Category: supplements

Supplements Every Vegetarian Should Take

Supplements Every Vegetarian Should Consider Taking

When becoming a vegetarian or vegan, people can sometimes run into problems from lacking different vitamins and minerals that are usually present in animal products. There are certain supplements every vegetarian should take or consider taking if they are planning to do this diet for the long term.

I’ve been involved in various online health communities and forums in the last 14 years and I’ve noticed a lot of misinformation around nutrition and the need for supplements. People try so hard to become 100% natural, they neglect the real and dangerous pitfalls of abstaining from certain food groups. Deficiencies can sometimes take a long time to develop because the body can store things like vitamin B12 and so it takes a while before stores are depleted.

What Vitamins Do Vegetarians Need To Take?

Vitamin B12  This vitamin is important for a wide range of functions in the body and becoming deficient in it can have permanent consequences to your health. Low levels of vitamin B12 on a vegetarian or vegan diet might also increase the risk of heart disease by raising levels of homocysteine. The protection again heart disease offered by going vegetarian might be reversed by not getting enough B12.

In one study researchers discovered that 52% of vegans, 7% of vegetarians and 1% of omnivores were deficient (1). However, in another study they found elevated levels of methylmalonic acid (MMA) in 68% of vegetarians and 92%! of vegans; while only 16% of omnivores had elevated levels of MMA. (2).

If you are eating a diet that excludes animal products, you should take a vitamin B12 supplement and choose sublingual methylcobalamin. Vitamin B12 is a supplement every vegetarian and vegan should take as it is one of the most dangerous deficiencies you can develop on this lifestyle, and one of the most reported in these groups.

Symptoms of B12 deficiency include: tiredness, shortness of breath, sore tongue, tingling, numbness, neurological dysfunction, poor memory, permanent nerve damage, vision loss and more.

I’ve put vitamin B12 at the top of the list because I believe it is the most important and overlooked vitamin deficiency for vegetarians and vegans. Everyone eating a vegetarian and vegan diet should take vitamin B12. If you’re not already taking a B12 supplement and you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you should start supplementing it.

Vitamin D – Deficiency of Vitamin D is widespread whatever lifestyle people are doing. Avoiding foods that have Vitamin D in them, as well as not getting enough sun (especially people in the northern hemisphere and have dark skin) will cause you to be at risk of developing vitamin D deficiency or having very low levels that it negatively impacts your health.

Vegans are more likely to be affected than vegetarians, but both should consider taking a vitamin D supplement.

How much is enough? Around 1000 – 2000 IU should be sufficient to raise vitamin D levels to a healthy level in adults and is also safe in pregnant women and children. (3, 4).

Adequate levels of 25(OH)D might lower the risk of infections, cancer, autoimmune diseases, fractures, and lower the risk of heart disease. It was also reported that higher levels of vitamin D might lower the rate at which the telomere’s shorten, possibly indicating a slower rate of cell ageing.

Symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency include: muscle pain and weakness, fatigue, bone pain, difficulty in thinking clearly, depression, bone fractures, hair loss, poor immunity and more.

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin and therefore you do not have to take it every day. In fact, you could take one high dose every week or month, but I prefer to take it daily.

What Minerals Should You Take On A Vegetarian Diet?

Iron  Women are more at risk of anemia than men, but this risk is increased further by becoming vegetarian (5). Although vegetarians get a plenty of iron from plant foods, the form of iron is not absorbed as well as from animal food.  Vegetarians also tend to eat a lot of foods that are high in other things such as phytates, which can inhibit the absorption of iron. Good sources of iron include dark leafy green vegetables such as spinach and kale. Beans and peas are also good sources of this mineral.

There have been a few reports from both men and women on calorie restricted, vegetarian or vegan diet, who have been deficient in iron and developed anemia as a result. Before taking any iron supplements, I think it is best to get tested by your doctor and then consider taking iron if you need to. This is more relevant to women than men, but it is something to keep an eye on.

Symptoms of Iron deficiency include: intense fatigue and tiredness, rapid breathing, hair loss, pale skin and lips, palpitations, poor immunity and more.

Zinc – One of the things in a standard western diet that people get plenty of is Zinc. Standard western diet might contain enough Zinc, but for raw foodists, vegetarians, vegans and people who practice calorie restriction with optimal nutrition, we tend to have a lot of copper in our diets, but too little zinc. Deficiency of zinc can often be mild, and symptoms will be fairly subtle. These symptoms – to an extent – might be ameliorated by the diet itself which helps the body cope.

