Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis

You know that eating a vegetarian diet can decrease the incidence of heart disease and certain types of cancers. You also know that it can make you leaner and healthier. But so many of the health studies are done on men? What about women and the impact of a vegetarian diet on their health as they age?

Diets that are high in protein, especially animal protein, tend to cause the body to excrete more calcium, oxalate, and uric acid. These three substances are the main components of urinary tract stones. British researchers have advised that persons with a tendency to form kidney stones should follow a vegetarian diet. The American Academy of Family Physicians notes that high animal protein intake is largely responsible for the high prevalence of kidney stones in the United States and other developed countries and recommends protein restriction for the prevention of recurrent kidney stones.

For many of the same reasons, vegetarians are at a lower risk for osteoporosis. Since animal products force calcium out of the body, eating meat can promote bone loss. In nations with mainly vegetable diets (and without dairy product consumption), osteoporosis is less common than in the U. S., even when calcium intake is also less than in the U. S. Calcium is important, but there is no need to get calcium from dairy products.

We continue to consume meat, while at the same time downing calcium supplements and prescription drugs to prevent osteoporosis, that often have drastic side effects. And most experts agree that calcium supplements are inferior to calcium derived from natural food sources. Doesn’t it make more sense (and cents) to get your calcium from eating a healthier diet?

What are some good vegetarian sources of calcium? Orange juice, for one. Dry beans, such as black-eyed peas, kidney beans and black beans are another good source, as are dark leafy vegetables such as broccoli and kale. Tofu is also a good source of calcium.

You are what you eat

You are what you eat

You’ve certainly heard the expression many times, “You are what you eat.” Have you ever really thought about what it means? And do you think about it when you’re making food choices?

In some ways, we do become what we eat, literally. Have you ever seen an example of your blood plasma after eating a fast food hamburger? What was previously a clear liquid becomes cloudy with the fat and cholesterol that’s absorbed from eating a high-fat hamburger.

And when you think about it, we also become what we don’t eat. When we switch from eating meat to a vegetarian-based diet, we become less fat, less prone to many types of cancers. Our cholesterol can improve. When we’re leaner and eating fewer animal products, then many other health and fitness issues are reduced. The incidence of Type II diabetes is reduced. Blood pressure falls into normal ranges. When you’re healthier, you’re taking fewer medications. Even if you have a prescription drug benefit in your health plan, you’re still saving money with fewer co-payments on medications.

If you have a family history of high cholesterol or high blood pressure, then it’s particularly incumbent on you to revise your eating habits. Moving towards a more vegetarian diet has been shown statistically to reduce the incidence of so many of the diseases of industrialized countries. Vegetarians are statistically healthier than omnivorous persons; they’re leaner and live longer.

Isn’t it time to think about what you want to be and to eat accordingly? Do you want to be sluggish and fat? Do you want the risk that goes with eating animal products, with their high fat content? Or do you want to look like and be what vegetarians are? Leaner and fitter with a longer anticipated lifespan. It’s never too late to change what you’re doing and increase your chances for a longer, fitter life.

Why switch

5 Why switch to vegetarianism

If you’ve eaten meat and animal products your whole life, you might think, why switch to a vegetarian diet? You’ve lived your whole life eating eggs, hamburgers, hot dogs, poultry, so why switch now?

There could be many reasons to switch. Start by looking in the mirror. Are you at a healthy weight? Do you look and feel good most of the time? Do you wake up energized? Or do you wake up tired and sluggish?

How is your general health? Is your blood pressure within a healthy range? Are your cholesterol and blood sugar ranges normal? If they’re not, consider what you’re eating on a daily basis.

How do you feel after eating? Do you feel energized, as if you’ve fed your body what it needs? Or are you tired and dragged out? Do you often need a nap after eating? Is that what food is supposed to do for us, make us tired and sleepy?

Not really. Food should nourish and feed the body and leave us energized and refreshed. The human body is a machine and needs fuel that keeps it running in peak condition. When we’re fat, with high blood pressure, Type II diabetes, high cholesterol and other unhealthy conditions, it’s like a car engine that hasn’t been tuned or isn’t running on the optimal type of gasoline it needs to run efficiently.

