Vegan Protein Powder Benefits

vegan protein shake helps build muscleIncreasing your protein intake with vegan protein powders is much better for you than drinking whey protein. They not only provide all of the amino acids you need but are also loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and all of the things you need to stay healthy and provide health benefits.

When transitioning to a vegan diet, I recommend increasing protein intake slightly, especially if you’re in an active weight loss phase. This will help retain muscle mass and boost fat loss – exactly what you want.

Vegan protein powders have many benefits due to their natural ingredients and composition. Unlike whey protein which significantly boosts IGF-1, the effect is much milder. We don’t want our IGF-1 too low, nor do we want it to sky-rocket either.

A long time ago I used to frequently drink whey protein. It was convenient, tasted nice, and was easy on my stomach. I never had too many problems with it, to be honest. I later became vegan, so out went the whey protein.

I stopped drinking protein shakes for a long time after that, and just mainly got my protein from beans, peas, soy milk and a few other foods. But after I a while of having limited protein intake, I wasn’t feeling my best.

I don’t know exactly what it was, maybe my IGF-1 level dropped too low. I mean, it’s possible because I also eat a low-calorie diet. But more recently, I began increasing my protein intake again by using vegan protein shakes and including more high protein foods in my diet.

Now, I don’t go crazy or anything, but I try to keep my protein intake between 15-20% of my calorie intake, whereas before it was as low as 10%.

Anyway, here’s a few reasons why you should consider a vegan protein drink and also some of the benefits.

Plant-based protein powder benefits

woman blending a plant-based protein supplement

Below are nine reasons why drinking a vegan powder may benefit your health.

1. Less hassle

Sometimes there are days when you just don’t want to eat certain foods. I get like that sometimes, and so I’ll change things up.

Normally I’ll combine certain foods to have all of the essential amino acids or at least most of them in my meal, but of course, this can take a bit of planning and effort, especially if you’re new to this lifestyle.

The great thing about ready-made protein drinks is they usually contain all of the essential amino acids anyway. So making it simple and easy for you and providing your body and muscles everything it needs to repair and grow.

And on the plus side, your friends and family might think you’re a little more normal when you’re not counting amino acid targets for the day.

2. Nutritional powerhouse

Have you ever carefully read and looked at the label of these protein drinks? Many of the best ones are loaded with plant-based protein sources, greens, fruits, herbs, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and omega 3 fatty acids from algal oil.

These all-natural, plant-based protein powders pack in lots of nutrition quickly and providing more antioxidants than most people would probably get in a week.

They are healthy, tasty, and convenient for vegans to boost their protein intake and get in more healthy nutrition.

There is also a lot of variety too. There are vegan protein drinks with no stevia or even protein drinks without soy.

So if you don’t want a certain ingredient or protein, you’ll probably be able to find it no problem.

3. Healthier than whey

There are many issues with whey protein, but one of the main drawbacks is the hormones present in whey protein drinks, even if they are in relatively small amounts.

And not only that, whey protein has significant effects on increasing IGF-1, and these can have a negative long-term impact on health and even longevity. Yes we do need IGF-1 to build muscle, but we don’t need it in excessive amounts.

Other conditions such as acne can also be aggravated by elevated levels of IGF-1.

When I had bad acne many years ago, I was always drinking milk and whey protein. I wish I had known what I know now.

You’ll also be getting a variety of different sources of protein, unlike many whey proteins. You’ll often find ingredients like peas, rice, soy, hemp, chia seed and other protein sources.

And if you’re a bodybuilder, and you succeed in building muscle on a plant-based diet, then you may inspire other people like you to take up a vegan diet. A lot of people don’t think that vegans can be strong and powerful.

4. Cardiovascular health

Heart disease is a worry for most people. It’s very likely that you know someone who has been affected by heart disease, either a family or a friend. I have fundraised for heart disease research, so I know the impact it can have on people’s lives.

Fortunately, heart disease is one of those conditions that can be largely prevented by making the right choices. When it comes to diet, there is a lot of debate about which foods really are contributing to heart disease.

But here’s what we do know: a plant-based diet which is low in saturated fat and sodium can reduce the rates of heart disease.

Now, because protein drinks are full of fiber, plant sterols, phytonutrients, as well as minerals like potassium, magnesium, calcium, these will benefit you in the following ways:

  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Decrease oxidative stress
  • Lower stress and cortisol levels

Vegan protein drinks are heart healthy and a great supplement to any diet whether it is vegan or not.

5. Faster recovery time

If you’re an athlete, bodybuilder or just very active, taking a protein powder supplement can help supply your muscles with the nutrients it needs to recover. Faster recovery time important for any person who is training intensely.

During training, injuries can happen, requiring some time out. Providing the body with adequate protein intake during these times may help shorten the period of time it takes to recover from muscle and tendon injuries.

