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Thinking of becoming a vegetarian?

Discussion in 'Dietetics' started by Hala, Feb 20, 2014.

  1. Hala

    Hala Golden Member Verified Doctor

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    Are you thinking of becoming a vegetarian? You aren't alone. People become vegetarians every day, and for many different reasons. For some, it's religious reasons that dictate a vegetarian lifestyle; for others, it's animal rights and health reasons.


    Eating a vegetarian diet has been linked to a reduced risk of coronary artery disease, obesity, hypertension (also referred to as high blood pressure), and some forms of cancer. Be forewarned, though, just because you aren't eating meat doesn't mean that your diet is always healthier than that of your carnivorous friends! To be a "good" vegetarian, you need to monitor your daily intake of nutrients, such as iron, protein, calcium, and vitamin B12. Don't worry, there are healthy and delicious options to ensure that you're getting everything you need!


    All vegetarians can consume iron-rich diets by carefully planning their meals. Nuts such as pistachios, almonds, and cashews are all sources of iron. Breakfast cereals that are enriched with iron are also good choices - check the nutrition label on the side of the box. Lacto-ovo vegetarians (vegetarians who eat dairy and eggs) can also enjoy Muesli, a popular German cereal that is very high in iron and often contains yogurt, which a vegan (a vegetarian who eats no animal products) would not eat.


    Humans need protein to ensure healthy growth, strong immunity, and to avoid loss of muscle mass. Naturally-occurring amino acids are found in the proteins of animal products. They are the building blocks of proteins we need for our bodies. These amino acids are not in vegetable-based proteins. Vegetarians need to eat many different kinds of proteins to ensure that they are getting enough of the amino acids for protein building.


    Nuts are a delicious source of protein but be careful - they are very high in calories due to their fat levels. Beans such as lentils, low fat cheeses, cottage cheese, and egg whites are other excellent sources of protein with lower fat levels. Many vegetarians eat soy-based products, such as tofu and bean curd, to ensure that they are getting enough protein in their diets to remain healthy. There are also many delicious soy-based meat alternative products that are sold at your local grocery store in the produce section that can provide you with easily accessible protein-rich foods.


    It is easier for lacto-ovo vegetarians than a vegan to ensure that their diet is rich enough in calcium to be healthy. A lacto-ovo vegetarian can get calcium from milk, cheese, and other dairy products. Calcium is important for preventing bone loss, which can lead to osteoporosis - a condition where a person's bone density diminishes severely, and it may lead to bone fractures.


    Many vegetarians find it difficult to keep their levels of vitamin B12 at a sufficient level since the primary sources of B12 are meat products. Have no fear! Those same meat alternative products that contain protein are also often high in B12. These will give you the nutrients you're looking for. vitamin B12 is essential for the body's maintenance of nerve cells and red blood cells.


    Being careful of what you eat is very important, but many vegetarians also take supplements to ensure that they are getting enough of these important nutrients. There are a few things about supplements that you should know about. For example, some calcium supplements are made from animal products, such as sea shells, and would not be suitable for a strict vegan who does not consume any animal product. Some vegetarians may wish to avoid supplements in capsule forms as they are generally made from animal sources. Vitamin B12 and iron supplementation should be considered as well.


    Don't forget that a regular blood test with your yearly check-up can inform you of whether your diet and supplements are keeping you healthy. And remember, just because you're a vegetarian doesn't mean that you can't enjoy the occasional order of French fries and a chocolate bar. It just means you have to be sure you eat other things, too!





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  2. wilsonmadison

    wilsonmadison Active member

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    Hello Hala,

    Some days before i read two articles on vegetarian diet and non vegetarian food. I found that in one article it is written that eating red meat leads to cancer whereas in another one i found that eating meat is a good source of vitamin and proteins. If possible, then please give me a brief idea on it.

    Thanks.!
     

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