Vegan While Chronically Ill: It Is Possible!

We’ve all heard the age-old argument, “I have a chronic disease, veganism isn’t for me!” While most vegans know that there is no condition that requires consumption of animal products, and there are no nutrients that cannot be obtained through plant-based foods, (Yes, B12 exists in plants) many people do not. Let’s break it down.

A chronic illness is defined as any disease that persists for three or more months. Worldwide, the three most common chronic illnesses today are Arthritis, Hypertensive Disease or High Blood Pressure (HBP), and Asthma. In the United States, almost 45% of the population suffers from at least one chronic illness.

Arthritis, the number one most common type of chronic illnesses is a group of diseases involving over inflammation,  particularly of the joints. Maintenance of Arthritis requires a diet heavy in Omega 3’s, anthocyanin, and Vitamin D, all of which can be obtained through a vegan diet. Omega 3’s, though commonly associated with fish, can be found in high quantities in flax products, walnuts, and soybeans. Anthocyanin, a powerful antioxidant, can be found in many red, purple, or blue fruits and vegetables. Anthocyanin-rich foods include, but are not limited to, eggplant, berries, black currants, red cabbage, and grapes. Though Vitamin D can be acquired through sun exposure, in the modern age, most people do not require their recommended daily dosage. You can add more Vitamin D to your diet with fortified nut mylks, Or a D3 supplement by Vitashine, which is one of, if not the only D3 supplements not derived from animal products on the market.

Hypertensive Disease affects 24% of the population, and a vegan diet can be very helpful in lowering blood pressure. According to the DASH, or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, those with HBP should follow a diet rich in potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Potassium is found in high quantities in squash, sweet potato, broccoli, bananas, lentils, cantaloupe and pistachios. Magnesium can be obtained through dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains, avocado, dried fruits, bananas, and dark chocolate. Many people think dairy is the greatest source of Calcium, but according to The Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine, consuming dairy leeches the Calcium from your bones over time. It’s better to reach your daily requirement by eating cinnamon, nut mylks, green vegetables, or tempeh.

Asthma affects 8% of the population, most of those being children. Asthma is a chronic inflammation of the airways, which can be exacerbated by many things, including diet. For maintenance of the disease, patients should consume more Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Beta-Carotene, and Selenium. Vitamin C is easy to obtain through a vegan diet, as it naturally occurs in most fruits and vegetables. Concentrated sources of Vitamin C include citrus fruits, papaya, bell peppers, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and kiwis. Vitamin E is found in sunflower seeds, almonds, and spinach. Beta-Carotene is commonly found in yellow, red, or orange fruits and vegetables, as well as leafy green vegetables. Load up on Beta-Carotene by eating more carrots, spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and broccoli. Selenium, another powerful antioxidant, is found in brazil nuts, Shiitake mushrooms, lima beans, chia seeds, brown rice, and cabbage to name a few.

As you can see, plants contain everything you need to care for and fuel your body, regardless of the current state of your health. With enough research, anyone can become vegan, and anyone and everyone should .