Your body is the same way. It needs the right kind of fuel to run at peak efficiency, and when you’re eating high-fat meat, or meat that’s been fed antibiotics throughout its life, that’s simply not the kind of fuel the human body evolved to run on.

Try eating vegetarian for a week or a month. See if you don’t feel different, more mentally acute and more physically fit and energized. At least reverse the portion sizes you’ve been eating, and make meat more of a side dish, if you can’t stop eating meat altogether. Even that change can make a big difference in your overall health and well-being.

Transition family

Transition family

If you’re considering moving to a vegetarian diet as an adult, you probably want to pass on this good nutrition and improved way of eating to your family as well. In fact, it’s your responsibility as a parent to nurture your children and help them develop physically, mentally and spiritually.

But that can be hard to do, especially in a culture where our children are bombarded with messages from fast food restaurants in the media. How do you teach kids to resist the siren song of Ronald McDonald? There isn’t a plate of vegetables on the planet that’s going to look as good to them as a Happy Meal!

You have to start slowly to change not only your own eating patterns, but your family’s as well. Like any other dietary endeavor, it starts at the grocery store. Begin stocking the refrigerator with healthy snacks like apples and carrots. Exchange good, chewy brown rice for white rice and processed side dishes, which are so high in fat and sodium. Make meat portions smaller and smaller and start incorporating more vegetables and grains in your family dinners.

Don’t make changes all at once. If you do give in and stop at a fast food restaurant, get fruit or yogurt in addition to or part of that meal. Make the changes so gradual that they’ll never notice their diets are changing. Kids are usually very sympathetic about animals, and it’s not too early to talk to them about eating in a way that isn’t cruel to animals.

You’ll be doing them a favor that will last them a lifetime. With childhood obesity at epidemic levels in the U. S., you will be setting up your children for lifelong eating habits that will help ensure a long and healthy life.

Cancer

Vegetarians and cancer

You might have a general idea that eating a vegetarian diet is more healthy for you. But do you really know how much less the incidence is of certain types of cancers among vegetarians?

Vegetarian diets—naturally low in saturated fat, high in fiber, and replete with cancer-protective phytochemicals—help to prevent cancer. Large studies in England and Germany have shown that vegetarians are about 40 percent less likely to develop cancer compared to meat-eaters.

In the U. S., studies of Seventh-Day Adventists, who are largely lacto-ovo vegetarians, have shown significant reductions in cancer risk among those who avoided meat. Similarly, breast cancer rates are dramatically lower in nations, such as China, that follow plant-based diets.

Interestingly, Japanese women who follow Western-style, meat-based diets are eight times more likely to develop breast cancer than women who follow a more traditional plant-based diet. Meat and dairy products contribute to many forms of cancer, including cancer of the colon, breast, ovaries, and prostate.

Harvard studies that included tens of thousands of women and men have shown that regular meat consumption increases colon cancer risk by roughly 300 percent. High-fat diets also encourage the body’s production of estrogens. Increased levels of this sex hormone have been linked to breast cancer. A recent report noted that the rate of breast cancer among premenopausal women who ate the most animal (but not vegetable) fat was one-third higher than that of women who ate the least animal fat.

A separate study from Cambridge University also linked diets high in saturated fat to breast cancer. One study linked dairy products to an increased risk of ovarian cancer. The process of breaking down the lactose (milk sugar) evidently damages the ovaries. Daily meat consumption triples the risk of prostate enlargement. Regular milk consumption doubles the risk and failure to consume vegetables regularly nearly quadruples the risk.

Vegetarians avoid the animal fat linked to cancer and get abundant fiber, vitamins, and phytochemicals that help to prevent cancer. In addition, blood analysis of vegetarians reveals a higher level of “natural killer cells,” specialized white blood cells that attack cancer cells.

Got milk, hope not

Got milk? Reasons Not to Grab for the Glass

Many Americans, including some vegetarians, still consume large amounts of dairy products, but here are several strong reasons to eliminate dairy products from your diet.

