Persistent Health Issues after Diet Change


Jul 3, 2019
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  1. Omnivore
Hello! I will try to sum this up briefly, and I'm really just looking for any kind of advice/similar experiences to mine.
I am a very active person, I go to the gym 3-4 times a week, and love hiking/playing musical instruments etc.. I went vegetarian almost a year ago, from a diet that consisted of meat in almost every meal. For the first few months I felt great, more active than every before. After a few months into the diet change, I developed some tendon/muscle issues in both my wrists. I figured I had overworked them. The doctor said tendonitis, and I started physical therapy for it. A couple months later, I started developing issues in my ankles and knees. I would start limping randomly and have pain in my knees. Once again, a specialist said tendonitis from overuse. Started physical therapy for that as well.. This issues were not resolving quickly at all. 8 months later, I'm still having constant flare ups. These issues have also spread to my hands and shoulders. During the last 6 months, I switched to a mostly vegan diet (almond milk, vegan cheese etc,.). Since this time, my joints/tendons have been cracking/popping a lot. I also developed muscle twitches that happen all over my body, all throughout the day. I get randomly tingling feels in my hands and feet as well. These have been going on for several months now. I was going to the gym less and less because it felt like my muscles were taking so long to recover. What use to be sore for only 48 hours after working out now took almost a week to recover.

A couple little notes before I continue:
- I have never had any type of issues like this in my life before this year (diet change).
- Most the vegan food I was eating was "processed" vegan food

I won't describe anymore of my issues, I think you get the point. My body has felt like its been falling apart, I feel so vulnerable physically. I went to an arthritis doctor who did a physical exam and some blood tests - no arthritis at all, no inflammation markers/ anemia, most of my vitamin levels were fine (besides D). I went to a neurologist who couldn't find any physical issue at all, and apparently was not a big fan of veganism. I even got my thyroid and cortisol levels checked. Literally nothing has been able to explain my issues. In a last ditch effort to figure out what was going on, I attributed these issues to my diet change, and started eating meat again 2-3 months ago. I have noticed that my muscles do recover a little quicker after working out now, and my body gets inflamed a little less often, but i'm still having a lot of these issues i've described.

Has anyone ever experienced this? I was an extremely health 25 year old, and within 1 year of a diet change, I become a depressed anxious physically weak shell of who I was. The only thing I can think of since my vitamin levels were fine, is that I was not getting adequate protein with a vege/vegan diet, and with my very active lifestyle, my body just could not recover after all my activity, and it just continued to break down more and more. I don't think I'm suffering from any type of genetic disease, as all these issues have been brought on by physical activity. I'm hoping after a few more months of eating meat again, my body and mind will strengthen back to how it was before. Thanks for listening.
This is pretty odd.

But there are several good reasons for not blaming your diet.
Millions of other people are healthy vegetarians and vegans.
and you have had blood tests and physical exams and the only diagnosis was tendonitis.

Every once in a while we hear about a person who doesn't thrive as a vegan and the usual explanation is that everyone is different. I have always discounted the everyone is different explanation. IMHO, people are (biologically, chemically, metabolically) pretty similar.

( there may be some new evidence of everybody is different. I just read an article about this ( I am looking for it but can't seem to find it - I don't seem to remember the right keywords). it was about a new test that they were using on patients to diagnose things like allergies and sensitivities and getting some interesting results. I thought I remembered that the test was getting some good results in the treatment of IBS. )

I always subscribed to the idea that people weren't that different - they just did veganism wrong.

Or that lots of healthy people get sick no matter what.

There is probably good cause to do some double checking. You probably should start by talking to your doctor again. Perhaps there are additional blood tests that can be done. I did hear one story (but it may just be a story) that the HMO in order to save money had cut back on the screenings that a typical blood test has. So you might want to make sure that the blood test includes a B12 test. and if they can do further blood work. (if you hadn't had the blood test, I would suspect a B12 deficiency)

The other thing is.... Have you ever used CronOmeter?

It's a website. and if you pay them a few extra bucks it unlocks some features and you get the app too. but first try it out for free.

Its simple to use but does take a few extra minutes to first set up. And there is a bit of learning curve. The program also learns about you as you go and provides short cuts. I wouldn't change any of the RDAs that are preset in it in the beginning. But it is cool that you can adjust them and make them custom based on your own needs and stuff.

I would be surprised if Cronometer reveals any deficiencies that blood tests don't. but it is a quick and easy way to double check.

In the meantime, good luck and I hope you can figure this out. Let us know what happens.

Oh, BTW, what is all that stuff on the top of your post?
Did you happen to get tested for Lyme disease or other tick-borne illnesses? I see you’re in Georgia, where it’s not so common as up here in the north, but I know it is spreading throughout the east coast. Drs around here are pretty quick to test for it, but maybe not where you are. Both my husband and son deal with the lasting effects of Lyme, and their complaints sound a lot like yours. Inability to recover from exercise as quickly is a big thing my husband notices during flare-ups. Symptoms also seem to cycle and we haven’t been able to figure out the pattern. My husband and son have dealt with it with both standard medicine practices (antibiotics, steroid shots) and alternative methods (herbal treatments.) Neither of them are vegan, but both are realizing they feel better without dairy- it probably helps with the inflammation.
Did you take any fluoroquinolone antibiotics within a few months of developing these symptoms? These include meds like Ciprofloxacin, Levaquin. Floxin, etc.

Also, can you please use an app like CRON-O-METER and track your diet for a day or two and then report here with a screenshot of your micronutrient intakes.