Use CRON-O-METER to see much zinc you are getting compared to zinc, and try to aim for a ratio of 8:1 to 10:1. So for example: for every 1 mg of copper in your diet, you want to make sure you are getting 8 mg of zinc.

Symptoms of Zinc deficiency include: acne, poor immunity, dry skin, hair loss, poor appetite, mouth ulcers and sores.

Zinc deficiency is easily correctable by taking a zinc supplement. There are many different zinc supplements you can choose from with some being better than others. I recommend trying Zinc Picolinate as it is one of the most bioavailable zinc supplements you can buy and it’s fairly easy on the stomach if you take it with some food.

I wouldn’t recommend taking this supplement continuously at such a high dose, but within a short period of time you might notice improved immune system and you’re not getting sick as often. You’ll likely feel more energy, especially if you’re low in Zinc. Some people even report having vivid dreams when taking it! I did initially but these effect only lasted a few weeks.

Iodine – Iodine is a mineral that if often forgotten, but it plays an important role in the body, especially the thyroid. Important for metabolic processes in the body and regulation of growth and energy expenditure.

In 2003 there was a study published which showed that 25% of vegetarians suffered and 80% of vegans suffered from iodine deficiency compared to just 9% of people eating a standard mixed diet (6).

Symptoms of Iodine deficiency include: lethargy and tiredness, weight gain, poor memory and difficulty concentrating on tasks. If you’re feeling colder than usual, this might be a sign. However, calorie restriction usually leads to a significant decrease in core body temperature and this will cause you to feel cold and is not a symptom of anything serious. I recommend including a thyroid test (fT3, fT4 and TSH) in your regular blood test panel.

Including sea vegetables in your diet is one solution: these include foods like kelp, kombu. Cranberries are also another food which are rich in iodine. Alternatively you could also take a supplement which contains iodine (it’s often included in many popular multivitamins).

References

1. Gilsing AM1, Crowe FL, Lloyd-Wright Z, Sanders TA, Appleby PN, Allen NE, Key TJ. Serum concentrations of vitamin B12 and folate in British male omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans: results from a cross-sectional analysis of the EPIC-Oxford cohort study

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2933506

2. Herrmann W1, Schorr H, Obeid R, Geisel J. Vitamin B-12 status, particularly holotranscobalamin II and methylmalonic acid concentrations, and hyperhomocysteinemia in vegetarians

http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/78/1/131.long

3. Joyce Maalouf, Mona Nabulsi, Reinhold Vieth, Samantha Kimball, Rola El-Rassi, Ziyad Mahfoud, and Ghada El-Hajj Fuleihan
Short- and Long-Term Safety of Weekly High-Dose Vitamin D3 Supplementation in School Children
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2729206/

4. Shahnaz Ahmad Mir, Shariq Rashid Masoodi,1 Shafia Shafi,2 Iqra Hameed,3 Maqsood Ahmad Dar,1 Mir Iftikhar Bashir,1 Arshad Iqbal Wani,1 Zaffar Amin Shah,4 Shameema Parveen,5 Abdul Hamid Zargar,1 and Parviz Ahmad Shah
Efficacy and safety of Vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy: A randomized trial of two different levels of dosing on maternal and neonatal Vitamin D outcome
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4855961/

5. Roman Pawlak, PhD, RD, Julia Berger, BS, Ian Hines, PhD. Iron Status of Vegetarian Adults. Review of Literature.

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1559827616682933

6. Krajcovicová-Kudlácková M1, Bucková K, Klimes I, Seboková E.. Iodine deficiency in vegetarians and vegans.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12748410

Beneficial Bacteria For Humans

Beneficial Bacteria For Human Health

Good bacteria in humans has beneficial effects on basically every system in the body. They regulate our immune system, mood, and may even protect us against certain cancers. There are beneficial bacteria for humans which account for a large proportion of the biomass that we have. These bacteria are made up of good and bad, and they play a significant role in the hosts body.

Gut bacteria can change depending on many different factors, such as weight gain or loss, stress, antibiotics, illness, and even simply having a bad diet can change the balance as well. Maintaining good gut health will provide you with many benefits, but these beneficial bacteria can easily be wiped out by overuse of antibiotics. Beneficial bacteria for humans are crucial for proper immune system function.

