Can you be a healthy low carb vegan?
One of my friends has recently improved her health enormously by changing from a standard British diet to a whole food vegan one.
She had never liked eating meat or fish but she never really thought about eating the most nutritious food possible- within her health beliefs– so she did eat a lot of junk food. Indeed, she thought that the state of her body and mind could not be improved much with changing the food she ate.
By chance, she saw a shocking programme about animal welfare and so made the switch to whole food veganism within a few days. The effects on her health have been astounding. The health problems that have plagued her for years have now gone.
Why should this be so, and what do I think of this as a GP? As a whole food vegan she will be eating a lot less sugar, salt and additives. She will also be getting more nutrients than in her previous diet that included a lot of processed foods. In avoiding processed food, she will also be eating a lot less wheat, and as wheat is broken down to glucose, it means her glucose load is a lot less. In avoiding dairy, she will also be reducing her sugar intake- think of the sugar in fruit yoghurts, milk, milk shakes, ice cream and fruit cheeses. Some people also have an unrecognised dairy intolerance, and this may have been the case with her.
I urged her to stick to whole food, unprocessed food, to take B12 supplements and to be mindful of getting enough nutrients. Consulting a dietitian would be the best way to find out how to do this, as my main concern with a low carb vegan lifestyle is nutrient deficiency.