OKAY. I need to talk about this. I know none of my friends on Facebook care, and Twitter won’t let me write enough lol. But you GUYS. I have been feeling absolutely FANTASTIC lately.
As some of you already know, I went vegan in November of 2016. I originally did it for health reasons, as I have developed a pretty painful intolerance to eggs and dairy. I didn’t ease into the plant-based* diet like many people do; I dove straight into it and so did my husband! I still remember the exact day I ate animal flesh for the very last time and never looked back. Biting into a huge hunk of pot roast while looking at my sweet kitten Mort sleeping next to me gave me all sorts of conflicting emotions. But while I have developed an incredible amount of sympathy for the animals forced to suffer for the pleasure of humans’ taste buds–and I will gladly give all the reasons why the animal product industry is horrendous and we as humans do not need to consume them–that’s not what I’m here to talk about today. I’m going to keep it strictly health-based for this post, since I have fantastic proof and amazing outcomes to share with you!!
1. Digestive system
Let’s start with how a plant-based diet affected mine (and my husband’s) digestive system. P.S. it’s gonna get a tad TMI but hey, everybody uses the restroom!
I had struggled for years with stomach issues. I would always have to go to the bathroom almost immediately after eating and you could always count on me being in there for 20+ minutes. I often struggled with the constant back-and-forth of constipation and diarrhea. Many times I would barely have an appetite to eat because I knew I’d have a stomach ache afterward. Eventually I just concluded that I had IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and had to accept it for what it was. IBS would just have to be a part of my life and there was nothing I could do about it.
My husband had similar struggles. Due to an illness he caught while on a mission trip, he had many digestive problems as well and ended up having to take digestive enzymes because he literally could not digest his food. He too had to take many unwanted trips to the bathroom, which was very frustrating for him.
We both took probiotics to help with our stomach issues, but all those ever really did were make the issues not as noticeable. Missing one day of my probiotic was like a sentence to the bathroom for the next 24 hours. It was the worst!
I won’t get into all the details and scientific studies with references and such now, but it’s not unknown that dairy can be a large cause of stomach issues. A surprisingly large percentage of people of color are considered lactose intolerant because they simply cannot digest dairy. In fact, dairy is one of the worst things you can put in your digestive system if you struggle with bathroom trips–doctors encourage you to use dairy to force out constipation!!
As soon as I went vegan, my digestive system practically did a 180°. Not only did I stop suffering from constant constipation and diarrhea, but (TMI warning here) my poop….sank?? Allow me to explain.
Did you know that healthy stools are supposed to sink to the bottom of the toilet bowl?! If you’re reading this and thinking I’m crazy for not knowing, you’d be surprised! I had never seen my stools sink to the bottom in my entire life until going vegan. I just assumed everyone’s floated at the top! Turns out, a person’s stools will float if they contain too much fat. This can either mean you’re consuming too much fat and your body is getting rid of the excess, or your body isn’t retaining enough fat at all and is just expelling it instead. Perhaps this was a contributor to me being underweight my whole life? Who knows.
Anyway, along with my digestive improvements, my husband did much better too! He no longer has to take digestive enzymes or probiotics and has perfectly normal, no longer painful trips to the restroom. Unfortunately I’ve still had to take a probiotic until recently, which I’ll explain in a bit.
Onto the next improvement! Periods, yay!! Lol.
From the time I started getting my period up until the end of 2015, my period was quite irregular. It would be about 3-4 months in between periods, which is obviously not healthy. Of course, I have to blame my underweight-ness for that, but I also ate horribly. I loved meat (especially bacon & ham), consumed lots of dairy all day every day, and rarely ate my vegetables if I could help it. Let’s just say I was not the world’s healthiest eater haha.
At the end of 2015, I started taking birth control pills so I could find the one that worked best for me before getting married in 2016. At that point, my period was “regular”. It was relieving, but also kind of annoying because I hated having it every single month instead of every 3-4 months lol. But here’s one of the many issues with birth control pills if you’re only taking it to regulate your period: the bleeding that occurs during the placebo week is not actually a fully-fledged period, but much of it is actually withdrawal bleeding due to the lack of hormones you’ve been taking the other 3 weeks of the pill. That’s why, if you’re wanting to mess with nature and skip your period for whatever reason, the doctor will tell you just to skip the placebo week and jump straight to the regular hormone pills, thereby suppressing your period. Now, obviously there are many reasons the pill helps lots of women for different reasons. But for me, it just wasn’t worth it (not to mention it gave me horrible nightmares, bad spotting, and weird mood swings!!).
When I finally stopped the pill around 8 months before going vegan, my period went back to being irregular. But once I went vegan, it began to catch on and I started having my period roughly every month, give or take a few extra weeks. Now it’s in a perfect cycle, exactly on time every single month! It’s great because now I can actually know to expect it lol. Plus whenever we decide to have kids it’ll be easier to try to plan!