Milk has long been praised as a ‘weapon’ in the war against osteoporosis, but recent clinical research shows that it actually is associated with a higher fracture risk, and there’s been no protective effect of dairy calcium on bone. Increasing your intake of green leafy vegetables and beans, along with exercising have been shown to help strengthen bones and increase their density.

Dairy products are also a significant source of fat and cholesterol in the diet, which can increase your risk for cardiovascular disease. A low-fat vegetarian diet that eliminates dairy products, as well as adequate amounts of exercise, proper stress management and quitting smoking not only will help prevent heart disease, but could also reverse it.

Ovarian, breast, and prostate cancers have been linked to dairy product consumption. According to a recent study by Daniel Cramer, a Harvard doctor, when excessive amounts of dairy products are consumed and the body’s enzymes are unable to keep pace with breaking down the lactose; it can build up in the blood and affect a woman’s ovaries.

Another recent study showed that men who had the highest levels of IGF-I, (insulin-like growth factor) which is found in cow’s milk, they were at four times the risk of prostate cancer compared to those men who had the lowest levels of IGF-I.

In addition, milk may not provide a consistent and reliable source of Vitamin D in the diet. Milk samplings have been found to have inconsistent levels of Vitamin D, and some have been found to have as much as 500 times the indicated safe level. Excess Vitamin d in the blood can be toxic and can result in calcium deposits in the body’s soft tissues.

Milk proteins, milk sugar, fat, and saturated fat in dairy products may pose health risks for children and lead to the development of chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and formation of plaques in the circulatory system that can lead to heart disease.

By choosing to consume a nutrient-dense, healthful diet of grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and fortified foods including cereals and juices, you can help meet your body’s calcium, potassium, riboflavin, and vitamin D requirements easily and simply, without the added health risks from dairy product consumption.

Weight

Weight Loss and Vegetarianism

Think about it, have you ever seen a fat vegetarian? Probably not. In fact, for most of us, vegetarian is almost synonymous with lean and healthy, isn’t it? And when you start any diet, what’s the first thing the experts tell you? Generally it’s to increase the amounts of vegetables you’re eating and to eat limited amounts of meat, especially high-fat red meat and pork.

And what happens when you resume your old eating habits? Generally the weight will come right back on. Even the greatest will-power can’t overcome the unhealthy effects of eating high-fat meat.

When you eat a diet that’s higher in dietary fiber, that’s primarily if not totally vegetarian, you’re naturally healthier. You’re feeding your body and getting it the nutrition it needs to run efficiently. You have more energy and stamina; you wake up more easily and more refreshed. It’s easier to exercise, because you’re not so weighed down by digesting the high fat and excessive protein that comes from eating a carnivorous diet.

Many diets fail because we think of them as depriving ourselves of food we love. The trick is to change that thinking. There are so many compelling reasons to eliminate meat from our diet, so why not forget about losing weight? Focus instead on eating healthier, or eating in a way that’s in balance with the earth, and that doesn’t need to subsist on the suffering of animals. You’ll probably find you’ll start to lose weight without even thinking about it!

And when you do lose weight, so many other health risks can fall by the wayside as well. You’ll find your blood pressure falls into a healthier range and your risk for Type II diabetes can decrease. You’ll look better and feel better and probably never go back to your old ways of eating!

Heart disease

Vegetarians and heart disease

No matter what your reasons for eating a more vegetarian diet, there’s no denying the obvious health benefits that are derived from the elimination of red meat from your diet. On average, vegetarians have lower levels of the blood fats, cholesterol and triglycerides than meat eaters of similar age and social status have.

High levels of blood fats are associated with an increased risk of heart disease. Lacto-ovo vegetarians, those who eat eggs and dairy products, which contain cholesterol-raising saturated fats and cholesterol, have higher cholesterol levels than do vegans, as those who abstain from all animal foods are called. But even among lacto-ovo vegetarians, cholesterol levels are generally lower than they are among meat eaters.

Researchers have found that older men who eat meat six or more times a week are twice as likely to die of heart disease as those who abstain from meat. Among middle-aged men, meat eaters were four times more likely to suffer a fatal heart attack, according to the study.