Many of the foods people consume today are loaded with sugar and devoid of any nutrition.  Good vs bad bacteria is a fight that is constantly ongoing inside the body, and it’s your job to provide the best nutrition and environment for the good bacteria to flourish and colonise, so that the bad bacteria don’t get out of control and cause disease.

What Are the Beneficial Bacteria For Humans?

The are many different strains of bacteria which are beneficial for human health, and these include: Bifidobacterium longum, Bifidobacterium lactis, Lactobacilus brevis, Lactobacillus plantarum, and Lactobacillus DDS-1. There are others which play a role in human health, but these are some of the strain which have a lot of good evidence behind their beneficial effects in the body. Probiotics like this one by healthy origins deliver all of these and more in a huge dose of 30 billion colony forming units.

Calorie Restriction And Improved Microbiome

When I began eating healthily, one of the first effects of the diet was on my digestive system. At first weird things were happening, and I could tell things were changing. All my life I had suffered from a condition known as irritable bowel syndrome, and doctors never really suggested anything useful. They never informed me that my diet could be the cause of this problem.

Fast forward a few months after beginning the diet and my gut health was the best it had ever been. I no longer was suffering from any stomach problems, and a host of other issue cleared up as well, including my severe hay fever allergy which I had for years. It wasn’t a coincidence, it was my diet.

Calorie restriction has been found to improve gut bacteria in mice and dogs, whilst studies looking at obesity in humans have shown a negative effect on gut health. A shift towards a better balance of good bacteria is thought to be just one of the reasons calorie restriction extends lifespan. People who live to 100 have very good microbiome ecosystems. Simply put, they have better gut health.

Gut bacteria plays a huge role in our health

  • Supplying essential nutrients
  • Aiding digestion and gut health
  • Keeping the immune system healthy
  • Mental health
  • Skin Health
  • Longevity

I’ve mentioned before that I have been prone to UTI infections when I was younger, and that once a person gets one, it is 50/50 whether or not you will get another one. I don’t suffer from them anymore, but I did have to take low dose antibiotics for years because of repeated bladder infections, most likely from prostatitis. At times, especially on high doses of doxycycline, during an active infection, I felt increased anxiety, which seemed to be alleviated by taking probiotics.

These side effects from antibiotics seemed to be prevented once I introduced probiotics into my supplement stack. And also, the best way to boost immune system after antibiotics is to take probiotics to put friendly bacteria back into the body.

What Is The Best Brobiotic Supplement To Take?

I’ve tried out many different probiotics with varying levels of success. The one that I felt made the biggest difference was the probiotic made by Healthy Origins.

This supplement contains 8 different strains which are resistant to stomach acid, so you can just add to some food or an empty stomach. I store them in them in the fridge as recommended. I don’t take throughout the year, but every now and then I do think it’s beneficial to add a probiotic supplement, especially if you’re going through a lot of stress, lack sleep or have been sick.

Blend of 8 Probiotic Strains 30 Billion Colony-forming units

Lactobacillus acidophilus (La-14) 12 Billion
Bifidobacterium lactis (BI-04) 12 Billion
Bifidobacterium longum (Bl-05) 1 Billion
Lactobacillus rhamnosus (Lr-32) 1 Billion
Bifidobacterium breve (Bb-03) 1 Billion
Lactobacillus casei (Lc-11) 1 Billion
Lactobacillus salivarius (Ls-33) 1 Billion
Lactobacillus plantarum (Lp-115) 1 Billion

See Reviews for Healthy Origins, Probiotic supplement (US)

 

Symptoms Of An Unhealthy Gut

  • Frequent infections
  • Poor skin
  • Fungus / candida infections
  • Acid Reflux
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Autoimmune issues and allergies

If you’ve have used antibiotics in the past and you think they might have affected your health in a negative way, then it’s certainly worth trying a probiotic supplement to see if any problems you have improve once you introduce more healthy bacteria into the microbiome

To help make the probiotics more effective, make sure to include plenty of foods which are prebiotic such as garlic, leeks, onions, almonds. Foods like kimchi, kefir, and yogurts are also great sources of good bacteria aside from probiotic supplements.

In this BBC Article it was reported that ‘Older people have 1000 times less friendly bacteria in their gut’ – and researchers have since found that probiotics improves immune function in elderly persons.

