‘Tis the time of year for weight loss challenges, detoxes, cleanses, and other health challenges and I am no exception. I have signed myself and my husband up for Diane Sanfilippo’s 21-Day Sugar Detox Program to help us kick sugar and carb cravings to the street!

So what is Doctor DiNezza’s New Year’s Vegan Challenge? It has two parts.

1. If you are thinking of going vegan in an effort to get healthier this year this part of the challenge is for you. First of all, be aware that I rarely recommend that anybody follow a vegan diet, but I think that there are some good take-aways we can glean from vegans. Eat less processed foods, be aware of the ingredients in foods, eat a variety of vegetables- all of these are the keystones to a good diet. If you are still considering trying a vegan diet this spring, I highly recommend- nay, challenge you to run a complete set of blood work on yourself* both before changing your diet and after maintaining that diet for three months. This will not only show you how your body is responding to your new diet and if you should keep doing it, but it will help guide you should you need supplements or vitamins.

2. If you are already a vegan this new year, this part of the challenge is for you.
Like I did for the aspiring vegans above, I challenge you to test whether or not your vegan diet is really as healthy as you think it is. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies (not just Iron and B vitamins), hormonal problems and immune problems abound in even the healthiest of vegan dieters, so it is absolutely critical to run good*blood work and laboratory testing.

In both groups I recommend the following tests:
1. A full set of basic labs (like this panel) including a FULL thyroid panel (include antibodies)
2. A fat soluble vitamin (Vitamin A, D, E and K) panel like this one from Genova
3. An omega-3/omega-6 ratio test from Lipid Labs

*Don’t bother going to your GP or primary care MD for these tests- I can almost guarantee they won’t run them for you. Find yourself a functional medicine doctor (read here and here) and specifically ask them if they can run these tests for you.

So there you have it, folks. Doctor DiNezza’s New Year’s Vegan Challenge is to find out once and for all if a vegan diet is really right for you. Let your lab work do the talking and remember, dietary choices are health choices. If your new diet doesn’t appear to be healthy for you then you should try to find something that suites your needs better. Stopping a diet in this context doesn’t make you a quitter- it just means you learned something from the experience and made another choice based on new information. Be careful not to get pulled into the cult-mentality of any one diet (vegan, vegetarian, paleo) and make your health your number 1 priority this spring.

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If you or somebody you know is interested in working with a functional medicine doctor please call my office at (919) 238-4094 and see if we are the right fit for you. ​Infinity Holistic Healthcare is located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, part of the Raleigh-Durham “triangle” area.

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