Okay so I was already wanting to write this blog post earlier this week, but then I went to the dentist today and it made me wanna write about this even more!!
I’ve always had a horrible history at the dentist. Bad excessive plaque buildup, bleeding gums, cavities, threat of gingivitis, etc. Not gonna lie, I don’t do all the things I’m supposed to haha. Growing up, I didn’t always brush my teeth twice a day and only did it once a day (yuck, I don’t know how I did that lol). And even now, although I brush twice a day every day, I still don’t floss like I should. I do use floss picks about once a day but nothing super thorough.
The last time I went to the dentist was about a month or two after I went vegan. I still got a bad report, but I was used to that by then haha. Then life got busy and my husband and I moved to a new location, so I hadn’t gone to the dentist since then until today. That means it was about a year and a half, whoops!
When I went to the dentist today, I got a PERFECT REPORT. That’s a big deal for me!!! The dentist said my teeth looked great, there was no sign of gingivitis, my plaque buildup was average like anyone else would have, and I didn’t have a single cavity. I had warned her beforehand that I tend to have extra plaque buildup because I have an extra saliva gland (my mouth is mutated–I also have molars with 3 roots instead of 2 and only had 3 wisdom teeth instead of 4, weirdo). She said that although that was true, it seemed that my saliva glands were producing more calcium than average which was protecting my teeth from getting cavities as easily. WHAT!!!
Okay so I don’t know how true all of that is, since this was just from one source (although yes she is an experienced dentist). But HEY! You hear that, anti-vegans?? The biggest complaint I hear from people when I say I don’t consume dairy is “but you won’t get enough calcium!” Well hey listen to this, apparently I have plenty of calcium lol! For real though, there are many plant-based foods that are quite high in calcium, even higher than the average serving of cow’s milk: soybeans, broccoli, and kale are a few examples.
So let’s just say I was very very VERY excited to have a perfect report at the dentist after having a lifetime of bad reports, not going to the dentist for a year and a half, and not doing anything special or more than my regular habits. That’s pretty awesome.
I have a family history of heart problems, thyroid issues, and what seems like a million other things. When I was in 3rd grade I believe, I was diagnosed with asthma. After all, it was the only explanation for my struggle to breathe as easily as the other kids when I exerted myself (not saying asthma isn’t a real thing but I’ll get to my point). Whenever we’d have to jog the dreaded mile in gym class, I was always last. I would be heaving, coughing, and choking all while my chest felt tight and squeezy, my throat and mouth were completely dried out, and I felt like I was going to throw up and die any second. Even speed walking or walking to class with a backpack on would make me feel this way! Thankfully I only ever had a small handful of asthma attacks growing up, only one of which had me sent to the hospital and it ended up being a side effect of walking pneumonia.
Since going to college, I never really needed to use my inhaler. Yes, I would still get just as out of breath and have chest pains when I’d try to exert myself, but I was so used to it that I would just avoid any activities that may trigger those symptoms.
There are many studies that claim veganism can “reverse” certain diseases and illnesses. I honestly don’t know if that’s true, but if it is then that’s fantastic! I can say, however, that it has either reduced or potentially even eliminated my asthma. I suppose I shouldn’t claim the latter until I try jogging a mile again or hiking up a mountain, but I can proudly say that I no longer have those out-of-breath feelings or chest pains when I exert myself in any way! Now I can speed walk a full mile without even remotely running out of breath, and I can do a full yoga/weightlifting workout without breathing heavily or having chest pains at all. I can even visit my family in Colorado at a crazy high altitude and feel fine!! And I have to say, it’s one of the most amazing feelings!
5. Heart problems
When I was in high school, I was diagnosed with Inappropriate Tachycardia: an unexplained naturally rapid heart rate. I got used to telling any and every doctor in college that I had this before they used their stethoscope. Unfortunately one time they took it too far, decided to run an EKG to investigate, thought I was having an arrhythmia, and sent me to the ER only to find out everything was fine. I got very used to my resting heart rate being in the mid-90s to mid-100s.
About 4 months into me being vegan, I was sitting at work one day and my resting heart rate had shot up to 145 bpm. I ended up realizing this was a panic attack, which I discussed and addressed with the counselor I had been seeing at the time. She ended up diagnosing me with a non-severe anxiety disorder and put me on medication to help balance out the chemicals in my brain. And while it did wonders, my heart rate was still on the higher side.
Earlier this year (2018), I ended up going to the doctor 3 or 4 times within a period of 3 months for various things. And every time, when I’d warn the doctor about my heart rate, it would always come out normal. My resting heart rate was always in the mid-70s, and she would say there’s no evidence of any Inappropriate Tachycardia. After this I began monitoring my heart rate regularly and sure enough, my resting heart rate is always between mid-70s and low-80s!
Again, not going to post all the references here, but I promise I’ve done extensive amounts of research on the subject haha. Studies have shown that many animal products have been linked to things like cancer and heart disease. Studies have also shown a significant decrease in risks for these things in vegans. Again, I don’t know if my plant-based diet has “reversed” my heart issues, but if anything it has reduced them to the point that I don’t even notice anymore and I feel fantastic!!