This study shows that rice protein and whey protein were comparable for improving body composition and exercise performance.

6. Improved gut health

The microbiome and how it affects health is a hot topic right now. All of the research in recent years is converging to one conclusion: we have to take care of our gut bacteria if we want to stay healthy and live longer.

The great thing about plant-based protein shakes is that they contain all the right stuff that will keep your good bacteria happy and create insufferable conditions for those nasty bugs that want to do you harm.

Most vegan protein powders that you can find will contain lots of prebiotics which help feed healthy bacteria and allow them to flourish. And some products will also contain large doses of probiotics to help improve digestion and boost levels of healthy bacteria.

The fiber that you’ll be getting with these drinks will also help improve your digestive health, remove toxins from the colon and may help prevent inflammation.

Many people also report that plant-based vegan shakes are easier on the stomach and don’t give them the kind of discomfort, flatulence and other stomach issues that a lot of people get with whey protein.

7. Clean and natural

Companies ought to know what people want from their products. It’s probably no surprise to you that the vast majority of protein powders often provide organic ingredients, don’t contain any artificial ingredients, GMO products, or ingredients which may be harmful to human health.

Many of the protein powders for vegans are also free from ingredients which may cause allergies such as gluten, wheat, soy, dairy etc.

I feel that many vegan brands in particular really care about their customers and make more of an effort to develop pure, natural, and whole food products which aren’t tainted by bad stuff.

8. Low in calories

Calories matter, but plant protein powders contain mostly natural ingredients like fruits and vegetables, so the shakes are usually quite low in calories.

Unless you’re going for a meal replacement drink, which typically has a larger number of calories per serving, you can enjoy these drinks without being worried about excess calorie intake.

And most of those calories will come from protein. I find that on average, vegan shakes usually have around 20-25 grams of protein per serving.

9. Environmentally friendly

Last but not least, you’re also doing the environment and animals a favor. I became a vegan initially for the health reasons, mainly, but even before that, I was vegetarian for a long time. I can’t say I’m the perfect vegan, but I do my best. I am strictly vegetarian, though.

By choosing plant-based drinks over animal products you’re making a statement, you’re helping your health, and you’re helping the animals.

Choosing vegan options is more sustainable in the long term and is ethically the better option in my opinion.

What Is The Best DIM Supplement Without Soy

Diindolylmethane or otherwise known as DIM is a compound which is formed in the body when you consume cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, kale, and brussel sprouts. DIM has been studied for its numerous health benefits and hormone-balancing effects in the body.

Now, if you’re searching for a DIM supplement, I’d imagine you probably know a little about this amazing compound and what it could do for you.

Before I share a few DIM supplements without soy, I’d like to talk a little about the health benefits because there has been years of research on this compound and has some very important benefits you should know about.

Health Benefits of DIM

diindolylmethane benefits

DIM appears to have multiple biological activities whereby it improves human health, and research over the last few years have confirmed why we should all be eating more cruciferous vegetables or taking a DIM supplement.

The main reasons for getting more DIM include the following

  • Fights cancer – It may protect against hormone-dependent cancers by impacting estrogen metabolism in a positive way.
  • Potent anti-viral – Appears to have significant anti-viral effects against the HPV virus and may help women with cervical dysplasia.
  • Increase bone mass – Studies show that DIM may help increase bone mass by suppressing bone reabsorption.
  • Boost immune system – Has been shown to elevate immune cells involved in the killing of virally infected cells and cancer cells.
  • Balances out hormones – Helps remove harmful xenoestrogens from the body and maintain a normal level of good estrogen as well as free testosterone in men.
  • Potent anti-inflammatory – Able to suppress the release of several pro-inflammatory cytokines which lead to chronic inflammation in the body.
  • Improve acne – Due to its hormone balancing effects, DIM may help improve acne. However, most of this evidence is anecdotal (see acne.org).
  • Prostate diseases –  According to research, DIM may be beneficial for men with BPH, which is enlargement of the prostate.

Choosing a DIM supplement which is Soy Free

When you’re trying to balance out your hormones, it’s not unusual to also want a supplement that doesn’t contain any soy.

One of the reasons for this is the controversy around soy and its effect on hormones in both men and women. And of course, it also contains phytoestrogens which do have biological effects in the body.

So now let’s take a look a 3 good DIM supplements which have no soy in them.

#1. DIM Supplement with BioPerine – No Soy and Vegan-friendly

One of the most popular DIM supplements is from Smoky Mountain Naturals.

It was created for helping both men and women deal with hormone related issues by corrective estrogen dominance, which can lead to negative health effects.

For women: the supplement was designed to help with menopause symptoms and PCOS. And as a benefit of resolving hormone imbalance, helping women shift excess body fat.

