How to Support Your Nutrition Through Veganuary

Most of you will have heard of Veganuary by now… the growing trend of those adopting plant-based diets in January in a bid to change their health, eat more vegetables and consume less animal products. 

Thinking of tackling Veganuary yourself?

This article will explore what Veganuary means, as well as how you can support your nutrition when adopting a plant-based diet, using targeted, high-quality NobleBlu supplements along the way.

 

What is Veganuary?

Veganuary is a dietary challenge that runs throughout January each year which involves abstaining from consuming any meat and other animal-derived foods. The challenge started in 2014 by a non-profit organisation which advocates veganism and it has gained more and more popularity and momentum every year, with more than 500,000 people signing up (1) last year alone!

 

Benefits of Going Vegan

Vegan diets (when followed sensibly) encourage the consumption of various plant-based foods which may achieve a diverse and healthy gut microbiome.

The gut microbiome refers to the communities of bacteria and microorganisms that reside within our digestive tract. The friendly bacteria that make up these communities can help our bodies to absorb and extract nutrients from our food, as well as synthesising important vitamins such as vitamin B12, K, and producing anti-inflammatory chemicals which nourish the health of the gut lining (which in turn helps to keep unwanted substances and pathogens out of the bloodstream). Our gut bacteria can also educate our immune cells, since 70% of the immune system has also been shown to reside within the digestive system (2).

A healthy microbiome is marked by having a diverse range of friendly microorganisms in the gut which work to maintain various physiological processes and optimum health in the body. 

So what feeds our microbiome? 

…… Fibre!

If we plan a vegan diet sensibly and incorporate a wide range of different types of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, wholegrains and legumes, we are helping to feed our gut bugs with the stuff that they love (fibre!), encouraging a healthy balance which can support overall wellbeing and ward off chronic disease. 

In addition to the consumption of more fibre in the diet, going vegan also provides a wealth of benefits in terms of protecting the environment (animal agriculture contributes to 18% of all greenhouse gases (3)), ethical considerations as well as supporting animal welfare.

 

Common Misconceptions of Going Vegan

  1. “Going vegan equates to better health” – many people believe that going vegan is healthier than including animal products in their diet, however this isn’t necessarily the case.

    It is still possible to follow a vegan diet that is high in processed foods, often labelled as “vegan junk foods”. If you have embarked on Veganuary for health reasons but you are still consuming various refined, white carbohydrate-rich foods such as pastries, cakes and sugar-laden breakfast cereals, you are likely to negate any potential benefits from simply removing animal foods from your diet. Plus, you may also experience the adverse effects of sugar spikes and energy crashes from the blood sugar rollercoaster.
  2. "You won't get enough protein in your diet if you go vegan" – this is a common misconception. Most people believe that high protein foods are exclusively from  animals i.e., chicken, beef, turkey, fish, eggs, and milk. Therefore, it is commonly assumed that vegans will not be able to meet their daily protein requirements. However, the truth is that there are plenty of plant-based foods which contain protein, in particular foods such as nuts, seeds, legumes, and wholegrains. 

 

Granted, you may need to eat slightly more of the plant-based protein sources to get the gram-for-gram equivalent of protein that is found in animal products. Also, some sources of plant-based protein are incomplete (this means that they do not contain the full spectrum of essential amino acids, unlike animal proteins), so pairing plant sources of protein together can be a useful tool to ensure that you are getting everything that you need.

 

Animal-derived protein sources (per 100g):

  • Chicken = 27g protein
  • Beef = 26g protein
  • Salmon = 22g protein

 

Plant-based protein sources (per 100g):

  • Hemp seeds = 33g protein
  • Peanut butter = 25g protein
  • Pinto beans = 21g protein
  • Lentils = 9g protein
  • Tofu = 8g protein

 

Common Nutritional Deficiencies when Going Vegan

If you are thinking of adhering to a vegan diet, then it is important to ensure that you obtain your daily micronutrient requirements (i.e. vitamins and minerals). There are certain nutrients that are prolific in animal-based sources and if you remove these from your diet, you may run the risk of becoming deficient. 

In particular, the nutrients to pay focus to when you are adopting a vegan diet include:

  • Vitamin B12
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Zinc
  • Iron
  • Vitamin D

 

Supplement Daily Requirements

Nutrients

Men (19+)

Women (19+)

B12

1.5mcg

1.5mcg

Omega 3

No current RDI

No current RDI

Zinc

9.5mg

7mg

Iron

8.7mg

14.8mg

Vitamin D

10mcg

10mcg

 NobleBlu’s supplements are all vegan-friendly and provide a strong foundation for all your nutrient needs.

