This is a post listing and discussing some of the problems I have cured or improved as a vegan or lacto-ovo-vegetarian.
Eczema. For most of my childhood, as I can remember, I was plagued with eczema, especially on my feet, ankles, and knees. I still have faint scars from itching and bleeding. When going vegetarian and focusing on eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and properly hydrating, my eczema quickly vanished. I would occasionally feel it start to come back, especially when not properly hydrating, but eczema has not returned since giving up dairy. Drinking lots of water is very important for eliminating eczema, and, in the winter, putting oils (I like jojoba) on my feet and ankles every week or two makes my skin less dry.
Mental fogginess. As described in my post about how I got to where I am as a vegan, going vegetarian was like seeing light for the first time. My grades went from normal to stellar, I found positive friendships for the first time, and I started to get a sense of my place in this world. In high school, however, things started getting worse consciousness wise because my positive friends had all gone to different schools, I got so much homework that I did not have time to do the things I most enjoyed, and, most significantly, I really started under eating. During this time was when I went vegan. Things temporarily got worse because I did not realize how low in calories vegan foods are and how much more I needed to eat. As soon as I started really trying to eat enough, things got better. Mental clarity is back! For me, food and sleep are the most important ingredients for a functional mind (and body).
Tendency to break bones. I am not really sure if this is a health problem I actually had, or if it was just coincidence, but I was in a cast a lot as a kid. While I have only broken bones twice, I was in a cast for six months for a broken foot, which took twice the expected healing time and for three months for a broken wrist, and I had a growth plate issue that caused my foot to be in a cast an additional three or four months. This might not seem like that much, but it all happened within 2 years, the two years before going vegetarian. While I am still fairly clumsy and injure myself in minor ways all the time, I have not gotten any cast-requiring, bone-breaking injuries since going vegetarian. Whether or not a vegetarian diet has actually fixed this problem for me is uncertain. However, acidic foods like meat and dairy have the potential to leach calcium from bones, so I would bet that my bone health is a lot better since changing my diet.
Being overweight. I was fairly overweight when I was younger. I was only sort of chubby for most of my life, but when the injuries started coming one after another, my weight became a real problem. I could not participate in gym class, play sports, or even, in some cases, go for walks outside. The complete lack of exercise, along with the Standard American Diet, caused me to become quite overweight. When I went vegetarian, I did not even have to try to lose weight. Despite having the biggest growth spurt of my life, I was dropping pounds like crazy, and weight loss continued for a solid two years. My weight has kind of fluctuated since then, but, as you can guess, I am not overweight anymore.
Acid reflux. A lot of people in my family have issues with acid reflux. If you do not know what this is, it is an awful burning in the esophagus, usually caused directly by something that was eaten. Dairy never seemed to be the cause my acid reflux. I would eat ice cream, cereal with milk, and cheese without any acid reflux problem. Things like dried fruit and especially orange juice really brought it on. To my surprise, giving up dairy made acid reflux go away completely. I now can drink up to four glasses of orange juice, eat as much dried fruit as I want, and enjoy several sour grapefruits without any issues. Since being vegan, acid reflux has only reappeared thrice, once when accidentally consuming something containing chicken broth, another time from eating too many underripe bananas, and lastly from a multi-vitamin designed for vegan teenagers that I stopped taking.
Easy bruising. Even while I was vegetarian, friends used to say, “Abby, you bruise like a peach.” This was totally truthful. I often had ten bruises on my two legs alone, with new ones perpetually arriving as old ones went away. My hips were black and blue. My arms and wrists had bruises too. I was probably deficient in something. Well, over the years, especially since transitioning to veganism, my bruising seems to be normal. Rather than being dark, black, blue, and purple, my bruises now are usually light pink, and I have between zero and three at any given time. Thanks veganism!
Dry and rash-prone skin. I already touched on this in describing how I cured eczema, but I want to mention how the vegan diet and lifestyle has made my skin even better. Even while I was vegetarian, I would use expensive lotion all the time to keep my skin under control. I have very, very sensitive skin, and I have gotten rashes as a result of clothing, soaps and lotions, allergies, the cold, dry air, chlorine, and other things. Switching to a vegan diet, discontinuing my use of non-vegan lotions and soaps, and choosing sustainable vegan clothing has improved my skin tremendously. Chlorine (I work at a pool) still causes me problems, but the vegan lifestyle really has fixed almost all of my skin problems.
Poor digestion. When I was lacto-ovo-vegetarian, I had really, really bad digestion. Having one bowel movement a week was totally normal for me, and it was awful. Now that I don’t have dairy and eggs blocking my colon, my digestion is great! Other than that and eating a whole lot of fruit, I have found that drinking enough water, getting good sleep, exercising, and limiting my intake of things I know cause me issues also helps with my digestion.
Headaches. Headaches have been an on and off issue for me. I got a concussion in ninth grade, which was when I started having significant headaches and motion sickness for the first time. In tenth and eleventh grade, I had headaches all the time, even though I was vegetarian and vegan. I eventually realized that my headaches, even now, are caused by two primary things: lack of food and lack of sleep. The headache even concentrates in two different areas of my head for these two causes. All I have to do is sleep and eat (especially carbs), and my headache will usually get better or go away completely. Surprisingly, eating even helps me with motion sickness. I know these things will not fix everyone’s headaches, but being hungry and especially tired is never good for a headache.
Depressive symptoms. The period of my life during which symptoms of depression were a significant issue ended with my discovery of high-carb, low-fat veganism. What do people crave when they are feeling low? Carbs. Carbohydrates make people happy, and they have the potential to be healthy, as long as they aren’t coated in chemicals, hormones, and unnatural amounts of fat. Eating lots of low-fat carbohydrates such as fruit, rice, and potatoes really did make my life better.
Allergies. This is a big one. Allergies started to affect me when I was a little kid. I missed so much school, thinking I was sick, that I got behind in math and reading, and I often felt too ill to play outside. In fourth grade, I missed at least one day of school each week. I began taking allergy medicine in fifth grade, and it helped a lot, but after a while, over-the-counter drugs did not work anymore, so I started getting prescription medicine. I am allergic to lots of things, such as flowers and grass and trees and dust and cats and dogs, and they usually cause me to have itchy eyes, a stuffy nose, rashes, and/or a sore throat. I used prescription allergy medicine for six years. Last year, right around the time I started looking into high-carb veganism, I decided to stop using it. At first, I felt a lot better. I noticed that i was a lot less tired, and I did well on 8.5 hours of sleep, unlike the 10 or so I needed before. Mental clarity also seemed to improve a little. Going through the seasons and spending time with friends who have pets has shown me that my allergies are not cured, but they are better. I do not miss any school due to allergies, and I only notice a sore throat in the morning when I did not properly hydrate the day before. I can usually spend about 20 minutes around pets themselves before having problems, but this really depends on the pet. This might still sound bad to some people, but it is an unimaginable improvement. It also makes me happy that I do not have to rely on pills anymore to feel healthy.
These are the problems that have been fixed or improved through the vegan and vegetarian diet and lifestyle. While I know not all problems can be cured this way, diet has a huge impact on health, and vegan testimonials regarding all sorts of problems can be found throughout the Internet.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comment section!