For men: Men can benefit from taking this supplement because it helps block the enzyme which is responsible for the conversion of testosterone into estrogen. This can be a problem for aging men in particular.

It also helps boost testosterone naturally, and this, in turn, will help improve muscle mass, especially if combined with weight lifting exercise.

Acne fighter: Hormonal acne can affect both men and women, but DIM is able to balance out hormones and reduce oil production in the skin which leads to blocked pores and spots.

Features: This supplement contains 200 mg of DIM, which is as much as you’d get from eating around two pounds of cruciferous vegetables. To increase absorption, they’ve also added BioPerine, so you get more out of the supplement.

Another great benefit is that the supplement is cruelty-free, suitable for vegetarians and vegans, and doesn’t contain any gluten, dairy or soy.

They also have another supplement available which contains many other synergistic ingredients.

Contains: 200 mg Diindolylmethane .

See reviews and current price.


#2. JAZZEE Naturals DIM Supplement with Bioperine  – No Soy and Vegan-friendly

If you’re on a budget and want something which will last you a long time, then this supplement fantastic value. You get 120 capsules per bottle which will last you 4 months.

They’ve kept the supplement pretty basic with just three main ingredients: DIM (250 mg), Broccoli extract (100 mg) and BioPerine (10mg) to help improve absorption.

Compared to the previous supplement it contains 4 x the Bioperine, further increasing the value because you’ll be able to absorb more Diindolylmethane.

It’s great they also added broccoli extract in the supplement because broccoli contains many other beneficial phytochemicals and nutrients which are beneficial to health.

This supplement is great for men and women who are looking for a high-quality DIM supplement to take.

Features: Jazzee Natural DIM has many good things about it. It is organically stabilized, meaning you get none of the chemical fillers and artificial ingredients. It’s also manufactured in an FDA certified facility, so you can expect good quality control.

The supplement is also good for people with common allergies because it’s free from gluten, soy, milk, eggs, fish and tree nuts.

Contains: 250 mg Diindolylmethane.

See reviews and current price.


#3. Optimal DIM Supplement for Estrogen Balance – No Soy and Vegan-friendly

A DIM supplement containing many other natural ingredients is what caught my eye. It contains several cruciferous vegetable extracts such as broccoli sprout, organic brussels sprout, organic kale leaf, and organic cauliflower head.

It also adds in its own proprietary absorption complex to help increase absorption of Diindolylmethane.

Optimal DIM was created to help people fight weight gain caused by hormone balance, hormonal acne, improve energy, and to improve estrogen metabolism in women and men.

You get 200 mg of DIM, which is comparable to the previous two supplements, but only two months supply.

What I really like about this supplement is that it contains organic and natural ingredients, and also goes for a more holistic approach by including several cruciferous vegetable extracts.

Features: contains a proprietary blend of ingredients to boost absorption in the stomach and therefore you get more for your money. It also made in a GMP facility and is 3rd party tested, so you know what you’re getting.

The supplement is also free from many problematic ingredients like dairy, wheat, nuts, soy, gelatin, eggs, and shellfish. And free from preservatives.

A great premium-grade supplement for everyone.

Contains: 200 mg Diindolylmethane.

See reviews and current price.


DIM Dosage Recommendations

DIM is generally safe to take and has been tested in clinical trials in humans for its effects on prevention and treating disease, as well as looking at any potential toxic effects

Doses of up to 300 mg appear to be safe according to some clinical trials [1]. Due to insufficient data on safety, it is not recommended that you take doses higher than 300 mg.

Diindolylmethane (DIM) is NOT recommended for children.

Bromelain Benefits for Skin Care

When you eat pineapples you’re also consuming a powerful enzyme known as bromelain. It’s assumed that this enzyme would not survive intact through the gut, but it does, and it’s absorbed by the body where it can do its magic in speeding up healing and improving your skin.

Pineapples are available all throughout the year, but I normally enjoy them in the summertime. I will either mix pineapple with other fruit or better throw some in a smoothie.

If you ever use pineapple in a smoothie, let the smoothie sit in the freezer after you bit! It’s tastes much better.

What is bromelain?

Bromelain is found in pineapples and part of a group of enzymes which can be found in pineapples and other fruits.

It has many effects such as being a potent anti-inflammatory, antithrombotic, and fibrinolytic. Studies have also shown that it is able to increase the absorption and effectiveness of natural compounds such as quercetin as well as antibiotics like doxycycline.

Several studies over the years have shown bromelains ability to help improve human health and fight against acute and chronic conditions.