References

1. Structural modulation of gut microbiota in life-long calorie-restricted mice
http://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms3163

2. Dogs Lived 1.8 Years Longer On Low Calorie Diet: Gut Flora May Explain It
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070419160140.htm

3 Changes seen in gut bacteria content and distribution with obesity: causation or association?
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26474235

4. Review on microbiota and effectiveness of probiotics use in older persons

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4317609/

Supplements on Calorie Restriction

What Supplements to take on CR 

I had this question the other day and it’s been a while since I updated on my supplement regimen, so before I do, I’ll talk a little about my feeling towards taking supplements while practicing calorie restriction and what supplements I take and recommend for people practicing calorie restriction or on a raw food, vegan diet.

Avoid the Hype with Supplements

When I first started to read about supplements I was very excited to learn about all the amazing benefits and how they were little miracles in a bottle. Back then in 2005 the research on Resveratrol was only just starting to ramp up. Scientists had discovered that it was Sirtuin Activator and speculated that it might let one get the benefits of calorie restriction without having to actually do the diet. All one had to do was take a supplement or a pill that would be developed and be more powerful.  So as it turns out, resveratrol only benefits obese mice placed on a very bad diet. In mice on normal diets, the resveratrol had no effect on longevity.

This story with regards to supplements is repeated over and over again. At first everyone is excited that we might be on to something that works and will cure people of all their health problems, and then a well-designed study looks at the supplement in question and there is no effect. And what’s scary is that some supplements actually reduced lifespan in long lived mice and calorie restricted animals.

So given that I am skeptical about supplements, you would think that I skip them and not bother. Well, there are supplements that I think do have fairly good evidence, and also won’t do any harm in the long term. I mean, the last thing I want is to take something and then it blocks the life-extending effect of calorie restriction. So anyway, below is a list of the supplements that I feel are needed, safe, and most likely beneficial.

Calorie Restriction Supplements

Vitamin B12: If you are vegetarian or vegan I think that it is a very smart idea to take vitamin B12. It is water-soluble and you can take so much of this that you don’t really need to worry about getting into toxicity issues. As you know, I am a strict vegetarian and “mostly” vegan, so I take a Methylcobalamin (B12) supplement.

Magneisum Citrate: When I started calorie restriction I ran into problems with magnesium. Despite me getting plenty in my diet, I had magnesium deficiency symptoms that went on for almost a year before I figured out the cause. Within a very short period of supplements, the symptoms went away and have not returned in 8 years. Magnesium is also just calming and makes you feel relaxed.

Vitamin D3: I tend to do a lot of work indoors and go through periods where I am a night owl, and don’t get much sun, so taking a vitamin D3 supplement is important for me. I find that it helps improve my mood so much. Also, many people here in the UK don’t get enough even when they are outside often. Vitamin D3 is important for bones, immune system, and well-being. A few studies have also shown it to be very effective in preventing cancer and the recurrence of various cancers. I take at least 2000 IU a day.

Zinc: On a plant-based diet I get a lot of copper and not enough zinc. Since copper and zinc compete for the same pathway, it is crucial to get the correct ratio. It’s recommended that we have zinc-copper ratio of 8:1 to 10:1 — so at least 8 mg of zinc for every 1 mg of copper in your diet. I use CRON-O-METER to find out how much I am getting of each.

Allicin Max: The only stabilized allicin supplement out there and is one of my favourite supplements ever. I cannot tell you how many times I feel it has saved my from falling ill with colds. I take it every day now to protect myself, and I truly believe that it has helped me so much.

I had a bacterial infection years ago and nothing would work, no matter how many antibiotics I was given. I decided to try this supplement after a friend recommended it to me. Before I took it I decided to do some research and found that it acted synergistically with antibiotics to clear infections, by lowering the minimum inhibitory concentrate (MIC) and reversing resistance. In studies it worked on its own as a quorum sensing inhibitor and thus the bacteria cannot communicate well or create a strong biofilm, leaving them vulnerable to the immune system and antibiotics. I’ve had multiple bladder infections growing up and had to resort to antibiotics (they say once you get one, 50% of people have a recurrence), but eventually they became less effective. Trimethoprim stopped working, so I tried Doxycycline (sometimes long term low-dose) and it was great at first, but it was slowly losing its potency. E coli was the problem (causes 90% of UTI’s); and it was becoming resistant.

