Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Part Three: Nutritional Deficiencies

Part Three: Nutritional Deficiencies 

It’s common to see supplements containing high doses of antioxidants lining the shelves of health food stores, but they can be dangerous in high levels. Most of these vitamins are manufactured in a few chemical plants in China and then sprayed on processed foods to prevent deficiency as opposed to the broad spectrum of antioxidants and vitamins found in natural foods. These chemical defenses found in plants are referred to as antinutrients. They can be found in roots, leaves, and seeds. Some are bitter substances that discourage animals from eating that plant again. Antinutrients are found in the largest quantities in cereals and legumes, although they can be in other plants also. They can prevent nutrient absorption by binding to vitamins and minerals, which may lead to nutritional deficiencies. They can also prevent the absorption of protein, in the case of legumes, which may lead to protein deficiency if the diet is not well balanced to include other protein sources. Soy products consumed in this highly processed form can be problematic for health. People with allergies to soy can be triggered by soy lecithin, which is hidden in foods as a common emulsifier. Soy lecithin may also impair cognitive function and impact brain chemistry. Soaking, sprouting, cooking, fermenting, or even just chewing plants can help reduce their negative effects on digestion and reduce toxins to some degree. In starting a vegetarian or vegan diet, people tend to also eliminate a lot of problematic foods like sugar and processed foods, which will immediately make anyone healthier. But this great feeling of health has nothing to do with the elimination of animal foods, as many would like to believe. Among the most concerning nutrient deficiencies prevalent in the vegetarian and vegan population is vitamin B12. Iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency worldwide, Heme iron, found in red meat, is the most absorbable kind of iron, two to three times better than plant-based iron, and absorption is also dependent on current iron stores. Although a package label of a meat-free food may say it contains a lot of iron, only about 1.4–7 percent of plant based iron can actually be absorbed, compared to 20 percent in red meat. The calcium found in plant foods is not as bioavailable as calcium from foods like dairy and sardines. Greens like spinach and kale contain compounds that actually block calcium absorption. Other nutrients of concern for those on meat-free diets include glycine, selenium, methionine, taurine, creatine, choline, and iodine. Iodine deficiency can lead to brain damage There are several studies that have found a disturbing link between depression and meat-free diets. Many of the nutrients commonly missing in meat-free diets are directly shown to have impacts on depression and anxiety. 

Here is a list of the common nutritional deficiencies and their effects:

Zinc: Serotonin Synthesis

B6: Neurotransmitter Synthesis

D3: Calcium Regulation

Iron: Neurotransmitter Synthesis

B12: Myelin Synthesis

Magnesium: Glutamate Inhibition

Omega 3: Neural Signaling 

Because many people choose to eliminate meat for environmental or ethical reasons, when there is a health decline, some people tend not to realize that the food they’re eating is causing the problem. People may simply feel their health issues come from not following the diet strictly enough. And, for certain people, even taking the “right” supplements isn’t enough.  If you are someone eating mostly or all plants, and have some health issues like fatigue, light-headedness, acne, skin rashes, mood swings, brain fog, digestive distress, blood sugar regulation problems, or other health symptoms, it’s critical to consider that being meat-free could be contributing to these issues. Red meat research is not based on strong science and that the real culprit for the growing health issues we’re facing are hyperpalatable, ultraprocessed modern foods. Observational research can only show associations, not prove causation. The decisions made around what constitutes a “healthy” diet has likely not only made people less healthy but has accelerated and entrenched perhaps the most injurious elements of our food production system, for both human and global health.