Considering switching to vegan diet, but one hangup - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 09-06-2013, 10:54 AM
 
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I've been following a lacto/ovo vegetarian diet for the past few months and it has been a great experience for me. I feel better, I'm more "regular," my cholesterol has dropped and in general I feel that a diet that centers around plant-based foods is much healthier than an omnivorous one. Now, I've come to realize that dairy products really aren't any better than meat, so I'm contemplating adopting a vegan diet.

 

There's only one thing that is holding me back-the amount of fiber I would be eating. At the end of last year, I went on a quest to lead a healthier lifestyle and lost about 40 lbs (dropping down to about 170) which I have been pretty much maintaining ever since. I run 4 days a week and lift weights on 3, so my maintenance is right around 3000-3200 calories. When I was eating meat, it provided an easy 300-500 extra calories a day aside from the non-meat food that I was eating. After I stopped eating meat, I had to make up for that 300-500 calories with a little bit of dairy as well as quite a bit of fruits and veggies, which in turned increased the amount of fiber I was eating.

 

Now, it took awhile to adjust to the increased fiber intake, but oh man did my BM's get a whole lot easier and I feel so much fuller after meals. As of right now,  I get about 65-70 grams of fiber a day along with the proper amount of calories I need for my activity levels. Aside from gas and bloating at first, I've not had any issues with this much fiber. 

 

Basically, my problem is that if I cut out dairy, in order to hit the number of calories I need to sustain my daily activities, I will eat more plant-based foods and wind up taking in 80+ grams of fiber.

 

So, my question is, are there any serious health problems that can result from this? I've heard people mention possible malabsorption of some minerals due to high fiber intake, but have never been able to verify that. I would like to adopt a vegan diet, but I don't want to compromise my health if it's unhealthy to eat that much fiber. Your experience and input is very much appreciated.

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#2 Old 09-06-2013, 11:28 AM
 
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Hi, good move on going vegan

Do you know the vegan Ironman Brendan Brazier? You van visit his site here http://thriveforward.com/. It’s full of resourcesfor vegan athletes, and there are also forums in there.

I read his books Thrive and I found them very informative.

Hope this can help.

Isabelle, aka La Grenouille
My blog (in French): L’herbivore — http://lherbivore.ca
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#3 Old 09-06-2013, 12:09 PM
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One study claims that:

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When dietary fiber intakes are increased by supplementing diets with bran and whole wheat products, then fecal fat, nitrogen, energy, and mineral excretion rise. These changes suggest that fiber may be altering normal digestive and absorptive function. Recent studies have confirmed this and have also shown that fiber of different composition and from contrasting sources produces different physiological effects. The gel-forming polysaccharides such as guar gum and pectin alter the pattern of glucose absorption and are hypocholesterolemic: fiber from cereals is not hypocholesterolemic but exerts a pronounced effect on the large gut. Dietary fiber is largely digested in the colon by the microflora and so influences colonic function, fecal weight. and composition. The significance of the changes in fat, nitrogen, and energy output remains to be evaluated, but the impairment of mineral absorption-particularly of calcium, zinc, and iron-by fiber gives cause for concern. Fibre must now be considered with other dietary constituents in all nutritional studies.

http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/31/10/S21.full.pdf

 

The bit I bolded implies that the way fibre effects your body depends on your fiber sources. It may not be fiber in general that affects mineral absobtion: phytates in grains can bind with minerals, and minerals in grains (not exclusive to grains) can bind to other minerals too.


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#4 Old 09-06-2013, 01:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LentilEater55 View Post

So, my question is, are there any serious health problems that can result from this? I've heard people mention possible malabsorption of some minerals due to high fiber intake, but have never been able to verify that. I would like to adopt a vegan diet, but I don't want to compromise my health if it's unhealthy to eat that much fiber. Your experience and input is very much appreciated.
No, fiber intake of 80~90 grams is well within the range of normal for humans. Fiber, in itself, doesn't blind much to micro-nutrients so it doesn't have much effect on how they are absorbed, its the other compounds in plant-foods like phytates that can reduce absorption. But these compounds don't suck nutrients out of your body, they just reduce the absorption of some nutrients which would only be a problem if your intake was marginal. A whole foods plant-based diet of 3,000 calories should supply well over the recommended value of all nutrients except b12.
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#5 Old 09-07-2013, 02:37 AM
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You BM's will improve even more smiley.gif
Fiber is good, that amount is fine and your digestive tract will be happier w/o dairy products.
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#6 Old 09-07-2013, 08:59 AM
 