I was already taking other supplements like AHCC and/or Beta glucans to help with the immune system while taking those antibiotics. And I believe they did help clear it up fast, but for some reason it kept coming back. Ever since I added the Allicin to the mix, it wiped it out and has not returned in years! I’m sure Allicin helped me get rid of the problem for good.

Check out what others are saying about it also… It is available in creams and supplement form. (make sure you get Allicin Max if you’re in the UK and make sure the product contains allisure) It was also featured in the news a few years ago

Probiotics: I’ve taken probiotics for years because of my history with antibiotics. Although I’ve never felt any big negative side effects on my digestive system from taking antibiotics in the past, I’m sure things were out of balance because of other signs. I take at least one 30 billion CFU probiotic supplement every day, so this may have prevented the negative effects of antibiotics. Before I was vegan I would get much of my good bacteria from probiotics yogurts.

My Thoughts on Anti Ageing Supplements

Be careful. There’s a lot of misinformation out there that you want to avoid. Calorie restriction is still the most effective method to extend lifespan. You don’t need to take a huge stack of supplements. If we are to find something that mimics the effect of calorie restriction in extending lifespan, it is likely to come out of the science lab. The closest and most encouraging news lately is about something called Rapamycin. It is a TOR inhibitor and used to help people who have organ transplants. In animal experiments they’ve found that it extends lifespan, even when given late in life. And synthetic versions of this are being developed and tried in older people. There is  also a study in dogs to see if it extends  lifespan. Keep an eye out for news on Rapamycin!

References
1. Dietary supplementation with Lovaza and krill oil shortens the life span of long-lived F1 mice
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4082564/

2. Influence on Longevity of Blueberry, Cinnamon, Green and Black Tea, Pomegranate, Sesame, Curcumin, Morin, Pycnogenol, Quercetin, and Taxifolin Fed Iso-Calorically to Long-Lived, F1 Hybrid Mice http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23432089

3. Lifespan effects of simple and complex nutraceutical combinations fed isocalorically to mice.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24370781

Omnivore to Vegan

Sometimes a change will do you good

 

I’ve been reading and participating in various health forums on the internet since around 2003. It’s surprising how people can be so set in their beliefs about diet. It’s almost like a religion. If new evidence is presented that contradicts what they are doing, it’s quickly dismissed. Maybe there’s an emotional element and people get attached to their diets and their way. I understand that not everyone is able to interpret scientific papers and understand them, but educating yourself and keeping an open mind is very important – especially if you’re into extending your life. On  the other side, you have people who are constantly changing their diet every few weeks or months and don’t know which way to turn. Indeed, diet and supplements can be confusing, but perhaps we overcomplicate things too much sometimes?

I’ve had times in my life when I used to eat so bad! Days where my diet would consist of nothing but cereal, biscuits, chocolate, sweets, fizzy drinks, yet I felt pretty good! So we have to be careful with how we feel in the short term and use a little common sense, rationality, and look at the science as well as objective measurements of our health to judge whether or not a certain way of eating is good for us.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know that I’ve mostly been consistent with my diet over long periods of time. I’ve only made a few big changes, the rest were minor tweaks. Over 10 years a lot can change as we get new information and this can and should help guide us to make better choices. But we have to stay open to new ideas.

Changes I’ve made

I became vegetarian: I quit eating meat on my birthday on the 21st of October  2007. It was a very easy thing to do as I was never a big meat eater anyway. Unbeknownst to my parents, I would often give the meat to my dog. 🙂  Since becoming vegetarian,  my compassion for animals had grown to a point where I feel it’s no longer acceptable to eat animals because of ethical reasons. So I’ll never go back to eating meat ever again.

To replace the protein from meat I chose whey protein as a replacement. Unfortunately back then we didn’t know eating a high protein diet – especially whey – could prevent the decrease in IGF-1 hormone which has been linked with longevity in animals and humans. It’s also thought to now be an important part of why calorie restriction works to slow down ageing.

I lowered my protein intake: As more evidence was coming in showing low IGF-1 is an important factor in longevity, and possibly part of the reason why calorie restriction extends lifespan, I decided to lower my protein intake by remove whey protein from my diet. I had held back on making this change for quite some time after a study was published in 2008 showing that we had to lower both calorie intake as well as protein intake to achieve the desired decrease in IGF-1. I guess I was still questioning just how important this hormone was in the CR-effect.