One study has shown that 40% of bromelain ingested is absorbed from the intestine and retains its proteolytic activity in plasma and has a half-life of 6-9 hours. [1]

Studies have shown that bromelain is also extremely safe in humans when taken as a supplement.

pineapple contains enzymes which help skin inflammation

Bromelain has been clinically tested in many different areas of medicine such as:

  • Trauma
  • Orthopedics
  • Sports medicine
  • Dentistry
  • Plastic surgery
  • Hematology
  • Otolaryngology
  • Allergy/Immunology (bromelain helps reduce allergy symptoms)

Bromelain improves skin healing

As already mentioned, bromelain has significant anti-inflammatory effects and these have been documented in several clinical trials.

Bromelain is effective because of the following reasons:

  • Bromelain inhibits excessive inflammation and pro-inflammatory cytokines which may impair the healing process of the skin
  • Bromelain is able to reduce edema
  • Bromelain can improve the effectiveness of antibiotics and may be useful in improving recovery time and wound care
  • Bromelain is able to help improve debridement of wounds which have the necrotic tissue in infections and burns

The evidence

Although consuming bromelain either by eating pineapples or taking a supplement may benefit the skin, there is no better way to than to apply bromelain to the skin to deliver higher concentrations of the enzyme and to make it more effective.

Treatment of burns

Multiple studies have shown that proteolytic enzymes such as bromelain are able to significantly reduce the amount of time it takes for wounds to heal and close

In a study published in 2017, researchers took 26 subjects who were aged between 18 – 78 years and had suffered from facial burns.

Enzymatic debridement resulted in a much faster healing time compared to the group that used standard treatment.

The group who received bromelain treatment had their wounds close in 19 days compared to 42 days for the standard surgical debridement. Scar quality was also superior by the end of 12 months in the bromelain group.

In an earlier study published in 2014, researchers used bromelain for debridement of deep wounds. As with the previous study I mentioned, they showed significant results for the treatment group.

NXB cream, which contained bromelain, reduced the time to complete debridement. The results were 2.2 days for treatment vs 8.7 days for standard treatment.

The need for surgery was also much less at 24.5% for the bromelain group and 70% for standard treatment.

Plastic and facial reconstructive surgery

If you’re choosing to have a facelift or you need to get surgery on your face, you probably want the redness, swelling, and discomfort to go away pretty quickly.

This time, a study used a supplement containing vitamin C, grapeseed extract, and bromelain to see if it could improve healing time in healthy patients who had reconstructive surgery.

Over a period of seven days, patients were given four capsules per day. Out of the twenty-two patients who completed the trials, seventeen of them responded to the supplement with improvements in healing.

The supplement containing bromelain helped speed up healing time by 17 percent.

The wounds showed less inflammation and less redness overall. You can check out the study here.

Skin diseases

Bromelain may be able to effectively treat some chronic skin conditions because of its anti-inflammatory, immune modulating effects, and anti-viral effects.

A skin condition called Pityriasis lichenoides chronica, which is characterized by small raised red spots or papules on the skin surface as well as significant scaling can be treated using bromelain.

In a study published in 2007, eight patients who had PLC were treated with bromelain for three months (40 mg, three times per day for 1 month) were all cured by taking bromelain.

How to use bromelain

As already mentioned, bromelain is effective when either taken as a supplement or applied directly to the skin.

There are many bromelain supplements to choose from at varying doses, these are usually measured in GDU (gelatin digesting units) per gram. Most supplements provide between 1000 to 3000 GDU.

Bromelain may also be included as an ingredient in face masks and facial cleansers. Here’s a vegan facial cleanser which contains both papaya and pineapple enzyme to help remove dead skin cells, reduce inflammation of the skin and provide a glowing complexion.

There are also many youtube videos showing how you can create your own pineapple face mask. Although this might be beneficial due to the vitamins, bromelain and other ingreidents in pineapple, the amount of bromelain that will be delivered to the skin will be minimal.

Conclusion

Natural enzymes found in fruits can be useful as an adjunctive treatment with medical treatment or even be useful by itself in some cases. Bromelain has many beneficial effects which go beyond its ability to improve skin wound healing. It certainly deserves more recognition for its healing properties.

Best Tocotrienol Supplement

palm oil is the best source of tocotrienols

Vitamin E has powerful free radical scavenging abilities and acts as a powerful antioxidant when consumed and applied directly to the skin. Tocotrienols are one part of the vitamin E family but represent a small fraction of the vitamin E found in commonly consumed foods. The best way to get a high level of tocotrienols in the diet is to supplement.

Typically, you would get a small number of different tocotrienols from sources such as vegetable oils, nuts, grains, wheat germ and barley. In these foods, there are four types of tocotrienols, just like their tocopherol counterparts.

Research suggests that tocotrienols possess strong anti-inflammatory effects by modulating key parts of the immune system, which may also be part of the reason why it’s effective at protecting against heart disease.

It’s also been discovered from research that tocotrienols may benefit neurodegenerative diseases, cancer, diabetes and even hair loss in men. And that they may be even more effective than tocopherols for protecting against these diseases.