As for women, who are partly protected by their hormones and generally develop heart disease later in life than men do, the risk of fatal heart disease has been found to be lower only among the older vegetarians. In a 1982 study of more than 10,000 vegetarians and meat eaters, British researchers found that the more meat consumed, the greater the risk of suffering a heart attack.

Though eliminating meat from the diet is likely to reduce your consumption of heart-damaging fats and cholesterol, substituting large amounts of high-fat dairy products and cholesterol-rich eggs can negate the benefit. To glean the heart-saving benefits of vegetarianism, consumption of such foods as hard cheese, cream cheese, ice cream and eggs should be moderate. And the introduction of more vegetables, fruits and raw foods will definitely enhance the benefits of abstaining from eating meat.

Going vegetarian-pregnancy

Going Vegetarian during your Pregnancy

Now that you’re pregnant, you’re wondering if your decision to become vegetarian can still be carried out successfully during your pregnancy. And while it is possible for you to obtain all the nutrients your body will need during pregnancy through a well-planned, nutrient-dense vegetarian diet, careful planning and observation will be crucial to your overall success transitioning to vegetarianism during your pregnancy.

In other words: take it slow and be smart!

A good vegetarian diet has a wide variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, lentils, and nuts and some eggs and dairy or their equivalent if you so choose. Fast food, highly processed junk foods, and canned fruits and vegetables are eaten rarely if at all. It’s imperative that you make wise food choices at this crucial time, since a pregnant woman only needs approximately 300 more calories per day and about 10-16 extra grams of protein; however, the body's need for certain nutrients increases significantly. Every bite you take is important when you're pregnant.

While the RDAs (recommended daily allowances) for almost all nutrients increase, especially important are folic acid, iron, zinc, and vitamin B-12. Attention to adequate amounts of vitamin B-12 is crucial for vegetarians who choose not to eat eggs and dairy.

Work closely with your healthcare professional during this transition. The changeover from a meat-eating to a vegetarian diet can be rough on your body as it actually goes through a detoxification process during the transition. So, you want to ensure your baby is getting all the nutrients it needs at this time, and is growing and developing at a healthy rate. Start very slowly; perhaps only one or two days per week eating a vegetarian diet.

Gradually work soy and other plant-based proteins into your diet, and little by little use them to replace proteins obtained from eating meat products. Be sure to adequately supplement your diet with a quality prenatal supplement, and get adequate amounts of exercise and exposure to sunlight to promote your body to naturally produce vitamin D.

With careful planning, observation, and your healthcare professional’s guidance, the transition to vegetarianism during your pregnancy can be a cleansing and healthy start for both you and your baby to a lifetime of optimal health.

Fish, mercury

Fish, mercury

Many people think if they just eliminate red meat and poultry from their diets, their eating healthier. This is partly true, but there are hazards to eating fish and seafood as well. The harm that humans have done to the environment has had a direct effect on the fish and seafood we eat.

There are elements of fish and shellfish are an important part of a healthy diet. Fish and shellfish contain high-quality protein and other essential nutrients, are low in saturated fat, and contain omega-3 fatty acids.

A well-balanced diet that includes a variety of fish and shellfish can contribute to heart health and children's proper growth and development. So, women and young children in particular should include fish or shellfish in their diets due to the many nutritional benefits.

However, nearly all fish and shellfish contain traces of mercury. For most people, the risk from mercury by eating fish and shellfish is not a health concern. Yet, some fish and shellfish contain higher levels of mercury that may harm an unborn baby or young child's developing nervous system. The risks from mercury in fish and shellfish depend on the amount of fish and shellfish eaten and the levels of mercury in the fish and shellfish.

Therefore, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are advising women who may become pregnant, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and young children to avoid some types of fish and eat fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury.

Is this anyway to eat - in fear of unhealthy elements that are lurking in our food?

Eliminating red meat and eating a more vegetarian diet is an excellent start on the road to more healthy eating. Eliminating fish and seafood is one of the final steps towards eating a complete vegetarian diet and the health benefits that are your reward for making that change.