By 2010 I was convinced that there was sufficient evidence to make the change. This was 5 years after I began CRON. I don’t regret consuming the whey protein for much of that time as I had been using it to help heal from bilateral achilles tendonitis which was caused by an antibiotic I took in 2007.  The problem persisted for two years and then went away.

Prior to 2010 the macronutrient ratio of my diet was 40% carbs, 30% fat, 30% protein.  In 2010 I changed it to 55% carbs, 30% fat, 15% protein. This still wasn’t at the 10% level that was recommended, but a significant decrease from before.

I went Vegan: After coming back from California in 2012 I had decided to become a vegan. I didn’t anticipate any real changes in my health from doing this, but I thought it was the right thing to do. From a health perspective, I wasn’t convinced that being a vegan was better for you than being a vegetarian. In fact, I believed that most vegans were not paying close attention to their diets and were likely to be missing out on important nutrients.  Having spoken with vegans in the past, it became obvious that not all understand the risks and deficiencies associated with such a diet. I remember having a debate with a girl who told me she didn’t need any b12 from her diet. She had been vegan for 6 months and felt totally fine. The problem was that she didn’t understand the body stores significant amounts of b12 and it can take years for any b12 deficiency symptoms to show up. I always thought vegetarianism is the safer option for children and adults, simply because of the lack of education on nutrition to be able to safely eat this way.

So anyway, now that I’ve taken out dairy and eggs from my diet, my protein dropped to about 10% of my total caloric intake.  As expected, no real big change in how I felt other than one small difference: I could breathe more easily than before. I guess I hadn’t realised that I had a problem at all because it was so minor! But removing these animal products from my diet cleared up this issue very quickly. Perhaps I really did have some reaction to the dairy. It’s not that uncommon.

Supplements: The other big change that I made in 2012 was changing my supplement regimen. I’ve taken a lot of supplements in the past. I would read through forums to find the best ‘anti-ageing’ stack, as I used to believe it would enhance the effect of calorie restriction. I’ve never thought supplements could actually replace calorie restriction as an anti-ageing strategy though.

Over the years we’ve seen reports that taking supplements could actually do more harm than good. None of us really wanted to believe this, but sometimes we have to facts. Supplements have repeatedly failed to protect against cancer in multiple clinical trials in humans. Studies have shown that supplements may even increase mortality. Yikes!

Early 2013 a study was published that questioned the use of dietary supplements in life extension. Stephen Spindler conducted a study on F1 Hybrid Mice by giving them a mix of supplements which were thought as the best candidates to mimic the effect of CR or improve health in some other way. These supplements not only failed to have any effect whatsoever.  In 2013 another study was published showing that not only did supplements fail to extend lifespan, in some cases, they actually decreased lifespan! And some of the supplements used are very popular brands and used among many in the life extension community. Now I only take supplements to correct any deficiencies in my diet, as well as vitmain D3 and Allicin.

Be Open to Change

Nutritional science is always changing our ideas what to eat or how much to eat. We all strive to find the best diet that works for us. It can take a while before you find your feet and figure out what works best.  We have to stay open minded and change when necessary. Remember it’s not just about how you feel in the moment, but it’s how you will feel 10 years from now. You might feel ‘energised’ by eating 30 bananas in a day, but what is that going to do over several years? Be careful with what you read and question things more. Do your own research! This is why I often provide scientific references in my posts. 🙂

Becoming vegan was definitely one of the best changes. I feel it is the right choice from an ethical perspective as well as for my health and longevity. And being vegan is super easy! There’s plenty of different foods. It’s really not limiting at all.

High Nutrition on a Low Calorie Diet

Low Calorie, High Nutrition

 

Doing Calorie Restriction the right way: I’ve come across a lot of diets over the last 10 years, and many of them seem to miss out on important nutrients or have serious imbalances which can cause some issues over the long term. When we judge whether or not a diet is working for us, we’ll usually just look at the physical changes of our body and not pay much attention to anything else. When eating a very low calorie diet, you really want to make sure that you pay extra attention to the nutrients you are getting to avoid deficiencies. For calorie restriction to work, this is very important. Slight deficiencies over the long term can cause increased rates of disease; they usually don’t kill you immediately. 

