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Vegan diet and intestinal health. Many studies have already proven that a high proportion of plant-based foods can contribute to increased intestinal health. We wanted to know exactly and asked an expert about his experience.
Dear Christian, thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions about vegan nutrition with a particular focus on intestinal health. Maybe you could introduce yourself briefly at the beginning so that our readers know who they are dealing with. Who are you, what do you do in your life and how did you get the name “Mr. Broccoli” came?
With pleasure: I am a certified health educator for healthy vegan nutrition. My focus is on increasing athletic performance and how you can look – and stay – young and slim without dieting! I am aimed at everyone who wants to optimize themselves and constantly improve, as well as those who are looking for better health. That's why I created the Vegan Athletes Blog, the Vegan Podcast and our programs. There is the right environment here, the “vegan athletes” who have the same goals in order to achieve them together
How did I get the name Mr. Broccoli? After living on the standard low-carb six-pack fitness trend for over 10 years and eating almost exclusively low-fat quark, I switched to a vegan diet in my early 30s. To compensate for my addiction to low-fat quark, I switched to carrots because I was missing the “chew” in my vegan diet. Unfortunately, after I turned yellow like Homer Simpson - from all the carrots - I switched to broccoli. Since then I have eaten about 1kg of broccoli (raw) every day :). Since I still haven't turned green, I've stuck with it so far. The name Mr. Broccoli It was only a logical consequence and a friend gave it to me after I brought out my own broccoli to eat in the restaurant.
How and why did you decide to adopt a vegan diet?
I chose a vegan diet because I have had neurodermatitis since I was a teenager. I had a milk protein allergy and so knew that the cause was in the milk. In my early 30s I gave up milk. A good friend also told me at the time that if I still wanted to eat meat, I should definitely pay attention to organic quality. When I stood at the meat counter in the organic market, I almost fell backwards because I saw for the first time what organic meat costs. Since then I have decided not to eat meat anymore. I haven't eaten sausage or cheese in the last few years anyway. After I had already left out the dairy products, there wasn't much left. A good friend of mine then said: “If you want to have a great six-pack, look good and be really fit, then you have to be vegan!” – and with that my vegan career was born.
“If you want to have a great six-pack, look good and be really fit, then you have to be vegan!”
When it comes to a vegan diet, many people think of going without and can't imagine what they can still eat. What does a typical “What Christian eats in a day” look like?
What Christian eats in a day? That looks super cool: Today, for example, I have half a liter of lemon water as soon as I get up, followed by a celery, wheatgrass or other green juice of my choice. Afterwards I exercise and make sure to drink a lot, sometimes matcha or green tea or just water. I also take my nutritional supplements, such as vitamin B, vitamin D, spirulina and chlorella. It's only at lunchtime that I actually start eating. There is either a vegetable stir-fry or steamed vegetables and, for example, peanut sauce or a green smoothie with spinach, coconut milk, cinnamon, pineapple, wild blueberries, topped with hemp seeds for optimal protein supply. Sometimes I also add a little protein powder to my smoothie, but less often. On top of that there is cocoa and a few delicious nuts, preferably walnuts - I usually soak them beforehand and let them dry to activate them and break down anti-nutrients. The whole thing is then dipped with broccoli. Depending on what I chose for lunch, there is the other option for the evening. I'm relatively unconventional and often eat the same things. But I also love homemade quark or yoghurt made from cashew nuts or soy milk. I like to add some cocoa and stevia and grate carrots.
Vegan and athletic performance, does that go together? What are your experiences, also in terms of fat loss and muscle building?
Absolutely, I've had very good experiences with it, especially when it comes to fat loss. This works great with a vegan diet. Weight loss is particularly common when switching to a vegan diet. If you eat a healthier diet with lots of raw vegetables, you can lose weight very well. You should add plenty of protein-rich foods, such as legumes or sprouted protein shakes.
To build muscle, you should of course eat more, increase the protein content and also supplement, for example with protein shakes or high-quality amino acids. It is really important that you make sure you have enough calories, because many people tend to eat too little, especially when starting a vegan diet - this is because the volume is often larger and you therefore feel full more quickly. As a result, many people lose weight - without even wanting to. I recommend tracking calories for 1-2 weeks and being slightly in a calorie surplus - then you can build muscle really well!
Have you noticed any changes in your gut health since going vegan? What is your gut feeling about a vegan diet?
I definitely noticed changes, but I didn't have any complaints during the change. It is said that fiber is very good and that we usually don't eat enough of it. However, with a vegan diet with a high proportion of raw vegetables, it is often the case that the fiber content quickly becomes too high. If that's the case, I also tend to get bloated. You should be careful! But if the balance is right, my intestinal health is great with a vegan diet. In general, my intestines feel great when I eat more green vegetables and reduce the amount of fruit. I've never had constipation since I've been on a vegan diet. My tip is definitely unprocessed, raw vegan foods and products that have the shortest possible list of ingredients - for me that is the most gut-friendly approach.
What else has changed since you went vegan?
My environment has changed, i.e. the people I surround myself with. My job has also changed because I simply work more with vegan and sustainably oriented people and automatically attract them into my life because it is my passion. My appearance has also changed, I look more youthful. My neurodermatitis is gone and I have optimized my figure and my health through good exercise like Freeletics.
What is your ultimate tip for a good gut feeling?
My ultimate tip for feeling good about your gut, as I've said before, is to eat unprocessed raw plant foods - of all colors and varieties, seasonally grown - along with green juices and sprouts.
You have already tested the myBioma microbiome analysis. Many people have their blood checked regularly, but forget that the microbiome plays an essential role in our health and well-being. Do you have your intestinal health checked regularly and why?
Yes, I have my intestines checked regularly, simply because I want to know what's going on. Even if I'm feeling good at the moment, it's possible that there's already an imbalance and I haven't noticed it yet. Of course I want to know that. And I want to know if something is out of balance, if I don't feel well, if I have problems or maybe I'm sick, what could be the cause. Since a large part of our health comes from the intestines and that is where most of the microbes that influence our health live, it is essential for me to have my intestines examined.
With the myBioma microbiome analysis you can have your own intestinal microbiome tested from the comfort of your own home. Based on your results, you will receive nutritional suggestions to improve your gut health. You can choose between vegan and general nutritional suggestions.
Vegan diet and gut health: what's your opinion?
My opinion: Yes, vegan nutrition and intestinal health go very well together. I don't believe that our intestines are designed to eat meat and dairy products. We simply have a different intestine than carnivores. Many scientific studies have already proven that a plant-based vegan diet has a positive effect on intestinal health and general health. Therefore an excellent pair! It doesn't fit like a glove, but like a cat fits a dog.
Thank you dear Christian for this exciting interview. If you would like to find out more about Christian, please take a look at his Instagram profile: @mr.broccoli.vegan over or on the Vegan Athletes Homepage.
This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical information or instructions. The recipes are intended for inspiration and are not intended as therapeutic measures. If you have any health problems, we recommend that you contact a doctor or other expert immediately.