Variety to your vegetarian lifestyle

Ideas for Adding some Variety to your Vegetarian Lifestyle

When you’re planning a healthy vegetarian diet, you’re only limited by your imagination. It’s important to incorporate a wide variety of whole grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits in different meals, including seeds and nuts. Variety is the spice of life, and it will help ensure your vegetarian diet is nutrient-dense, interesting, and fun! Aim for variety, even when you serve favorite entrees over and over again, by serving different side dishes, snacks and desserts.

Be creative in planning meals. Boost your consumption of beans and vegetables by eating these foods at lunch time rather than just for dinner. Make it a goal to serve a vegetable every day for lunch and two for dinner. Plan a meal around a vegetable. A baked potato can be a hearty entree; serve it with baked beans, a sauce of stewed tomatoes or a few tablespoons of salsa. Or make a simple meal of sautйed vegetables and pasta.

Try new foods often. Experiment with a variety of grains such as quinoa, couscous, bulgur, barley, and wheat berries. Try fruits and vegetables that are popular in different international cuisines, such as bok choy. Accentuate the positive. Focus more on healthy foods that fit into a vegetarian plan instead of foods to avoid.

If you’re unsure how to include a new food into your vegetarian diet, ask the produce manager at your local grocer or health food store for ideas on how to prepare it. The internet can be a great resource for new recipe and preparation ideas. But be sure that you’re building your menu on a strong plant food base. Make them the core of your diet.

Don’t stress about getting enough protein. As long as calories are sufficient and the diet is varied, vegetarians easily meet protein needs. Grains, beans, vegetables, and nuts all provide protein. Vegetarians do not need to eat special combinations of foods to meet protein needs. However, it is important to be aware of fat. Even vegetarians can get too much fat if the diet contains large amounts of nuts, oils, processed foods, or sweets.

Lazy vegetarians

Lazy Vegetarians Who Choose the Wrong Carbs Risk Health

We’ve all been there. We’ve just come in from a long day at work and the last thing on our minds taking the time to prepare a healthy, nutritionally sound vegetarian meal. But choosing a refined or enriched carbohydrate over the beneficial carbohydrates that a solid, well-balanced vegetarian diet offers defeats the purpose of your decision to live a vegetarian lifestyle, and that’s for optimal health. Consuming refined carbohydrates presents different hazards to your health.

The over-consumption of refined carbohydrates and sugars can result in excess insulin in the bloodstream. In the presence of excess insulin, glucose, the blood sugar, is converted to triglycerides and stored in the fat cells of the body.

According to one study, consuming refined grains may also increase your risk of getting stomach cancer. The research found that a high intake of refined grains could increase a patient's risk of stomach cancer.

In addition, refined sugars and carbohydrates have been implicated as a contributing factor in increased gallbladder disease, according to a recent study. It showed a direct link between the amount of sugars eaten and the incidence of gallbladder disease. Another study looked at the role carbohydrates play in the incidence of heart disease. The researchers noted that as carbohydrate consumption increased, so did the level of triglycerides in the blood of the participants. Diets low in fat and high in carbohydrates not only dramatically raised triglyceride levels but significantly reduced levels of HDL, the “good” cholesterol.

And lastly, refined white sugars increase the rate at which your body excretes calcium, which is directly connected to your skeletal health. Simply put, as your sugary and refined carbohydrate intake increases, your bone density decreases.

So don’t be lazy! Do your body right and take the time to prepare a nutrient-dense and delicious vegetarian meal. Your body, and your conscience, will thank you for it in the long run.

Vegetarian types

Different types of vegetarians

Many people think of vegetarians as one homogeneous group that just doesn’t eat meat. But nothing could be further from the truth. There are different categories of vegetarians as diverse as the reasons for going vegetarian in the first place.

A vegetarian is generally defined as someone who doesn’t eat meat. But someone who is vegetarian could conceivably eat dairy products such as milk, eggs and cheese. A lacto ovo vegetarian doesn’t eat meat, fish or poultry, but does consume eggs, milk or cheese. A lacto vegetarian consumes milk and cheese products, but doesn’t consume eggs.