Below is a list of the best tocotrienol supplements which are also suitable for vegans and vegetarians (see more below).

  1. Palm fruit tocotrienol supplement (vegan-friendy)
  2. Vitacost Vitamin E and Tocotrienol Complex supplement (Vegan-friendly)
  3. Deva Vegan Tocotrienol supplement

What are tocotrienols?

Tocotrienols consist of four types: alpha, beta, gamma, and delta. Tocotrienols are unsaturated and lipophilic in nature. This means that unlike tocopherols, they are better at penetrating deep into tissue which has dense layers of saturated fatty acids.

According to studies, alpha-tocotrienol is between 40 – 60 fold more potent than alpha-tocopherol for dealing with lipid peroxidation. So by getting more tocotrienols into your diet, you’ll be protecting the integrity of your cells from the ravaging effects of lipid peroxidation and cell death.

Two of the highest sources of tocotrienols are Palm oil (940 mg per kg) and Rice bran oil (465 mg per kg). Much smaller amounts can be found in other oils such as olive oil, flaxseed oil, grapefruit seed oil, poppy seed oil and sunflower oil. [1]

Consider how much of these oils you would have to use per day in order to get the equivalent of what you can get in a supplement which provides over 100 mg of tocotrienols.

You would have to eat a ridiculous amount of calories and perhaps negate any of the beneficial effects you’d get from these tocotrienols molecules.

So now let’s a have a look at some of the most potent tocotrienol formulations.

Benefits of tocotrienols

There are many benefits of taking this form of Vitamin E, but here’s a quick list!

  • Skin benefits – Due to the ability of tocotrienols to go deeply into tissue and the skin, they are able to mop up free radicals to prevent the degradation of collagen and fats which will help you maintain a more youthful and wrinkle-free appearance. Tocotrienols also help reduce damaging effects of UVA and UVB rays from the sun.
  • Hair benefits – Studies have shown that men who take 100 mg a day of tocotrienols have a 34% increase in hair growth over an 8 month period compared to men who suffer from androgenetic alopecia and do not take it. So if you want thicker and fuller hair, tocotrienols might be worth taking!
  • Cardiovascular health benefits – Heart disease is one of the biggest killers in the world and as the population ages, the number of people affected will increase over time. Tocotrienols could be a powerful supplement to help protect against dyslipidemia (high cholesterol) and reduce the risk of age-related cardiovascular disease in men and women. [2]
  • Anti-inflammatory benefits – Tocotrienols have been found to suppress levels of highly potent pro-inflammatory cytokines and mediators which are responsible for heart disease, cancer, inflammatory skin conditions, allergies etc. Chronic low-level inflammation is also something which increases with age, and research suggests that tocotrienols may help reduce this low-level inflammation in the body.

These are just a few of the main benefits from taking vitamin E in the form of tocotrienols. And what’s great is that tocotrienols also have an amazing safety record. Studies have shown that even high doses of 1000 mg/day has been found to be safe in humans.

Tocotrienol Supplements

Below are 3 high-quality, vegan, tocotrienol supplements to choose from.

#1. Palm fruit tocotrienol supplement for skin, health, hair and sun protection (Vegan-friendly)

Palm oil is one of the best sources of tocotrienols you can find, so naturally, a supplement derived from palm oil would be the best way to extract this vitamin E to obtain its powerful health benefits without all those excess calories.

The supplement contains just 5 Calories and 0.5 g of fat but contains significant amounts of vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene.

Altogether you’re getting 160 mg tocochromanols, which includes both types of vitamin E (tocopherol and tocotrienol) for maximum benefits.

To boost the antioxidant power of the supplement they’ve also added lycopene, which has powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects as well as Coenzyme Q10 which helps boost energy metabolism and mitochondrial function, which decreases with age.

How to take: It’s recommended that you consume this supplement with a least 5 grams of fat to help boost absorption of these fat-soluble vitamins and compounds to get the most from this supplement.

See reviews and current price.


#2. Vitacost Vitamin E and Tocotrienol Complex supplement (Vegan-friendly)

Vitacost offers a complete package with its vitamin E complex supplement at a more affordable cost than the previous tocotrienol supplement above. It’s also pretty basic and clean, so the only thing you’re getting is vitamin E, no other nutrients or compounds.

One of the main ingredients of the supplement is rice bran oil, which of course contains vitamin E.

In this vitamin E complex supplement, you’re getting 134 mg of mixed tocopherols and 16.6 mg of tocotrienols. So the amount of tocotrienols you’re getting is just over half of the palm fruit supplement.

The great benefit of this one is that it’s more affordable, but for that, you’re getting a significantly lower dose of vitamin E.

The supplement does contain soy, so if you are allergic or are avoiding soy products, then perhaps this one isn’t for you.