Deficiencies and imbalances: As a raw food vegan myself, I’ve had to adjust my diet slightly, as well as use targeted supplementation to protect against deficiencies and imbalances. Unfortunately, in the raw food community – which is growing in popularity – some people are being very ignorant when it comes to these potential hazards. Take for example zinc to copper ratio! These two minerals compete at the same sites for absorption in the gut; so getting too much of one can throw it out of balance and cause a secondary deficiency in the other.  In a raw food diet, copper is usually abundant in plant foods, so we get plenty of that. The problem lies in that we get plenty of copper, but not enough zinc, thus throwing out that balance. It’s really not uncommon to get 4 – 5 mg of copper on a raw food diet. Ideally, you want to aim for a Zn to Cu ratio between 8:1 to 10:1. So you want 8 – 10 mg of Zinc, for every 1 mg of copper in your diet. Getting these ratios correct is important because it can have significant effects on your health. Getting this ratio is important because elevated copper and low zinc will increase the burden of oxidative stress in the body, by decreasing levels of superoxide dismutase which is responsible redox reaction or dismutation of superoxide free radicals into oxygen and hydrogen peroxide. These enzymes are part of the intraceullular and extracellular antioxidant defense system in the body and are important for protecting against cancer!  Zinc is also involved in many catalytic activities involving 200 enzymes. It plays a significant role in DNA synthesis, cell division, wound healing, immune function and also prevents accelerated ageing.

Any imbalance here can very easily be corrected with supplementation. So if you have to supplement, please do! Signs of zinc deficiency will not show up right away; one symptom that I came across myself early on was dry rough hands. Other symptoms like poor immune system, skin problems, hair loss and more can show up. I’ve known a few people on high plant diets who had these problems and corrected them when they started to supplement. 

Garlic can enhance the absorption of Zinc: Taking garlic with your food can significantly increase the bioavailability of Zinc by 10 to 70 percent. Every time I have beans, I always try to include some freshly crushed garlic.

Other potential deficiencies on a raw food vegan diet: B12, Calcium and Iron. Unlike Zinc, these can be easily tested for, so get blood work done and supplement where necessary. I personally take a B12 supplement called Methylcobalamin; and I choose my sources of calcium wisely! Kale has more bioavailable calcium than spinach. So remember, even if your CRON-O-METER shows up that you met the recommended daily allowance (RDI), you still can be low.

Eat a diverse range of foods: This is one way to ensure that we are getting proper nutrition and all the protective compounds in plant foods. There are many types of fruits and vegetables which provide unique phytochemicals that are very beneficial to your health and longevity. One of the reasons I think eating a strict fruitarian diet is bad is because fruits have never been shown to be more beneficial than vegetables. Vegetables are much more nutrient dense than are fruits. Fruits can provide you with a lot of calories, but you get vitamins, less minerals, and fewer phytochemicals. 

The aim is simple: Get the most nutrients in the fewest amount of calories possible. A low calorie diet should ideally meet all vitamins, minerals, fatty acids with diet alone. If you can’t do that, then don’t be afraid to supplement where it is needed.  I’m no longer a strong proponent of taking huge amount of supplements unless there is a specific disease or problem to target. Sensible targeted supplement will only help you in creating a more healthy and sustainable lifestyle. A low calorie diet or a raw food diet is very healthy when done right. Unfortunately, a lot of people miss things on the diet because they didn’t have the right information or were misinformed by others.

What I eat in a week: I’ve had requests in the past by a lot of people to show what I eat in a week. So from Monday I will record everything until Sunday. I’ll put information in CRON-O-METER also. So look out for updates on this!


Reference 

1. Gautam S1, Platel K, Srinivasan K. Higher bioaccessibility of iron and zinc from food grains in the presence of garlic and onion. J Agric Food Chem. 2010 Jul 28;58(14):8426-9. doi: 10.1021/jf100716t.

2. Josko Osredkar and Natasa Sustar
Copper and Zinc, Biological Role and Significance of Copper/Zinc 
Imbalance
http://omicsonline.org/copper-and-zinc-biological-role-and-significance-of-copper-zincimbalance-2161-0495.S3-001.pdf

Forever Young

Update on my diet, supplements, and cosmetic routine

Skin: I wash with Neutrogena Gentle Exfoliating face wash and then apply Skinceuticals CE + Ferulic Acid to my face (3 drops). Apply Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50 from Skinceuticals (mainly in the summer). At night time I will use cleansing wipes and apply Aloe Vera Gel from Aubrey Organics.
Lips: Blistex Lip Brilliance SPF15 or Burt’s Bees Lip Balm – Pomegranate (I apply throughout the day when needed).
Hair: Every few months I will switch between: L’Oreal – Elvive Nutri-Gloss and Herbal Essences Beautiful End Shampoo. I use Pantene Pro-V Clarifying Shampoo once a month. Conditioner either from L’Oreal or Herbal Essence.