A vegan is someone who doesn’t consume any animal product or by-product, including dairy food. They eat only vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains and legumes. They also don’t use animal products, such as leather. Vegans also don’t use white sugar because it’s often processed with a substance derived from animal bones that whitens the sugar.

There are other categories within the vegetarian community. Fruitarians, for example, eat only fruit. Their rationale is that fruits, including fruits such as tomatoes, are self-perpetuating and don’t need to be planted to create the food source. They consider it a way of eating that’s most in balance and harmony with the earth, the most natural.

All of the above will eat cooked vegetables, fruits and legumes. There is also a growing movement towards eating only raw or living foods. This based on the assumption that cooking food processes most of the nutrients out of it, and to get all the nutritional value, vitamins and amino acids from food, it’s best consumed raw, or juiced. If cooked at all, it should only be cooked to slightly over 100 degrees, so the nutrients are still retained.

The more restrictive you become with your diet, however, the more educated you need to become to be sure you’re getting all the necessary proteins and vitamins that you need to maintain good health, especially muscle and heart health.

Bowels stomach

Bowels and stomach digestion

Many of the health benefits derived from a vegetarian diet have to do with creating a healthy environment in the bowels and stomach. Our digestive systems, from prehistory on, were designed to metabolize vegetable matter, more than animal products. Fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts provide the kind of dietary fiber our digestive systems need to function properly. The Western diet that’s high in processed and refined flour and sugar, and in animal products that are laden with hormones and antibiotics, are actually anathema to our insides.

When the digestive system doesn’t function and work as it’s intended to, that leads to opportunistic diseases or changes in the DNA of cells in the stomach and colon. And there are more practical considerations as well. When we don’t get enough of the fiber we need, we incur a host of digestion and elimination problems, such as constipation and hemorrhoids that are a result of straining. These diseases and syndromes are much less evident in a vegetarian population than in a meat-eating population.

Other diseases of the bowel that occur less frequently in a vegetarian population include irritable bowel syndrome, and chronic ulcerative colitis, mostly likely due to the increased fiber content in a vegetarian diet. And of course a diet that’s higher in dietary fiber that comes from a vegetarian diet will decrease the likelihood or risk of colon cancer.

When you consider the risks that come with a diet that includes meat and animal products, and the benefits that come from a vegetarian diet, does the prospect of a steak or burger or bacon really sound that good to you? Doesn’t it at least make sense to reverse the portion sizes and proportions of meats to vegetables and side dishes? In other words, if you must continue to eat meat, then make meat your side dish, or just incidental to your meal, such as in a stir fry. Increasing the proportion of fruits and vegetables in your diet can only be good for you.

Detoxification

Detoxification

When people talk about detoxification and cleansing the body of harmful toxins, it’s often seen as a fringe element of vegetarians. People really don’t like to think about harmful toxins building up in their colons or in their arteries, but it’s often a by-product of a carnivorous diet. A diet that’s high in fat and processed foods tends to slow down our digestive systems, and our elimination processes are also interrupted.

This can allow harmful bacteria and toxins to accumulate and can create a general feeling of sluggishness, as well as a host of digestive disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome or colitis. When we begin eating a more healthy vegetarian diet, we start to get more dietary fiber into our systems, and all of a sudden, our digestive systems start to work better,

When you eliminate high-fat meat and processed foods from your diet, then much of your body’s energy is freed from the intense work of digesting these foods. Everything becomes clearer – your blood, your organs, your mind. You start to become more aware of the toxic nature of the food you’d been eating before.

Toxicity is of much greater concern in the twentieth century than ever before. There are many new and stronger chemicals, air and water pollution, radiation and nuclear power. We ingest new chemicals, use more drugs of all kinds, eat more sugar and refined foods, and daily abuse ourselves with various stimulants and sedatives. The incidence of many toxicity diseases has increased as well. Cancer and cardiovascular disease are two of the main ones.

Arthritis, allergies, obesity, and many skin problems are others. In addition, a wide range of symptoms, such as headaches, fatigue, pains, coughs, gastrointestinal problems, and problems from immune weakness, can all be related to toxicity. When you start a vegetarian eating plan, your body eventually cleanses itself of the harmful effects of these toxic foods.