As a massage therapist, you spend your days helping others achieve higher levels of health and wellness through the art of massage therapy.As a result, your clients experience many benefits, including improved circulation, lower levels of stress and more relaxed muscles . But what about your health?
Although being as healthy as you can possibly be requires a multidimensional approach that involves a variety of different actions and behaviors, there’s no denying that the foods you eat can either make your health better or worse.
That’s why some massage therapists choose to stick to a vegan diet, which is a diet that contains no animal products whatsoever, effectively eliminating the consumption of meat, fish, dairy and eggs.
Why Go Vegan?Jeannette von Johnsbach is a massage therapist at the Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, in private practice, and founder of The Andreas Method who first stopped eating meat and fish 23 years ago when she was in India.
Von Jonsbach adds that she has been eating a vegan, predominantly living foods diet for the past 18 years.
When asked what continues to draw her to a vegan diet, von Johnsbach shares that vegan food gives an abundance of energy and clarity and is very kind to creation and life.
Plus, she says the foods taste better. “I practiced chewing each bite 100 times and when you do this, animal products taste worse by the second, while foods from the plant kingdom are delicious,” says von Johnsbach.
Spending the first five years as a vegan eating only raw foods, von Johnsbach says was when she really started to understand what it means nourishing the body on all levels with food.
“The sheer amount of physical energy, emotional freedom and mental clarity, and heightened sense of intuition you can experience once you eat really close to nature without adulterating is phenomenal,” she says. “Life is so much better when we are vibrant and have lots of energy.”
Eating vegan also enables you to consume fewer harmful substances as “going straight to the source in the food chain cuts out toxins,” says von Johnsbach. “The immune system is so much stronger on living foods,” she adds.
But what does science have to say about eating vegan?
The Science Behind Eating VeganAccording to an article published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, there are many health benefits to eating a vegan diet, a diet which tends to be high in fiber and a number of different nutrients (specifically folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin E, potassium, and magnesium).
Another study in Nutrients showed that the benefits of this include having lower cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure, as well as being able to maintain a lower weight. All of these together can reduce your risk of heart disease. Being vegan also offers protection against type-2 diabetes, obesity and hypertension.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) adds that eating a plant-based diet can also help you live longer. In fact, one study followed more than 73,000 people over six years and, based on the deaths that occurred during that time, the people who ate some type of plant-based diet—whether vegan, lacto-ovo vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian, or semi-vegetarian—“were 12 percent less likely to die from all causes combined compared to nonvegetarians.”
The NIH further noted that people who ate a plant-based diet had “a lower rate of death due to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and renal disorders such as kidney failure,” specifically. The numbers also showed that this link was stronger for men than for women.
Although eating a vegan diet provides a lot of benefits, transitioning to a food plan that no longer includes meat can be a challenge for some people. That’s why, in her private practice, von Johnsbach spends her time helping people better adjust to a plant-based diet.
“An individualized diet takes into consideration lifestyle, demands, seasons, and one’s own constitution,” says von Johnsbach. “I love how applying the laws of food energetics can transform the results of a well-rounded vegan diet.”
Tips for Eating a Healthy Vegan DietIf you’re ready to make this change, von Johnsbach shares that, when she first became a vegetarian, she noticed that she felt cold so she thought vegetarianism wasn’t for her.
“I just didn’t understand what eating dairy does to your body,” says von Johnsbach, “and that if you don’t eat meat, you need to make sure to include greens in your diet, in order to build blood.”
In fact, getting greens in one’s diet is “probably the most important dietary advice I give to friends and clients,” says von Johnsbach. “Chlorophyll-rich foods act as a form of stored sunshine, performing like vitamin D in the body.”
It’s also important to educate yourself on plant-based sources of protein such as quinoa, hempseeds, lentils and almonds, so you are not depriving yourself of this essential nutrient.
Von Johnsbach also warns that not all vegan diets are created equal. There are junk vegan diets that include lots of soy, flour, sugar and processed oils, or even GMO [genetically modified organisms] and pesticides. This is not a healthy vegan diet, she says.
After all, French fries, pasta and lollipops can all be vegan but are not wholesome options.
Instead, you want to focus on living, biogenic foods, says von Johnsbach, which means eating more fresh fruits and vegetables (including sea vegetables) and fermented foods. Von Johnsbach calls these nutritional powerhouses, which she believes are life-generating.
Sprouted nuts, seeds and legumes are also important, as she believes “sprouts are the most energy charged, alkaline producing, most life-generating foods available in your kitchen,” says von Johnsbach.
The good news is, “the body will crave nutrient dense, real whole foods when it is given the chance,” says von Johnsbach. “It has nothing to do with willpower.”
And the key to helping your body crave these natural foods is to “stop the refined sugar and refined flour, as these trigger a real addiction cycle in the body,” she says.
About the Author
Christina DeBusk is a freelance writer dedicated to providing readers relevant, research-backed content related to health and wellness, personal development, safety, and small business ownership.