Veganism and digestive problems

Doug

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I am having good luck on the Dean Ornish Spectrum (with heart disease reversal) program since I got out of the hospital. The diet is essentially vegan + no added oils + no nuts + no seeds. I've lost a lot of weight. And my energy levels are fine. Overall I feel very good.
My only remaining issue (and I thought I had this licked) are digestive problems. I don't like going into all the gory details, but basically the problems impact on my ability to go out to meetings and generally having a more active, comfortable life. I feel I need to be near a bathroom all the time, which is not something I experienced before.
Recently I eliminated legumes, which I think were a big part of the problem. But I still have the problem enough to bother me. Now I'm thinking I'm eating too many vegetables. Or just too much fiber in general.
Yes, yes. I know that fiber is "good for you" but maybe I need to cut back more and introduce fiber more slowly. It's been several weeks now, and my body doesn't seem to be adjusting to this aspect. I've tried all the solutions I've read about like drinking lots of waters, eating more rice, trying bananas, etc. But so far it hasn't helped. So I'm thinking of cutting back some more on the vegetables.
But if I cut back to mostly rice, noodles and tofu, I'm worried about whether I'm getting all the essential proteins I need. I know that legumes really help with the protein part of it, but… they are a bit too much right now, digestively speaking. Delicious though.
Could I just make up needed proteins with supplements? Anybody have any other practical suggestions other than "stick it out and hope my body eventually adjusts"?
Thanks,
doug
 
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mlp

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It does sound to me as though this has been a too big and sudden change for your body to handle comfortably.

People don't need as much protein as most Americans believe from all of the meat industry sponsored advertisements, and we get it in many ways other than through meat and legumes. Heck, raw foodists do fine in the protein area, without eating legumes. So I really wouldn't worry about supplementing protein while your body is transitioning to a plant based diet, especially if your avoidance of legumes is temporary. And if your body is tolerating tofu, you are getting a lot of protein there.

Have you tried quinoa or barley? Whole grains are a good source of protein and other nutrients.

If you think that part of the problem is the sudden increase in fiber, instead of eating less in the form of veggies, try eating some of the vegetables and fruits that aren't as fiber intensive.
 

Pickle Juice

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If it is a gas problem, digestive enzymes will help your body get accustomed gradually to increasing fiber. If loose stools are the trouble, eating more starchy foods like potatoes should stiffen things up a bit.

Welcome to VV. :)
 
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Doug

Doug

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Hi, Pickle.

It's both.

I've tried bean enzyme and it does absolutely nothing.

I'll try more starchy foods and see how it goes.

Thanks,

Doug
 

Pickle Juice

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Hi, Pickle.

It's both.

I've tried bean enzyme and it does absolutely nothing.

I'll try more starchy foods and see how it goes.

Thanks,

Doug
Oh no, go to a health food store and get a complete digestive enzyme supplement. After a month, you should probably not need one anymore, but I have found that they really do help. It might just be that your body hasn't caught up with the need to produce more of the enzymes that break down plant sugars. It isn't always fiber that causes problems.
 
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Doug

Doug

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Mlp,

I neglected to answer your question about quinoa and barley. Sometimes I will have mugihan (barley rice). I have never tried quinoa. I've heard about it though. I don't know if it's sold in my local supermarket, but will check.

Pickle,

I don't really have "health food stores" here, but the pharmacy has a couple of dozen of "Natural Made" brand products. Is it just called "complete digestive enzyme"?

Thanks,

doug
 
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Doug

Doug

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Mlp, love your signature (copying that to a friend now)...

How much protein do we need? According to the government web site on this (but who knows with them) as a 56 year old male I need 56 gm a day. But I heard that people really need a lot less protein than is generally thought.

For breakfast right now I'm going to have some rice with dried ume on top for crunch and flavoring, and a banana on the side. That's only 6 gm of protein. Plus I heard rice doesn't include all 20 essential amino acids.

Oh, and while I'm being "essentially vegan" I am allowing (as per Dean Ornish's guide) a fish oil supplement every day.

Thanks,

doug
 

Penny79

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First of all, if you are eating tofu, you are not avoiding legumes, since soy is a soybean (classified under "legumes").

How much rice are you eating? I am showing 1 cup of brown rice (cooked) is 5 g. protein and 1 banana is 2 g. protein. However, that is only about 300-350 calories. I don't know many people who only eat 300-350 calories for their breakfast (or other meals before noon). Might I suggest two breakfasts if yours is so small?

We'd need more information re: your food intake, amount, and approximate times to help.

But yeah, try eating more simply for a while, not too many combinations, and make sure the fruit you eat is ripe.
Give us an update.
 

Penny79

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P.S., I am an active/muscular female and I shoot for about 70-80 g. protein per day, or about 6-8% of my calories.
 
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Doug

Doug

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Hi, Penny.

Good point about the tofu. The tofu I eat has 13 gm of protein in one 200 gm package.

For a typical serving, I'll have 200 g of cooked rice. That's 5 gm of protein. I had been having just one serving a day, but decided to switch my breakfast from gen'mai (brown rice) flakes to rice (to see if that helped with the digestive problems), so maybe I'll be having 2 servings of rice a day. Or maybe soba instead of rice sometime. Or quinoa if I can find that.

