One of the oldest types of non-traditional food options – vegetarianism – is followed today by more than a billion people. Disputes about its shortcomings and advantages will probably never subside. Some consider vegetarianism a panacea for all diseases, others – a mental illness.
Bologny turned to nutritionists and doctors to analyze the pros and cons of vegetarianism.
The content of the article:
Who are vegetarians
Traditionally, vegetarians are people who do not eat meat and fish for certain reasons.
Contrary to the opinions of vehement opponents of vegetarianism, it is not a fashionable diet or a mental disorder – the roots of vegetarianism stretch back to the distant past, and the general meaning lies in a certain philosophy and lifestyle. Vegetarianism is closely related to the concept of yoga, often these philosophies merge into one lifestyle.
The essence of this food system is the use of vegetable or vegetable-dairy foods for therapeutic and prophylactic purposes.
Why do people become vegetarians?
- Deep religious and philosophical meaning.
- Desire to get rid of certain diseases.
- Desire to lose weight.
- The categorical refusal is “our lesser brothers”.
The majority of fans of this nutritional system note such results as weight loss and frequency of nervous conditions, increased mood, disappearance of abdominal pain and normalization of the gastrointestinal tract, etc.
The main types of vegetarianism
- The strictest form is veganism. The bottom line is the rejection of any food of animal origin. The vegan menu includes vegetables, cereals with nuts, fruits and their processed products. From drinks – water, herbal teas and infusions, juices from fruits / vegetables, rarely – tea / coffee. Salt intake is limited. Alcohol and other store drinks are not consumed. Sugar is replaced by jam and honey.
- Flexitarianism – a sparing option. A nutritional system that is approved by almost all nutritionists. You can eat everything a little, with an emphasis on fruits / vegetables. The basis of the diet is plant foods. Once a week or two, meat and seafood are allowed, once a day – dairy products. With sweets – like with meat.
- Pescetarianism – the diet is similar to the previous one, but fish is also present in the diet.
- Lacto-Vegetarianism. The food system according to the scheme is eggs, dairy and vegetable products.
- Fruitarianism. The bottom line is eating berries, seeds, grains, nuts, vegetables / fruits – that is, foods that do not require destruction.
- Raw food diet. The diet contains only plant foods, without any processing.
All other options, including all those that have appeared recently, are a combination of the above.
Pros and Cons of Vegetarianism – Commentary by Certified Nutritionist Irina Kozlachkova
Today, vegetarianism is no longer surprising. This is a nutritional system based on restricting consumption or completely avoiding animal products. As a result, the body does not receive essential amino acids and some vitamins that are not so easy to replenish, especially with more stringent varieties of this food system:
- – lacto – vegetarianism (the use of dairy products is allowed);
- – ovo – vegetarianism (eggs are used, but dairy products are excluded);
- – veganism (complete rejection of animal products).
The reasons for a person’s coming to vegetarianism can be different, but one thing remains important – to make up for all the deficiencies associated with this type of diet. It is best if the diet is selected by a professional, taking into account the physiological needs of a person, his health characteristics, lifestyle, physical activity.
Only this approach will bring health to the adherent of vegetarianism. ⠀ An ill-considered approach to this type of nutrition, in addition to various deficiencies, can lead to problems with the gastrointestinal tract, a decrease in immunity, and a decrease in muscle mass. ⠀
In addition to a deficiency of protein and vitamins, vegetarians have a deficiency of Omega-3 essential fatty acids (necessary for us for immunity, brain, heart function) and micronutrients such as calcium, zinc, iron, but Omega-6 is usually more than normal.
The absorption of vitamin B12, which is found in animal products, is impaired. Alternatively, you can eat fortified foods or take tablet forms of this vitamin. ⠀
Vegetarians often have an excess of fiber in the intestines, which also causes poor absorption of vitamins. Fiber is not specifically recommended as the diet is high in vegetables, plus bread, nuts, whole grains, and pasta. With excessive use of these foods, macro and micronutrients are poorly absorbed.
But without a doubt, there are undeniable advantages of vegetarianism – weight reduction, lowering blood cholesterol levels, increasing the consumption of vegetables and fruits in the diet. ⠀
It is important not to begin to compensate for the lack of meat or other animal products with an abundance of flour, sweets, vegetable oils, nuts, because a vegetarian can also go over calories and, as a result, be overweight.
Health Benefits of Vegetarianism – Who Benefits from Vegetarianism?
The opinions of experts on this issue are not particularly different. If vegetarianism includes fish, milk and eggs, then it may well be used, but in the second half of life (from 30-40 years).
For what diseases and who will benefit from vegetarianism (as part of treatment, for a short time):
- With atherosclerosis.
- With hypertension, coronary heart disease.
- With type 2 diabetes.
- With arthritis, arthrosis and osteoporosis.
- In the presence of stones in the gallbladder.
- With obesity and poor circulation.
- With cirrhosis of the liver and gout.
- With pyelonephritis.
Pros of vegetarianism
- Minimum calories. That is, vegetarianism combined with fitness is the easiest way to maintain an optimal weight.
- Cleansing from toxins.
- Easy assimilation / digestion of food.
- Normalizing cholesterol levels and strengthening the immune system.
- Strengthening blood vessels.
- An abundance of essential vitamins and phytoncides.
The harm of vegetarianism
The main thing to remember is that strict vegetarianism is only allowed for completely healthy people. Gentle vegetarianism will only benefit from a balanced menu.
Read: Healthiest Products for Women’s Health.
Cons and consequences of vegetarianism
- The risk of developing iron deficiency anemia… Reason: The iron in plant foods is poorly absorbed.
- Lack of vitamin B12 in plant foods (it is only found in animal products) can lead to serious disorders of the nervous system.
- Proteins are the main building material for body tissues and cells. It is with their help that enzymes and hormones are produced. AND vegetable proteins (in particular, soy), of course, are inferior to animals…
- Deficiency of vitamin D, calcium and iodine with zinc – the main problem of vegans.
- Complete rejection of fish leads to omega-3 deficiency and so on. That, in turn, threatens the development of cataracts and cardiovascular diseases.
- Excess fiber interferes with protein absorption.
- Pancreas gets hit…
- A raw food diet forces the body to function in extreme conditions…
- The risk of developing hypovitaminosis, protein deficiency and dysbiosis.
For whom is vegetarianism contraindicated?
- First of all, for children. Both meat and fish are indispensable components of the children’s diet. Full physical development and growth is impossible without them.
- For expectant and lactating mothers. The loss of nutrients during pregnancy must be compensated for, and the crumbs may be allergic to certain foods from the list of plant foods.
- Athletes. Their diet should be strictly balanced, and proteins of animal origin are more valuable for the diet than plant proteins.
- To old people (due to the high risk of developing osteoporosis).
- Postmenopausal women. In this case, a vegetarian diet does not satisfy the body’s high need for calcium, which is very necessary for this period.
- People in the postoperative period…
Also, vegetarianism is contraindicated in:
- Asthenic syndrome.
- Rheumatoid arthritis.
- Type 1 diabetes mellitus.
- Systemic diseases.
- Chronic and acute pancreatitis.
- Gastritis, peptic ulcer and other gastrointestinal diseases.
All people are different. For some, vegetarianism will be beneficial, for others it may turn out to be not the most pleasant consequences. Therefore, the choice in this matter is an individual matter, requiring a clear balance, and in some cases – and doctor control…
Bologny warns: all information provided is for guidance only and is not a medical recommendation. Before making vegetarianism your food system, be sure to consult your doctor!
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