Three questions I'm being asked more and more frequently are:
Following a colourful plant-based diet can lead to more creativity in the kitchen (which I love) and can be a great way to increase variety in our diet (which our gut bacteria love)! But more thought may need to go into meal planning to ensure we're getting the right balance of vitamins, minerals and nutrients. And in some cases supplementation is definitely advisable.
So below are my top six nutrients to really focus on when eating a plant-based or vegan diet.
If you feel you could benefit from some help and support getting this balance right or some expert advice on supplementation, get in touch with me.
Iron is essential for the formation of healthy red blood cells and it carries oxygen to tissues all around our body. When we don’t eat sufficient iron, we are at increased risk of experiencing:
Low iron levels and anaemia are very common, especially in women with heavy periods, menopausal women and those that follow a plant based or vegan diet.
Iron is most readily available in animal produce such as red meat, eggs and fish. Iron is also available in many plant based foods including:
If you're cooking from scratch and using whole foods (like legumes, pulses, nuts, seeds and whole grains) daily, then the chances are you're following a well-balanced, plant-based or vegan diet and you should be getting sufficient iron. However, if the diet is not well planned, or you're relying heavily on processed vegan products, you could become susceptible to iron deficiency.
If you are unsure, get your iron and ferritin levels tested. Ferritin levels are helpful because it’s an indication of your stored iron levels. Digestive problems, such as low stomach acid can also impair iron absorption.
Best sources of plant based protein
We need protein for our skin, cell and muscle formation and as fuel for our bodies. When we aren’t getting enough protein, symptoms may include:
These are called incomplete proteins as they don’t contain all the amino acids and we need to ensure we get a good mix. Getting the balance right, can sometimes be difficult especially when starting out on a plant based diet. An issue I see regularly is the over-reliance on mass produced ‘fake meat’ products. These are highly processed foods. Focus on natural sources of protein where possible.
Vegan sources of vitamin B12
This important B vitamin helps to support our blood cells and without it, we’re at increased risk of memory problems, mood disorders, and fatigue. Joint pain or digestive problems such as diarrhoea and nausea are other common symptoms.
Animal produce including yoghurt, fish and meat is the best source of vitamin B12 and it will be very difficult to maintain good vitamin B12 status from plants alone. It can take a few years for vitamin B12 levels in the body to deplete so get your levels checked regularly.
It can be helpful to supplement with vegan B12. Ensuring you have optimal stomach acid will also help with vitamin B12 absorption and reduce the risk of deficiency. As a Nutritional Therapist, I am trained in nutritional supplementation and can tailor a supplement plan specific to your unique needs. Find out more about how we can work together here.
Where do vegans get calcium?
Well known for its role in healthy strong bones, calcium is also involved in maintaining healthy teeth, nerve and muscle function. Most people think of dairy products when they hear the word calcium but other great sources of calcium include:
Vegan sources of vitamin D and DHA
Without vitamin D, we cannot absorb and utilise calcium. Vitamin D deficiency isn’t just a risk for vegans and vegetarians. Most of us are at risk and the advice is to test once yearly and to supplement, especially during winter months. If you are vegan double check you are using a vegan vitamin D supplement as many are sourced from lanolin, which is from sheep’s wool.
To support a healthy brain and memory, we need DHA which comes directly from oily fish. If you are plant based, vegetarian, or vegan I recommend using a plant based supplement from sea algae which will support optimal brain function, memory, concentration and learning.
Recipe ideas for plant based or vegan eating
We definitely don't need to be eating meat at each meal or even on a daily basis but you don't need to go vegan to benefit from eating more plant based meals. Having meat-free days is a great way to incorporate more variety into your diet and increase your fibre intake.
Here are a few recipe ideas to help you incorporate more energising and balanced plant based meals into your life.
Most people have experienced symptoms of acid indigestion, such as heartburn and acid reflux at some point. A gnawing, burning sensation in the chest and throat that seems relentless and takes away the joy of eating!
It’s really common during pregnancy, during a stressful period and for many people it's common on a daily basis. During the holiday period, or when we overindulge, symptoms can become much worse as naturally we tend to overdo things... 3-course lunches, canapés and fizz...
In this blog post I’ll explain how you can support your digestion, and get to the root cause of acid reflux so you can:
How to stop acid reflux and heartburn
Prevent acid reflux and heartburn for good in two key stages:
What foods cause acid reflux and heartburn?
Avoid the following list of foods as they may irritate an inflamed stomach lining which when healthy would produce its own protective barrier.
What foods are helpful for acid reflux?
The impact of too many anti-acid pills
These are a few reasons why regularly relying on anti-acid tablets (e.g. Rennies, Gaviscon, Omeprazole and Lansoprazole) to manage acid reflux and heartburn symptoms is not ideal, unless essential. They neutralize and block the production of acid - the very substance our body needs to keep bacteria at bay, absorb nutrients and digest protein optimally.