How to take: Take one capsule per day with a meal for best absorption.

See reviews and current price.


#3. Deva Vegan Tocotrienol supplement

Deva vegan supplement is a soy free and non-GMO supplement for vegans who want to boost their intake of vitamin E but are on a budget.

Rather than providing a large amount of tocopherol vitamin E complex, they’ve gone with providing a high dose of mixed tocotrienols derived from sources such as virgin crude palm oil, using a mild molecular distillation method to extract the nutrients, which also includes phytosterols, CQ10 which are present in palm oil.

Also always, you can be 100% confident that what you buy from DEVA is suitable for both vegetarians and vegans alike.

As my third recommendation, by no means is this worse than the previous two. One reason you might want to consider this supplement over the other two is that it’s cheap and it contains mostly tocotrienols.

So if you already have plenty of tocopherols in your diet or from a supplement, then this would be a great option.

How to take: Take one capsule per day with a meal for maximum absorption.

See reviews and current price.


Conclusion

Tocotrienols are unique and powerful antioxidants with many potential health benefits, but cannot be obtained from the diet in sufficient amounts to have a big impact on health.

Vitamin E supplements provide an excellent and convenient way of getting either a mix of tocopherols and tocotrienols or just tocotrienols by themselves.

I recommend that you get a mix in your diet, as each provides unique benefits for health and well-being.

Vegan Alternative to Fish oil (Foods and Supplements)

Algae omega 3 without carrageenan
Click to see alternative omega 3 supplement

When fish oils are off the menu, we have to replace those important omega-3 fatty acids in our diet somehow. They have numerous health benefits from preventing heart disease to improving cognitive health. Finding an alternative to fish oil can be easy if you know the right foods and supplement to take.

You see, when you eat fish, you are getting EPA and DHA straight up, there is no conversion process that needs to happen in the body. That can’t be said for plant-based sources of omega 3, which have to be consumed and then undergo a conversion process.

And that’s the rub, this can vary from person to person depending on several factors, one of the most important ones being the sex of the person. Females can just do the conversion much better than males since the enzyme required is in higher amounts.

There are actually good reasons for this, one of them being the fact that babies require high levels of DHA which is important for the development of a healthy brain and vision.

But don’t worry! We can certainly get some benefit from eating foods high in alpha-linolenic acid which is converted to EPA and also DHA in smaller amounts.

In fact, one study shows that although 20% of ALA can be converted to EPA, only 0.5% of ALA gets converted to DHA.

There are also supplements available which derive omega 3 from algal oil and give you EPA and DHA and has been proven to be as good as fish oil for absorption.

So if you want a higher intake of DHA, you will have to supplement if you’re on a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Plant-sources of Omega 3 for Vegans

Below are many alternatives to fish oil if you want to increase your intake of omega 3!

1. Algae (supplements)

In recent years, algal oil has become really popular with vegans who are looking for an omega 3 supplement which is on par with fish oil but without the fishy taste or cruelty and environmental impacts of fishing.

There are many different supplements available now for vegans which contain both EPA and DHA or just DHA by itself.

You can also find algae supplements without carrageenan. This common ingredient used in many different foods, products and, supplements, is thought to be harmful to health according to some research.

Not all omega 3 supplements which contain algal oil for omega 3 is vegetarian or vegan, so be sure to check the label first. But for your convenience, I’ve researched and listed all vegan-friendly omega 3 supplements in the articles linked above.

Algae is the best vegan-friendly omega 3 that you can use. That’s why I put this as number one on the list.

2. Walnuts

Walnuts are an excellent source of healthy fats such as monounsaturated fat and omega 3 in the form of alpha-linolenic acid. Just 30 grams or 1/4 of a cup of walnuts will provide you with around 113% of the DRI for omega 3.

Walnuts have been found to have plenty of health-promoting benefits such as protection against diabetes and metabolic syndrome, anti-cancer, heart-protective and sleep-promoting benefits due to their melatonin content.

Research has shown that just eating 4 walnuts a day can increase levels of ALA in the blood, which can then be converted to EPA and DHA.

Walnuts also contain significant amounts of potassium, calcium, and magnesium, all of which are important for cardiovascular health.

Walnuts are a tasty little treat which can be eaten by themselves, mixed with fruit, yogurt or other foods.

3. Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are a popular superfood among vegans and have many benefits associated with them such as helping promote healthy hair and skin, reducing the risk of heart disease and reducing the risk of diabetes.

They have a slightly nutty taste, but it’s mild enough and they can be added to many dishes. You can even blend them and add them to your favorite smoothies.

In just one tablespoon, chia seeds can provide you with around 2500 mg of omega 3! Making them one of the best vegan sources of omega 3 after algae.