 

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is a crucial nutrient for energy production as well as building healthy red blood cells. B12 is found strictly in meat, fish, eggs and dairy-based foods, however there are some fortified vegan foods such as nutritional yeast and fortified plant-based milks which contain a small amount of vitamin B12. If you are continuing with Veganuary on a long-term basis, it is advisable to consider a B12 supplement. 

Fortunately, NobleBlu Focus, NobleBlu Energy, and NobleBlu Balance all meet the minimum recommend daily requirements of vitamin B12.

 

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat which has been shown in numerous studies to support brain health and reduce inflammation. Omega-3 fats are essential fats, which means that the body does not produce them, and we need to obtain them in the diet to stay healthy.

There are many different types of omega-3 fats, however the most widely known types include:

  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
  • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
  • Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) 

Whilst ALA is the most common omega-3 fatty acid in most Western diets, and it is present in plant-based foods such as flax seed, walnuts and chia seeds, the most widely studied omega-3’s for their health benefits are EPA and DHA, which are present in oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines and herring. Whilst the body can convert ALA to EPA and DHA, this process is not very efficient in humans and so vegans are advised to supplement with a marine-derived source of EPA and DHA. 

 

Zinc

Zinc is a trace mineral and is considered an essential nutrient. This is because the body does not naturally produce zinc and thus it must be obtained through food or supplements.

Zinc is required for numerous physiological processes such as gene expression, enzyme reactions, immune function, wound healing, growth, and development. It is found in animal products such as shellfish, poultry, as well as plant-based sources such as chickpeas, lentils, pumpkin seeds, and quinoa.

During the winter months in particular, zinc is an important nutrient of consideration due to its immune health benefits and it should certainly be on your list of supplements to consider if you are embarking on Veganuary this year.

Zinc is found in both NobleBlu Immunity and NobleBlu Focus.

 

Iron

Iron is an important mineral for vegans to be aware of because many vegans can become deficient in this key energy-building nutrient and develop iron-deficiency anaemia.

There are two different forms of iron in the diet, heme iron and non-heme iron. Heme iron is available in animal proteins and is much more bioavailable (i.e. absorbable) than non-heme iron, which we tend to see in plant-based food sources of iron.

Fun fact: if you pair non-heme food sources of iron with vitamin C-rich foods, you will increase the iron absorption. For example, drizzle some lime juice on your black bean chili to reap the nutritional benefits! 

Heme iron examples: beef, liver, chicken, turkey

Non-heme iron examples: tofu, chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, collard greens, kale, lentils

Iron is found in both NobleBlu Energy and NobleBlu Beauty.

 

Vitamin D

Fun fact: vitamin D is technically a hormone, rather than a vitamin!

That’s right… the skin produces vitamin D upon its exposure to UVA and UVB rays from sunlight. 

Vitamin D is required by the body to support the immune system, build healthy bone tissue as well as helping to support muscle function. During the winter months in the UK, we lack exposure to adequate sunlight and therefore are prone to vitamin D deficiencies. 

What’s more, whilst some foods do contain a marginal amount of vitamin D, many of these are animal-based foods such as oily fish, red meat, liver and egg yolks. Vegans in particular should focus their attention on supplementing with vitamin D to avoid deficiencies.

In just one of Noble Blu’s Beauty, Balance , or Immunity blend capsules, you can find meet your daily vitamin D requirements.

By Lauren Windas, Nutritionist, Naturopath & Co-founder of ARDERE.COM.

 

References:

  1. https://veganuary.com/veganuary-2021-hits-record-breaking-sign-ups/
  2. Spahn, T. Kucharzik, T. (2004). ‘Modulating the Intestinal Immune System: The Role of Lymphotoxin and GALT Organs’, Gut, NCBI Online. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1773987/ (Accessed 16th January 2022).
  3. https://www.peta.org.uk/blog/how-going-vegan-helps-stop-climate-change/?utm_source=PETA%20UK::Google&utm_medium=Ad&utm_campaign=1120::gen::PETA%20UK::Google::s-grant-awa-dsa::::searchad&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI-vK4w7209QIVRu3tCh3ymgX0EAAYASAAEgLizfD_BwE

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