Exploring The 7 Lesser-Known Consequences Of Plant-Based Diets
Image Credit: iStock

The embrace of plant-based diets has significantly gained ground in the pursuit of healthier lifestyles and moral eating choices. These diets, which emphasise plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes, are praised for their potential to improve general well-being and have a minimal negative impact on the environment.

There is a less-discussed aspect to plant-based diets, though, which is the possibility of unpleasant side effects that may appear after switching from animal-based foods. For anyone considering or already committed to a plant-based dietary path, exploring these lesser-known effects is crucial to ensuring a balanced and knowledgeable approach to enjoying the benefits of this revolutionary lifestyle.

A plant-based diet is one that focuses on eating mostly meals that are derived from plants and limits or completely avoids animal products. The principal sources of nourishment are whole, unprocessed plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Utilising the nutrient-dense foods' wide variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and dietary fibre is the main goal.

Various plant-based diets exist, ranging from vegetarianism (which forgoes meat but may include dairy and eggs) to veganism (which forgoes all goods derived from animals). Such diets are frequently adopted for ethical, environmental, and health reasons. It is crucial to guarantee good planning to meet nutritional demands, particularly for nutrients normally found in animal products such as vitamin B12, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids, despite the fact that they can offer a number of advantages such as reduced risk of chronic diseases and lesser environmental impact.

The Side Effects Of Plant-Based Diets To Know:

Nutritional Deficiencies:

Relying only on plant-based diets may result in nutritional deficits. For the synthesis of red blood cells and neurological function, vitamin B12, which is predominantly found in animal sources, is essential. Non-heme iron, which comes from plant sources, is less easily absorbed than heme iron, which can cause anaemia. Heart and brain health are influenced by omega-3 fatty acids, which are primarily found in fatty fish.

Digestive Problems:

An abrupt increase in dietary fibre from plant foods can make people feel uncomfortable with their digestion, especially when changing diets. Gas, bloating, and irregular bowel movements can all happen. These problems can be controlled by gradually increasing fibre intake, staying hydrated, and eating soluble fibre sources like oats and lentils.

Thyroid Concerns:

While soy products offer protein to vegetarians and vegans, consuming too much of them can interfere with thyroid function because of goitrogens. Balance your protein sources and choose less processed, fermented soy products like tempeh and miso.

Kidney Stones Buildup:

Some plant-based foods contain oxalates, which are chemicals that can help produce kidney stones. Large amounts of oxalate-rich foods, such as spinach and beetroot greens, when combined with inadequate fluid consumption, can raise the risk. The key is moderation and hydration.

Phytic Acid:

Plant foods include phytic acid, which can bind to minerals like calcium, iron, and zinc and prevent their absorption. Soak, sprout, or ferment grains, legumes, and seeds before eating to help reduce this.

Caloric Density:

Plant-based diets may be less calorically dense than other diets, which, if improperly balanced, could result in undesired weight loss or insufficient calorie intake. Maintaining a healthy weight can be made easier by concentrating on nutrient-dense foods and including healthy fats.

Social and Lifestyle Challenges:

When there are few plant-based options, social events and eating out can be challenging. Planning ahead and communicating your dietary preferences will help you get through these situations.