Many articles will explain the abundant benefits of a vegan diet. Enthusiasts about the vegan diet often do not mention the flaws of their diet and many vegans at one point develop health problems such as periodontitis, diarrhea, blood sugar and mental health issues.
One of the most dangerous movements in recent times is the so-called 'raw veganism movement'. Raw veganism can be severely deficient in essential nutrients, and its many problems are often not mentioned. So called leaders in the field of vegan movements (Brian Clement, David Wolfe) claim to drastically increase longevity without mentioning the problems of complete avoidal of animal products. The food pyramid is strict and most of the time based on nuts/seeds, plant oils, fruits and vegetables.
This article does not deny that a very well planned vegan diet can be sufficient in essential nutrients but will summarise the 3 flaws that are often overlooked when planning a vegan diet and can cause harm to the health of a person following the vegan diet.
Flaw #1: Phytic acid
Phytic acid is an anti-nutrient found in the majority of the plant-based foods of a vegan diet. This molecule is known as a mineral chelator and will draw minerals out of the body. But the real dark side about phytic acid is its effect on the teeth, a study performed by Drs. Mellanby demonstrated the drastic effect of three different diets on teeth cavities:
Group One: Regular diet high in phytic acid
Group Two: Regular diet high in phytic acid plus vitamin D
Group Three: Diet low in phytic acid plus vitamin D
Effect of phytic acid in the formation of cavities .
The diet high in phytic acid was correlated with bad oral hygiene and a formation of cavities. Phytic acid is abundant in grains and nuts and when consumed in excess can harm the teeth. Diet 1 was very low in phytic acid and was found to have a drastic improvement in oral hygiene.
Flaw #2: Bacterial Infections
Vegetables contain high amounts of bacteria that are only removed during cooking. In 2011 an outbreak of E.Coli O104:H4 in Germany caused 50 deaths and 3146 bacterial infections. Vegan enthusiasts often protect this flaw by explaining unscientific methods to remove the micro organisms such as soaking or rinsing with hydrogen peroxide. The only way however to remove these harmful bacteria is by cooking your food.
Flaw #3: Deficiency in L-carnitine, Choline and DHEA
- L-carnitine is only found in meat and although the body can produce its own carnitine in the liver, a deficient diet can lead to a reduced amount of nitric oxide being produced in the blood vessels. Nitric oxide acts as a vasolidator, effectively reducing blood pressure and supporting endothelial function.
Pathway of carnitine production in the liver and its role in the mitochondria
Carnitine is produced in the liver and is important in fatty acids oxidation, assisting the mitochondria to make energy.
- Choline found in eggs is an essential nutrient for proper brain functioning and is often deficient in a typical vegan diet. Choline is one of the most important factors in mental health and aids in stress reduction and brain development.
- When consuming a strict vegan diet supplementation of fish oil is recommended to obtain normal levels of DHEA, this prohormone is crucial for our general health and low levels are correlated with an increase risk in heart disease and diabetes.
Benefit #1: Increase in Energy Levels
Many vegans report an increase in energy while consuming a vegan diet. A vegan diet, especially raw is abundant in enzymes and very high in fiber. Spinach and lettuce contain prebiotics leading to regular bowel movements and a more efficient digestion. A vegan diet increases dopamine levels in the brain leading to a more productive mindset.
Benefit #2: Reduced Risk of Heart Disease
Animal products, especially meat contains L-methionine, saturated fat, cholesterol and arachidonic acid. By replacing meat with vegetable oils the heart disease driving compounds found in meat are avoided and the risk of developing atherosclerosis is lowered. A vegan diet in addition is especially low in salt leading to lower blood pressure and less strain on the endothelial cells of the inside lining of the arteries.
Progression of artherosclerosis leading to heart disease