“It was a tough choice to go back to eating animal protein, but it changed my health for the better,” said Larell Scardelli. She began her vegetarian lifestyle at the age of 15 with her best friend because of her love for animals. Eight years later, she’s back to eating meat.
As a vegetarian, Scardelli would consume beans as her main source of protein and thought that all carbs were created equal. “I also didn’t fully understand what was going on behind the scenes of the animal production, or that there could be ethical ways to consume animal meat and fish, mainly because I was terrified of what I would learn. And I didn’t understand the toll that not getting the right nutrients was taking on my body—and my skin,” she said. Was excluding meat from her diet really benefiting her health?
Once Scardelli reached her twenties, she started to develop adult-onset cystic acne. She tried everything from blood pressure medicine to birth control, to acne drugs to countless expensive creams to deal with the red marks covering her face. Scardelli consulted with her doctor about her situation and discussed her diet and lifestyle is the cause of her cystic acne.
Little did she know that major changes were coming her way. Later that day, she went to go have dinner with her her mother. Her mother had cooked her a plain piece of organic, free-range chicken and left it on the counter for her. Scardelli ate the chicken and absolutely loved it.
A problem with Scardelli was that she was not getting enough amino acids which is an important element to proper health. There are 9 essential amino acids that our bodies need but are unable to produce. “Animal protein covers the 9 essential amino acids, but plant and vegetable sources are simpler organisms that do not always contain all 9,” says Brandon Mentore, a functional medicine practitioner, and sports nutritionist. Scardelli soon began to find out which foods worked for her body by adding more nutrients to her diet.
She also tried something called an Elimination Diet, recommended by her doctor, which is when you eliminate a variety of foods from your diet and then slowly consume them again. This helps identify which foods you’re sensitive to and reduce immune system inflammation. Gretchen Hanson, vegan chef and health coach, advises many vegan and vegetarian clients to consider returning to animal protein when they are experiencing health issues.
Eating the same nutrient source can actually lead to health problems such as intolerance, acne, and autoimmunity. This may not always be the case, but some nutritionists say that eating the same nutrient source raises the immune and inflammatory responses. It doesn’t hurt to add some variety to your diet! Try different sources of protein like eggs, nuts, seeds, and fish.
Two and a half years after eating meat again, Scardelli is living cystic acne free. Watching what you eat and its effects on your body are very important. “Through the elimination diet, I learned that I have sensitivities to dairy and yeast. No more pizza for me. And I changed other things, too,” she said. Not everyone may have the same situation as her as there are other factors that could come into play like genetics, ancestry and geographical environment.
Those who are on a vegetarian diet should be adding a variety of food sources to their meals. It’s important to get the amino acids your body needs. Pay attention to your hair, skin, and nails for any signs. They shouldn’t appear dry, cracked, or itchy. Also, consider improving your nutrition if you’re fatigued or are experiencing digestive problems.
(Source: Rodale’s Organic Life)