Morning supplements: Vitamin D3 1000IU, Vitamin B Complex (every other day);  B12 on the days I don’t take B Complex. Zinc (15mg), Mangesium (300mg), and AllicinMax (Allimax in the US) 2 capsules with breakfast.

Breakfast:  Wholemeal bread (sometimes lightly toasted) with EVOO + 2 capsules of Allicin. Shortly after:

Oatmeal, Blueberries 80g, Almonds, 2 Brazil Nuts, 2 squares of Lindt Dark Chocolate 70%.

Lunch: Banana, Apple, Kale or Spinach Smoothie

Dinner a: Carrots, Corn, Green Beans, Peas (700 grams); Extra Virgin Olive Oil (1 tbsp), Ketchup (low sugar/salt); 1 cup of Soy Milk with Green and Blacks hot chocolate. OR
Dinner b: Broccoli, Cauliflower, Carrots, Peas (700 grams); Extra Virgin Olive Oil (1 tbsp), Ketchup (low sugar/salt); 1 cup of Soy Milk with Green and Blacks hot chocolate.
Desert: Anything that I want so to reach my calorie intake target; usually fruit.
Evening supplements: Allicin Max – capsules (I increase the the amount I take if there are any bugs going around). l-theanine 200mg

Drinks: I’ll have various drinks throughout the day, these include:
– Pukka 3 Mint Tea: Peppermint Leaf (34%),Spearmint Leaf (34%) ,Fieldmint Leaf (32%) – 4 tea bags per day.
– Licorice Tea
– Sencha Green Tea (I add ginger) – 5 cups a day minimum (2 tea bags per cup).
– Twinings Camomile And Spearmint Tea – 2 cups in the evening.

I try to keep my diet fairly consistent without much change as this makes it much easier. I enjoy everything that I eat, so it doesn’t bother me if I eat mostly the same every day. Occasionally I will go out for a meal with my friends, but this is just a few times a year.

A recently published study showed that various supplements have no effect on longevity so I have since discontinued taking them as there could be a risk of them interfering with the life extending effect of CR, or are simply just a waste of money! Another study showed that people taking large doses of multiple supplements had no effect on health (2). One supplement in particular that I have kept on taking is the Allicin Max. As long as I am taking this supplement, I haven’t come down with any colds, flu, or stomach bugs that go around. If I feel that I am more at risk of catching something, I will sometimes increase the number of capsules I take during the day. This seems to be the most effective supplement that I’ve found to prevent infections.

I had some blood tests done a few weeks ago and had a few surprising results. I barely slept the night before the test and this might have caused my neutrophil count to be higher than it normally is. I found a few studies that suggested even one night of sleep deprivation causes an elevation in white blood count, specifically neutrophils (reference in my blood test results link to the right of this page). My C reactive protein was undetectable, indicating no inflammation or infection either. My lipid profile was still good, but not where I want it to be. I suspect the reason for this is because in 2012 I got depressed after a serious breakup and went off CR a little by including bad foods in my diet and not getting much exercise. Since early on this year I’ve been back on a more strict CR diet and very focused. Overall the blood results were still excellent.

I feel back to myself now and so much happier than before. I’ve focused on my diet, exercise, relationships with family and friends, and the things I really want to do with my life. I feel so much healthier, I sleep very well, and things are just looking so much better right now. There’s going to be big changes to come in the near future that I’m very excited about. I’ll share with you soon!

1. Spindler SR, Mote PL, Flegal JM, Teter B. Influence on longevity of blueberry, cinnamon, green and black tea, pomegranate, sesame, curcumin, morin, pycnogenol, quercetin, and taxifolin fed iso-calorically to long-lived, F1 hybrid mice. PMID: 23432089

2. Soare A, Weiss EP, Holloszy JO, Fontana L.
Multiple dietary supplements do not affect metabolic and cardiovascular health. Aging (Albany NY). 2013 Sep 4. PMID: 24036417