Natural solutions for acid reflux.
In order to return to eating your favourite foods, the lining of the stomach still needs the right nutritional support to heal properly. Get in touch with me here for a more personalised step-by-step plan on how to resolve the root issue - the irritated stomach lining. Without addressing the root cause, symptoms are likely to keep recurring.
As a Registered Nutritional Therapist, I can advise on a suitable supplement programme for you if you are experiencing symptoms of acid reflux, or wish to reduce your reliance on anti-acid medications, (with support from your GP, of course). Let's book a call now and we can discuss your particular circumstances in more detail.
You don’t have to suffer with symptoms of acid reflux, heartburn or acid indigestion. It’s maybe common, but it’s not normal!
Red flags to watch out for.
If you experience repeated acid reflux it is important to see your GP to rule out any underlying triggers such as hiatus hernia, stomach ulcer or H pylori infection.
I'm SOoo excited to finally tell you about the BBC TV series I’ve been involved in called Laid Bare.
What's the TV show 'Laid Bare' about?
The series follows the lives of Scottish people struggling with their health due to diet and lifestyle choices. The participants are people who are leading very complex, busy lives, like most of us today!
On the face of it, these people look healthy but actually when we dig deeper we find that the health choices they are making are actually brewing long term health problems.
My role as the BBC Laid Bare Nutritionist...
My role as the Laid Bare Nutritionist was to create personalised nutrition plans for each participant so they could get clear on what foods to eat to optimise their health.
We covered so much, I'm not sure which portions made it into the show! You’ll need to tune in to find out exactly how we used nutrition and dietary changes to improve their health.
It’s all ‘Laid Bare’ on the doctor’s table in a post-mortem style expose as Dr. Punam Krishan reveals the before and after.
Here's how to catch me on the Laid Bare tv programme.
In the UK, you can watch it live on BBC One Scotland. There are three episodes in total and they are all available on the BBC iPlayer to watch again, for a limited time.
Remember you’ll need to change your BBC settings to "Scotland" if you are elsewhere in the UK.
Do you wish you could get expert nutrition and lifestyle advice? Just like we see on these TV programmes...?
Work with me one-to-one for 30-days and you too can make similar transformations to your health and wellbeing, without telling the nation!
You'll receive weekly calls, meal plans and check-ins, just like the participants I worked with on this TV show!
Are you ready to be... Laid Bare?
Book a call now and we can discuss how you too can get the results you want.
Thanks to everyone who came to my sell-out event Learn to Love your Gut on the 14th September! It was a huge success and a fabulous way to spend a Saturday morning with 14 fellow gut health enthusiasts.
In case you missed out this time, I’ve put together three great takeaways to help you on your gut healing journey.
I've also popped a slideshow at the end. We were having so much fun in the kitchen I wish we had remembered to take photos of the actual food but hopefully you can still capture the essence of the morning from the slideshow below.
Lastly, make sure you are on my mailing list so you don't miss out on my next event!
1. Trust your Gut
If you have an upset or inflamed gut you are much more likely to feel depressed, anxious and miserable.
Did you know much of our serotonin (the happy hormone) is made in our gut, not our brain? This communication between gut and brain is known as the gut-brain axis. Supporting our gut may have health benefits that reach far beyond good digestion. From less inflamed joints to more stable moods and less anxious minds. All great reasons to support your gut!
2. Nourish your skin from the inside out.
Another takeaway is to think of our gut as a continuation of our skin. There is no seam! The cells lining our intestines are easily damaged (causing leaky gut) and we can use nutrients and foods to help nourish our skin cells on the inside as well as at face value.
Repair, nourish, and glow from the inside out
Remember gut healing is much more than food elimination diets! Food elimination diets help to reduce inflammation and take the pressure off the gut but that’s only the beginning of the gut healing journey.
3. Fantastic Ferments
Have you tried any fermented foods recently? We sampled Edinburgh Fermentarium’s delicious fermented sauerkrauts and kimchi and discussed how we could incorporate them into our meals every day.
Fermented foods are rich in probiotics and in-short, help support the balance of bacteria in the gut. If you like pickled things you’re sure to love fermented vegetables and your gut will thank you too! That said, do start slowly if you’re new to fermented foods as they can be quite strong.
What about probiotic supplements?
If you aren't ready to try fermented foods, (perhaps your gut is still too sensitive), you could consider supplementing with a good quality probiotic supplement. I've written about what to look for when choosing a probiotic supplement here.
Need some help putting a gut healing plan in place?
Get in touch and we can arrange a chat. My 90-day package is the perfect way to start your gut healing journey with lots of one-to-one support and monthly meal plans using all these wonderful gut-friendly foods along the way!
Hello! Welcome to Stellar Health.