All my life I was convinced that I would never be able to do anything that required much endurance. I just assumed it was in my genetics–just the way God made me–that I would have heart and lung issues forever. The idea of carrying around my future baby scared me cause I feared I wouldn’t be able to do it without hurting myself. Or, in the event of some sort of emergency where I needed to run away, I just resigned to the fact that I wouldn’t be able to and I’d just be doomed haha. But everything is different now.
Of course, some people may say “well it’s probably not your diet, it’s other things.” But that’s just it! I haven’t changed anything else! My eating habits are the only change I’ve made to my body in the last year and a half. I’m reading a fantastic book right now which I will share with you another time soon, and it constantly reminds of the fact that what we put into our bodies is what we will get out of them.
If you’re choosing to ingest meat (which, by the way, takes up to 72 hours to go through your intestines because we have crazy long intestines unlike carnivores who have very short intestines, soooo yeah, dead animal flesh just chillin’ and rotting in your intestines for 3 days, yum), you may get some of those nutrients contained in the meat, but you can get them in a much purer, whole form in plants. Especially if you try to eat whole, raw foods as much as possible!
Meat is obviously heavily processed, and so is dairy. Processed foods in general (including vegan processed foods) are terrible for our bodies. The nutrients that would have been in the original food (if they were even there to begin with) have been stripped away, synthetic alternatives have been added, and they’re just not good for our stomachs either!
The Probiotic Thing
So let me address the probiotic thing I said earlier. Why do I still take probiotics if I’m vegan? Isn’t veganism supposed to be this magical cure I’m advocating for? Well hold on haha.
I originally took a probiotic capsule every morning to help with my digestive problems. And even when I went vegan, I still had to take them. I wasn’t finding any vegan foods that were “natural” probiotics like yogurt and sauerkraut are often known for (I’ve now discovered miso is a great probiotic!). Why did I still have to take them? Because I was eating waaaaaay too many vegan processed foods. Many vegans like to joke about the two types of vegans: the “junk food vegan” and the “healthy vegan” lol. I was most definitely the junk food vegan! There are just so many fantastically delicious vegan alternatives to meat and cheese and lots of yummy snacks out there! The only problem is that they’re all so processed!! Which is totally fine to have every once in a while, but I was having them way too often, which upset my stomach and made me afraid to stop taking the probiotics.
Recently I finally took charge and started eating fully organic, whole, raw vegetables and fruits. I eat whole grains, legumes, and raw nuts. The only things I’ve been eating that are already cooked would be breads and tortillas and things like that.
And oh. my. goodness.
I FEEL AMAZING!!!! It’s incredible how eating healthy can make such a huge difference!!! I mean obviously I was already healthier by being plant-based in general, but being vegan without all the processed junk?? TOTALLY WORTH IT. I just told my mom on the phone the other day how this is seriously probably the best I have ever felt in my entire life. And I am seriously not kidding.
I have so much more energy, I’m in a fantastic mood, my stomach isn’t hurting, I’m gaining healthy weight and building muscle, and more! I can’t stop talking about how great I feel to Mitch and he’s happy for me haha.
YOU GUYS. SERIOUSLY. If you want to improve your health, you really need to start with what you’re putting into your body. You know what they say: you are what you eat. And it’s so true!! I’ve also started saying “consume death, and death will consume you.” A bit more of a morbid take, but think about it. Eating dead animals to stay alive and healthy? Why do that when you can eat plants that produce seeds and grow on their own so you can stay alive and healthy even longer, all while enjoying a higher quality of life?? What’s the point in God making all these amazing plants that do amazing things for our bodies if we’re not going to use them??
Please please PLEASE try eating plant-based for once in your life. You can’t knock it till you try it–correctly. I know many people who say “I tried going vegan and I hated every minute of it, I felt horrible!!” But that’s usually because they did it wrong! Instead of eating plants that contained all the nutrients they were attempting to get from meat beforehand, they just weren’t getting those nutrients from anything at all. Of course you’re going to feel horrible if you do that! But seriously, if you eat right you can really make a huge positive difference in your health. And I hope my experiences can be a positive testament to that!
If you have ever considered going vegan or even just vegetarian, and you have some questions, feel free to ask me or my husband! We’ve done a lot of extensive research on the subject to ensure we’re being as healthy and ethical as possible. But of course, with all things, make sure to do your own research on it as well and come to your own conclusions.
Thank you for reading, and remember to comment with any questions you may have on the subject! See you next time!
*I’m using “vegan” and “plant-based” interchangeably for this post since I’m mainly focusing on the food aspect. Plant-based refers to one’s diet. Veganism refers to an entirely cruelty-free lifestyle. I am entirely vegan in my lifestyle as a whole but am just discussing food here!
**all stock photos from pexels.com!