Vegan Protein Allergies and Constipation
Q I am 29 years old. I stopped eating meat, poultry and fish at age 11. I continued to eat cheese until age 20. I can’t imagine living any other way than being vegan. I have however been dealing with severe constipation (despite my many vegetables…I am in NO way a junk food vegan), and gastritis (probably stress related). I just found out that I am allergic to all of my protein sources…soy, tree nuts, legumes/peas. I am not sure what to do. I am taking a rice protein supplement and sticking with higher protein vegetables but I could really use some guidance. Can I sustain myself on this diet? I generally don’t eat gluten but I am considering seitan. How can I balance myself to make sure that I am getting all of the nutrients that I need. I am often fatigued, depressed, and having a hard time focusing. I feel very toxic but I don’t understand why. I literally eat vegetables, salads, brown rice and fruits all day but I am still constipated. Please help!
A This is an issue I usually hear from raw foodists. I am not knocking raw foods, merely stating the issue that comes up most often. You need some bulk in your diet to move digested foods along your intestines. You had that with legumes and nuts. Now replace those with grains. I only saw brown rice and, although I don’t know the amount, I do know the amount is not enough. Fiber is the key. There are two types of fiber in foods soluble and insoluble. 1 Neither is digested, but they have different properties and uses by the body. Soluble fiber becomes gelatinous when mixed with water. It is great for slowing down stomach emptying so that you can absorb the nutrients for a longer time. It also helps stabilize blood sugars and decrease insulin spikes after eating. Here is a list of foods and their soluble fiber levels. http://www.fatfreekitchen.com/soluble-fiber-foods-list.html
Insoluble fiber moves digesting foods through the intestines and prevents constipation. It maintains the pH balance of the colon and sweeps out unwanted materials, such as cancer cells, like a broom. Here is a link to a list of foods and their insoluble fiber content. http://www.dietaryfiberfood.com/dietary-fiber/insoluble-fiber-sources.php I would suggest you increase your insoluble fiber intake. Grains can give you the insoluble fiber you need. The first grain I would add is quinoa. All the amino acids your body needs can be found in quinoa, and it is gluten free. Brown rice does not contain all of the essential amino acids. If you are willing to eat some gluten, kamut2 is another great grain and high in insoluble fiber. There is a reason grains or legumes were at the bottom of the food pyramid. It should be the base of your diet. Make sure that you are have a few cups a day. For most adults a 1 cup a day will not do it. You will not get enough protein or fiber.
In addition to increasing whole grains, I would encourage you to take 2 tablespoons of flax meal daily, not seed. Many studies have should that vegan conversions of essential fatty acids are lower than their omnivore counterparts. One of the jobs of our fatty acids is hormonal balance. With the flax you may be able to balance your emotional state better, in addition to the flax assisting your bowel issue. As for your emotional state, there are a number of studies which show that low B12 levels can lead to depression. Michael Gregor, MD, among others3, suggests 2000 mcg per week of a sublingual [under the tongue] B12 supplement. There are no reliable vegan sources of B12 in the foods you eat. Bring these ideas into your healthy diet and you should be one smooth [move] operator.