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Thanks for the information and advice everyone. I intend to gradually phase out the dairy in my diet until I've used up all that I have in the fridge. I'm already eating B12-fortified foods and drinking B12-fortified almond milk, along with getting more than enough calcium from plant-based foods, so the transition shouldn't be overly difficult. I'm really looking forward to trying out some of the vegan recipes posted on this site. I think I'm going to like it :cool:

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#7 Old 09-07-2013, 09:41 AM
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This might sound a bit heretical, but maybe you could eat some refined carbs in addition to the whole grains. That would add extra calories without a lot more fiber, as would fats such as vegetable oil. I honestly don't know if this would be healthier for you; diabetes runs in my dad's side of the family so I'm mindful of my carb intake, even though I eat a lot of carbs. I try not to eat too much right before going to bed, and try to eat refined carbs mostly within an hour before I'm going to be physically active so that I burn them up instead of storing them as fat or wearing out my pancreas. Fats/oils can present their own health problems too, although we do need them.

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#8 Old 09-07-2013, 10:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LentilEater55 View Post

I'm already eating B12-fortified foods and drinking B12-fortified almond milk..
As a "better safe than sorry" strategy, its probably best to still take a b12 supplement once a week or so (1000~2000 mcg).

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This might sound a bit heretical, but maybe you could eat some refined carbs in addition to the whole grains. That would add extra calories without a lot more fiber, as would fats such as vegetable oil.
There are a number of junk foods they could add that aren't high in fiber, but what would be the purpose? A normally functioning digestive system should have no trouble dealing with 80~90 grams of fiber, now, if someone had a digestive disorder perhaps these refined foods could help but otherwise what benefit would one derive from them?

Eating refined carbohydrates before physical activity doesn't reduce their load on your pancreas, the amount of insulin produced by the pancreas is related to blood sugar levels which are related to what is consumed. Refined carbohydrates burden the pancreas because they are rapidly digested and that occurs whether or not you're active. It probably doesn't do much to prevent fat storage either unless one is significantly overfeeding as the body prefers to store excess glucose in glycogen not fat cells.
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#9 Old 09-09-2013, 10:50 AM
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Eating refined carbohydrates before physical activity doesn't reduce their load on your pancreas, the amount of insulin produced by the pancreas is related to blood sugar levels which are related to what is consumed.

Are you sure about that? Insulin is produced in response to blood sugar levels, yes- but blood sugar levels will not rise so quickly if one is active, since active muscles would be taking more sugar out of the blood.

 

If this were not true, on the other hand, a solution could be to eat smaller but more frequent meals, which would presumably cause less of a rise in blood sugar since less food would be being consumed at one sitting.

 

I wouldn't advocate that anyone deliberately increase their intake of junk food, but sometimes it would be nice to deal with a bit less posterior production every now and then. (I speak from experience).


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#10 Old 09-10-2013, 08:29 PM
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Are you sure about that? Insulin is produced in response to blood sugar levels, yes- but blood sugar levels will not rise so quickly if one is active, since active muscles would be taking more sugar out of the blood.
Muscle tissue, for the most part, requires insulin to uptake sugar so not only does intense exercise not lower insulin production it increases it because the glucose utilization of the muscle tissues is dramatically increased. Though circulating insulin levels shouldn't increase much because its being utilized, but circulating insulin will increase after exercise as glucose utilization decreases rapidly while insulin production decreases more slowly.

Exercise does promote better insulin sensitivity though, so all things equal someone that exercises should be able to better handle refined carbohydrates than someone that does not.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom View Post

If this were not true, on the other hand, a solution could be to eat smaller but more frequent meals, which would presumably cause less of a rise in blood sugar since less food would be being consumed at one sitting.
Or just avoid refined foods and consume a diet that promotes insulin sensitivity. As for gas, the body adjusts to higher fiber intakes and over time and you shouldn't produce that much gas when your fiber intake is consistently high. Its short-term shifts that can be problematic.
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