Anyway, except for the tofu the stuff I'm eating has some protein in it, but not large amounts. And I'm not eating huge amounts of tofu.

You are pretty much on target about the calories - I calculate 389 calories just now for my breakfast. My profile picture (which I just took a few days ago) doesn't show it well, but I am very overweight. My doctor is having me on an 1800 calorie/day diet. I started the Ornish program for health, and I have found that if you eliminate (essentially all) animal products as well as added oils, nuts and seeds it's almost impossible to eat as many as 1800 calories a day! So I'm happy to say I am finding it easy to lose weight on this diet. I've lost over 18 lb so far. So I definitely don't want to double-up on breakfasts. My overriding health need right now is to drastically lose weight to control blood sugar. That outweighs (no pun intended) everything else for now. Also, by eliminating animal products I am eliminating cholesterol, and hopefully reversing heart disease.

I have also given up my moped and bought a bicycle and am using that instead, plus taking daily bicycle rides along a nearby river. So I am increasing my exercise too - a lot for me, and increasing slowly each day. I really like the bike rides along the river. Very pleasant.

As for my profile, I am an obese, sedentary male with high blood sugar who just got out of the hospital after having a heart attack. Our profiles are a bit different. :)

Thanks,

doug
 

Penny79

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Supplementing with protein powder might not be such a bad idea then. Have you tried green smoothies or green soups? Are avocados a no-no for you?
 
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Doug

Doug

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Avocados are a no-no because of, I think, saturated fat. I'm not sure what a green smoothie is. Or a green soup for that matter. :) I keep trying to find a completely vegan miso soup, but all the prepared ones contain some fish powder. I'll check out protein powder.

Thanks again!

doug
 

Pickle Juice

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Mlp,

I neglected to answer your question about quinoa and barley. Sometimes I will have mugihan (barley rice). I have never tried quinoa. I've heard about it though. I don't know if it's sold in my local supermarket, but will check.

Pickle,

I don't really have "health food stores" here, but the pharmacy has a couple of dozen of "Natural Made" brand products. Is it just called "complete digestive enzyme"?

Thanks,

doug
Yes sounds like it.
 
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Digger

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Doug, what part of the world do you live in currently? It may help us to make suggestions for you.

Welcome to VV!
 
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Doug

Doug

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Mlp, thanks. I'll go by a pharmacy today and see what they have.

High, Jimmy. I live in Tokyo.

Thanks,

doug
 
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Doug

Doug

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Speaking of Tokyo, it's all but impossible to find whole grain products here. None of the large supermarkets in my neighborhood sell whole wheat bread or whole wheat pasta. It is possible to buy brown rice and cook it yourself, but you never will find anything but hikarikoshi white rice in restaurants or bento, etc. I think soba is always whole grain, so that's probably ok. Maybe it's a mix of soba and wheat though.

Anyway,while I know whole grain products are better, I'm doing the best I can and mostly eating the refined grain products available.

doug
 
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mlp

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Doug, I neglected to welcome you to VV earlier. Welcome! I'm glad my signature amused you. :)

Penny and Pickle Juice are both knowledgeable on matters of nutrition and health; I'm more fly-by-the-seat-of my-pants.

Are their any online shopping resources available to you, which might at least help you in laying in some staples?

And for the other board members - does anyone have any way of contacting Clarita Osita? I don't know whether she's still living in Japan, but even if she's left there, she would know about where one could find vegan/health products.
 
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Doug

Doug

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Hi, MLP. Your signature is, even as we speak, making the rounds amongst my friends. :)

There are probably some online sources for getting whole wheat pasta. I'm pretty much out of luck as far as whole wheat bread goes, unless I regularly want to travel more than an hour one-way to one shop I know which may have it. (My freezer is pretty small, so I can't stock up that way.)

Thanks,

doug
 

Pickle Juice

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Avocados are a no-no because of, I think, saturated fat. I'm not sure what a green smoothie is. Or a green soup for that matter. :) I keep trying to find a completely vegan miso soup, but all the prepared ones contain some fish powder. I'll check out protein powder.

Thanks again!

doug
A green smoothie is a mixture of fresh raw greens and fruits, made in a blender. I usually just make them from a few bananas, a couple of handfuls of spinach, kale, or collards, an orange, and strawberries, blueberries, mango, pineapple, or any combination. Other people add soy or nutmilks to these. They sound very odd at first, but you do not taste the greens, you just end up with a smoothie that is fruity and mildly sweet, but with a fresh quality to it that lightens the fruitiness a little.

It's crazy that you can't get miso paste in Tokyo! I can get tubs of miso paste with nothing added but miso in the local grocery stores here in California. I usually buy the fresh paste in the refrigerated section, but I have also seen miso paste in aseptic packaging. You don't usually need more than a spoonful or so of paste to make a cup of soup. It is worth asking a market to order for you if you can't find it.
 
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Doug

Doug

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The smoothie sounds good. I'll have to check out getting a blender.

Oh, I can get miso paste here! Sorry for the confusion. They have practically an entire aisle in my supermarket with all kinds of varieties. I wonder how long they last - the tubs are pretty big.

I meant the prepared kind that comes with a package of seasonings and little dried veggies that get restored when you add the hot water, like you would get in a restaurant as a side-dish with your meal. I would like to find those packages of little veggies and dried tofu bits and whatever, but without the powdered fish.

doug