The best way to absorb the most nutrients from chia seeds is to soak them in water first and then leave them for up to 2 hours or so.

They are nutrient dense providing significant amounts of manganese, calcium, zinc, copper, and potassium.

4. Flaxseeds

Flaxseeds, also known as linseeds, contain a high level of alpha-linolenic acid. They are also an excellent source of fiber and magnesium.

One of the best ways to unlock the nutrients of flaxseeds is to grind them. Ground flaxseeds will provide you with around 1500 mg of omega 3 in just one tablespoon.

Flaxseeds have been shown to be beneficial in studies for helping with skin and hair, treating high cholesterol by increasing the amount of fat excreted and trapping bile because of its soluble fiber content.

Flaxseeds are also a good source of phytoestrogens. These mainly act on the beta receptor and may help prevent breast cancer and also improve postmenopausal symptoms in women.

Including flaxseeds in your diet every day to enjoy the benefits and boost your omega 3 intake!

5. Soy

Soy products contain omega 3, and soy milk may also be fortified with extra omega 3 derived from algal oil.

Eating around 1/2 a cup of soy nuts can provide you with around 75% of your recommended daily intake of omega 3.

Of course, just like almost all other plant-sources of omega 3, this comes in the form of ALA and has to be converted by the body to DHA and EPA.

Other sources of omega 3

Below is a short list of other sources of omega 3 on a vegan diet

  • Winter Squash
  • Radish
  • Wheat germ
  • Navy beans
  • Black eyes peas
  • Tofu
  • Almonds
  • Hemp seeds
  • Canola oil
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Soybean oil
  • Walnut oil

Check out Tirza’s video on getting omega 3 if you’re on a low-fat vegan diet. 🙂

How much ALA should we get from our diet?

As already mentioned, ALA is converted poorly to both EPA and DHA, but eating foods which contain these fatty acids can still have a significant impact on health and mean that we don’t have to spend as much on supplements to get that bit extra we need.

There have been several clinical trials looking at how much ALA we need to consume before we can raise levels significantly in our blood.

Results from one study showed that a dose of 2.4 to 3.6 of flaxseed oil is able to raise levels of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) but not DHA (study).

This is obtaining from food sources if eaten on a consistent basis, but to increase levels of DHA you will need to take omega 3 supplements.

How To Moisturize Your Skin From The Inside Out

I’m a fan of skin products, but I know from experience that good skin health starts from the inside first. The foods we put into our mouth can really have a drastic impact on the way we look and how soft and moisturized the skin feels.

Having dry skin can cause all sorts of problems like redness, itching, flaking and even accelerate the rate at which the skin ages.

Rather than simply slathering on the moisturizer multiple times every day, how about helping your body produce more natural oils and increasing skin lipids to keep the skin well hydrated and moisturized.

So what’s a simple way to improve skin moisture?

A plant-based diet rich in foods like avocados, kale, sweet potatoes, soy, cocoa, walnuts can really help moisturize the skin from the inside to create a glowing complexion.

Causes of dry skin

Rather than simply trying to cover up a symptom, it would be better to deal with the underlying issue which is causing the skin to become dry in the first place.

In some cases, the fix might be simply correcting a deficiency in a mineral or a vitamin, but in other cases, the problem might be a bit more complex so you will need to take a more broad approach.

The main causes of skin dryness are the following:

  • Dehydration (you’re simply not drinking enough water)
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Mineral or vitamin deficiency
  • Low intake of omega 3 from the diet (especially important if you’re a vegetarian or vegan to choose the right foods or omega 3 supplements)
  • Low sex hormones
  • Eczema
  • Psoriasis
  • Genetics
  • Using harsh body washes or soap too often
  • Use of skincare products like retinol
  • Dry air
  • Intense exercise

Once you’ve identified the cause of dry skin, you can address those issues and then skin dryness may improve. However, there are always things we can do to boost our skin moisture levels by changing the foods we eat!

8 easy ways you can keep skin moisturized

Below are eight easy steps you can take to help keep your skin soft, moisturized and youthful.

1. Avocado

Avocado is mostly fat, but the good kind that you want in your diet. It is made up of primarily monounsaturated fats which are healthy for the heart and for your skin.

In fact, studies have shown that high intakes of monounsaturated fat in the diet has been linked with less skin wrinkling and aging.

Avocado also contains a fat called alpha-linolenic acid which is converted to omega 3 fatty acids in the body.

In both men and women (more so women), ALA can be converted into both EPA and DHA. It’s is EPA that is responsible for increased lipids in the skin which will help keep your skin soft, supple, and glowing!

2. Kale

Kale is a leafy green of the brassica family of vegetables and is a powerhouse when it comes to its nutritional profile.

It contains several carotenoids, one of being lutein (20 mg per cup). Studies have shown that lutein is a powerful antioxidant which is absorbed and accumulates in the skin where it can improve skin health.

