Vegetarian Diets are Healthy Diets

Balanced vegetarian diets are healthy diets that provide essential nutrients while keeping weight down naturally. Also, vegetarians have few ills linked to fat consumption.

Different Types of Vegetarians

Strict vegetarians, or vegans, who totally exclude any animal products from their diets:

Ovolactovegetarians, who include dairy products and eggs in their diets:

Lactovegetarians, who supplement plant foods only with dairy products:

Pescatarians, who include fish, dairy products and eggs in their diets, have one of the more healthy diets.

A Walking, Talking Chemistry Laboratory

We are complicated “food factories”, and we need to make sure that we have a balanced diet so that our body can function correctly, have exceptional energy, and a strong circulatory system and immune system. There is no short-cutting our nutritional needs, but it is easy to find a balance for optimum health and wellness with a little knowledge about healthy diets and healthy foods.

Until the most recent times, grains were the staple diet, while meat was a luxury reserved for the wealthy few. Today, in our affluent society with its huge surpluses of plant foods, we use grain to fatten stock animals like cows, so they actually have the healthy diets, and we do not! Critics contend that this is a wasteful use of resources, because it takes less grain to feed a person directly than it takes to fatten animals to feed that person.

On the whole, Americans obtain twice as much protein as is needed, and experts in medicine and nutrition warn that we are paying for our high consumption of meat and animal products with record rates of heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, and other disorders. A report by the Physicians committee for Responsible Medicine, a group that advocates vegetarianism, stated that Americans spend some 60 billion dollars a year to treat illnesses related to a high meat diet.

Vegetarianism today has many advocates among people concerned with ecological issues, such as environmental pollution and population growth, as well concerns about obesity which is directly related to a high meat diet. There is also emerging research showing a strong connection between some types of cancer and a high meat diet. The food pyramid as it stands, is not a healthy eating pyramid, and really does not focus on healthy diets for those who follow the guidelines, some of which have been influenced by special interest groups for mega food conglomerates such as the dairy industry.

Health Benefits of a Vegetarian Diet

As a group, vegetarians clearly enjoy certain health advantages over meat eaters. For example:

• Obesity is rare among vegetarians because of the high fiber and bulk of the foods consumed, the low fat, and relatively low calories;

• Vegetarians enjoy lower blood cholesterol levels than meat eaters, with vegans (strict vegetarians) having the lowest of all.

• Studies show that a cholesterol-free plant-based diet that is also low in saturated fats can reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, heart disease and stroke.

Vegetarians have lower blood pressure than meat eaters do and are less likely to develop:

• Hypertension;

• Intestinal disorders, such as constipation and diverticulosis;

• Osteoporosis;

• Kidney stones;

• Gallstones and;

• Adult onset diabetes.

A balanced vegetarian diet is what healthy diets should be. Holistic Medicine supports this way of life. (Holistic Medicine has to do with “whole body healing”, beginning with the diet).

The protein intake, and increase is not as critical for ovolactovegetarians. These individuals include dairy products and eggs in their diets, which widens the availability of the necessary proteins required for good health. Lactovegetarians who supplement their vegetarian diets only with dairy products also have less difficulty meeting their protein requirements. go to: Vegetarians and Nutrition: Eating Healthy Dairy products should be used in moderation due to some concerns about how much dairy should be in healthy diets, as well as dairy products effects on cancer. Look for my upcoming article on dairy products and the cancer link.

Perhaps the most well balanced group are the pescatarians. Their healthy diets include:

• Vegetables;

• Fish;

• Dairy and

• Eggs.

A strict vegetarian diet may be deficient in iron, go to: Vegetarians and nutrition

Use Good Sense, Find Your Balance

It is more difficult for vegans and fruitarians (who eat only raw and dried fruits, nuts, honey, olive oil, and sometimes grains and legumes), to have healthy diets and to consume enough calories for energy and to achieve nutritional balance without supplements. Go to: Vitamins and Minerals Large amounts of nut butters, dried fruits, and breads can help maintain weight. A calcium balance can be maintained by eating adequate amounts of foods like soy, soy milk, small fish with bones, dark greens like broccoli and chard, legumes. Nutritionists recommend iron and B12 supplements as well.

Children’s Nutritional Needs as Vegetarians

It is extremely important that strict vegetarians plan well ahead for pregnancy and nursing by modifying their diets and taking a high quality supplement.

Parents, or parents to be, should consult with a nutritionist for advice about their child’s nutrition. While a balanced ovolactovegetarian or pescatarian diet can easily meet the demands of infancy, as well as childhood and adolescent nutrition, strict vegetarian diets are not recommended for babies and young children. Restricted vegan diets can hamper growth and development, and create a situation where undernourished children risk lifelong ill-health from diseases like rickets, iron-deficiency anemia, and other disorders. As a parent, it is our obligation and responsibility to know what is best for healthy diets for our children. Their lives and futures are in our hands.

Vegan parents should plan meals with the advice of a dietitian or nutritionist who has a special understanding of the child’s needs. A pediatrician should also monitor the child’s growth.

For more information on healthy diets, vitamins, natural remedies, nutrition and health, feel free to browse through our site.

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