Following a plant-based diet offers many health benefits. However, the lifestyle isn’t free of challenges. While I usually tout its advantages, today I am going to discuss some common plant-based diet problems. But fear not - I also share solutions.
Plant-Based Diet Problems & Solutions
Excess Gas on a Plant-Based Diet
Do you know the song about beans? The more you eat, the more you toot. Well, that can be true about a plant-based diet in general–especially in the beginning. If you go from eating very little fiber (like most folks) to consuming a whole lot more, you are going to feel bloated and gassy.
Ease into the change. Give your body time to adjust. The gassiness is usually temporary.
You can also take a supplement to help prevent the formation of gas. Beano® contains a natural enzyme that makes complex carbohydrates easier to digest.
Herpes Outbreaks on a Plant-Based Diet
If you have herpes–either HSV-1 (oral) or HSV-2 (genital)–you may experience an increase in flair-ups on a plant-based diet. That’s because many plant foods contain high amounts of the amino acid arginine. Herpes depends on arginine to grow and multiply.
Plant foods high in arginine include:
- nuts and seeds
- orange juice
The good news is you don’t have to avoid these foods entirely. You just need to balance your intake with foods rich in the amino acid lysine. Lysine can suppress herpes.
Plant foods high in lysine include:
- Brussels sprouts
You can also take a lysine supplement for extra protection. I recommend Vitanica Lysine Extra capsules. Be sure to discuss your needs with your doctor.
Check out the HCNetwork's article Diet and Nutrition with Herpes for more information.
Weight Gain on a Plant-Based Diet
Folks often promote following a plant-based diet as a way to lose weight. I’m one of them. I share my story about how I lost a bunch of weight in Why I Follow A Plant-Based Diet.
However, you only need to conduct a quick search for “plant-based desserts” to know there are still plenty of temptations.
Technically potato chips are plants. You can argue home-made potato chips are a healthier option. There are a lot of ways you can talk yourself back into bad habits. (Cashew ice-cream, anyone?)
When you find yourself consuming too much sugar, salt, fat, or alcohol, remember why you switched to a plant-based diet. I like to revisit the resources that inspired me. And, I never stop reading about health and nutrition – see the latest books I have on my Kindle below.
Let’s be honest, keeping weight off is even harder than losing it in the first place. Following a plant-based lifestyle makes it easier. But it isn’t bullet-proof. You will need to “re-set” your determination from time to time.
Nutrient Deficiencies on a Plant-Based Diet
A well-balanced plant-based diet gives your body just about everything it needs. However, there are a few areas where it may fall short. You may need to supplement the following:
Vitamin B12 supports a number of processes in our bodies–including brain function and the health of our nervous system. Unfortunately, this vital nutrient only occurs naturally in animal products. So folks who follow a plant-based diet need to supplement.
Some people have trouble absorbing B12 in the stomach, so it’s a good idea to take a sublingual drop or tablet which you absorb under your tongue. The general recommendation is to take about 1mg per day. I recommend Source Naturals® Methylcobalamin vitamin B-12 cherry flavored sublingual tablets.
Check out the Vegan Society’s article What Every Vegan Should Know About Vitamin B12 if you would like to learn more.
Your body needs vitamin D to avoid disease and maintain strong bones. However, most people have trouble getting enough of this sunshine vitamin. Folks on a plant-based diet are especially at risk because they avoid vitamin D-fortified dairy products. (This is one reason why I don't make plant milk. Aside from convenience, I prefer to buy fortified plant milk.)
Ask your doctor to test your vitamin D levels before you take a supplement. Too much vitamin D can also be a concern–so you want to be sure you take the right amount.
For most folks, a moderate daily dose of about 2000 IU of D3 is advised. I recommend Pure Encapsulations Vitamin D3 1,000 IU.
Check out Dr. Fuhrman's article Vitamin D is Critical to Overall Health for more information.
Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) are vital to brain health. However, unless you eat fatty fish, you may not get enough. Plant foods rich in short-chain omega-3 fatty acids (ALA) include:
- Hemp seeds
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds
- Leafy greens
But our bodies may not efficiently convert ALA to DHA. Most folks need to take a supplement to ensure proper protection.
Since fish (and fish oil) can be heavily polluted, you should look for a clean algae-derived DHA supplement. I recommend Dr. Fuhrman's DHA+EPA Purity drops.
Check out Dr. Fuhrman's article The Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Brain Health if you would like to learn more.
Many plant-based lifestyle advocates recommend following a low-fat diet. Others suggest you include healthy fat from whole foods like avocados, nuts, and seeds. You have to listen to your body.
I followed a low-fat diet when I first adopted a plant-based lifestyle. However, my hair became shinier, and my mind felt sharper when I added healthy fats back into the equation.
I hope you found this discussion about plant-based diet problems helpful. Please note the observations I've shared are based on my reading and research and represent my opinion. They are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of the information I have shared. Also, some of the links on this page are affiliate links. I may earn a commission if you use the links. I only recommend items/brands I use and trust.