In one study, researchers gave a lutein supplement to volunteers for 12 weeks and they measured various skin parameters.

The group who received the lutein has significantly less lipid peroxidation relative to the placebo group.

Skin lipids were also significantly increased by lutein. They saw a 46% in skin lipid levels from just oral lutein alone, but it was a 63% increase when combined with topical lutein.

There was a huge improvement in skin hydration of the lutein group by almost 60%. [1]

The subjects received just 10 mg of lutein per day to achieve these effects. So drinking a kale smoothie or adding some kale to your smoothies should be an easy way for you to improve skin moisture and hydration.

3. Okinawan purple sweet potato

For some people, purple sweet potatoes might be hard to come across, but if you have them at your local supermarket, then maybe you should give them a try.

Sweet potatoes are rich in antioxidants like beta-carotene, which help reduce immunosuppression, inflammation and skin dryness from UV rays exposure.

They also contain hyaluronic acid which is absorbed and distributed throughout the body, including the skin, where it can help boost water content and skin hydration.

If you can’t find purple sweet potatoes at the store, then regular sweet potatoes will also be fine.

It might be also worth checking out skin serums which contain hyaluronic acid.

4. Chocolate (cocoa)

How about some hot chocolate to help improve skin hydration?

Well, one study published in 2007 showed that regular consumption of flavanol-rich cocoa was able to significantly improve dermal blood flow, oxygen level, and skin hydration

The study also found that after 12 weeks there was increased protection against UV-induced erythema and skin roughness and scaling were significantly decreased. [2]

I don’t know about you, but I love hot chocolate! So I’m happy about this one.

5. Beans and Legumes

One cause of skin dryness is a zinc deficiency. You don’t have to have a frank deficiency of zinc to be affected by dry skin due to inadequate zinc intake.

Even having a mild deficiency can cause skin dryness, and people who are more likely to be affected are those on low-calorie diets, strict diets such as vegetarians or vegans.

Beans and legumes are one source of zinc, but one should aim for a variety of food high in zinc such as cashews, oats, and pumpkin seeds.

If you’re still not getting enough zinc, then I highly recommend people on a high plant-based and those who are vegan to supplement when necessary.

See my story on how I overcome zinc deficiency and how it affected my skin by going here.

6. Increased intake of water and low caffeine beverages

Who would have thought that by drinking more water, your skin would be better hydrated?

It’s not rocket science, but many people fail to drink enough water to be fully hydrated during the day. You should be drinking around 6-8 glasses of water a day or drinks which are low in caffeine or caffeine free.

To show that consuming extra water improves deep skin hydration, researchers looked at studies and found that people who consumed more water had increased deep skin hydration, especially if they had low water consumption initially [3].

Researchers noted improvements in skin softness, smoothness and skin moisture level.

Most of my water intake actually comes from green tea which is low in caffeine. Green tea also has beneficial polyphenols which also improve skin health and elasticity.

7. Soybeans

Many studies have shown that drinking soymilk or eating soy products can have beneficial effects on skin health and improve skin moisture levels in both premenopausal and postmenopausal women.

It’s thought that the reason for these improved in skin hydration is related to the phytoestrogens found in soy and also phosphatidylserine. [4]

Why not try using soy milk for some hot chocolate?

8. Cucumbers

Cucumbers contain a high amount of water and great to add to sandwiches, salads, vegan burgers, or whatever you like.

They are high in silica, which is important for skin health and keeping the skin looking young.

Cucumbers are great for your skin whether they are eaten or placed on the skin to help reduce puffiness and irritated skin.

How long will it take to see improvements?

The skin is always constantly regenerating, and much of this process takes place when we go to bed at night. Therefore it is crucial that you get enough sleep if you want your skin to look its best.

By making these changes to your diet and routine, you should start to notice improvements in skin hydration within 4 weeks, but you should give it at least 12 weeks or more to really see a positive effect.

Obviously, if you’re not drinking enough water, then simply hydrating yourself better by drinking more fluids will have a more immediate effect.

When it comes to improving skin moisture levels and skin lipids, this process can take a bit longer.

Over time, as your skin health improves, you may start seeing improvements in fine lines, skin elasticity. Your skin will start looking brighter, softer, and younger.

Improvements won’t happen overnight, but if you stay consistent and keep eating healthily, you’ll really begin to see skin improvements in no time at all.

Your skin may start to get a ‘golden glow’ if you consume enough carotenoids. This is perfectly normal and is a positive sign of health.

Conclusion

Leaving your skin dry can leave it prone to increased damage, infection, and even hasten skin aging. Having dry skin is also just not a great look.

By including these 7 things in your daily routine, you will help your skin become moisturized and soft. And as a result, you will stay looking younger for longer.