|
The supply of micronutrients in a plant-based diet is not always possible without supplements. However, that in turn is not an exclusion criterion.
Women and men should always inform themselves individually about the necessary supplements and should not take nutritional supplements carelessly. Lots of minerals and vitamins could otherwise be overdosedwhat is harmful to health.
In the case of underlying illnesses and admission disorders, special precautionary measures are also important, which is why supplementation should be discussed with specialists.
This information is never a substitute for a doctor's visit or sound nutritional advice and is only intended as a guide.
Supplements vegans should consider after an initial blood test include: