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The term “vegetarianism” may be understood differently among different people. However, the vegetarian diet generally does not include the consumption of meat. There exist various types of vegetarian practices; ranging from the most strict to the less strict one. The most restrict group consists of vegans.
This group consumes only those foods that come from plants and these include the grains, nuts, beans, fruits and vegetables. The other group consists of the lacto-vegetarians and these ones consume dairy products on top of the foods from the plants. The third group consists of “Lacto-ovo-vegetarians” who are similar to the lacto-vegetarians but they also consume the eggs in addition.
The other group is the “pesco-vegetarians who eat similar foods to those eaten by the “lacto-ovo-vegetarians” but on top of these, they also eat fish. The least strict group consists of the “partial-vegetarians” and these consume all kinds of foods apart from the red meat. People decide to become vegetarians for a variety of motives. There are those who want to live longer, to live healthy lives, or play their part in the society of bringing down the level of pollution.
This paper is going to look at the health benefits one can obtain by becoming or being a vegetarian. It is going to be argued that; Being a vegetarian is good for health since it leads to the prevention of obesity and overweight, developing strong bones, prevention of heart disease, having cancer protection, having diabetes prevention and also enables one to have more energy in the body.
The paper is going to be arranged in sub-topics with each of them supporting the argument. The conclusion section is going to give a summary of the main points in the discussion.
Obesity and Overweight
Being a vegetarian enables one to reduce chances of becoming obese and overweight. It is pointed out that “64 percent of adults and 15 percent of children aged 6 to 19 are overweight and are at risk of weight-related ailments including heart disease, stroke and diabetes” (“Why go veg?”, 2012, p.1).
A research that was carried out between the period starting from the year 1986 up to the year 1992 by the director and president of the “Preventive Medicine Research Institute”, Dean Ornish, in California established that the people who were overweight and followed a vegetarian diet and which was low in fat were able to lose, on average, twenty four pounds within the first year and were able to keep off that weight five years thereafter (“Why go veg?”, 2012, p.1).
They were able to lose weight without engaging in counting the carbs or calories and also with no engagement in the measurement of the portions or having a feeling of hunger (“Why go veg?”, 2012).
Becoming a vegetarian enables one to build strong bones. Every time there is no adequate calcium in one’s blood in the body, a person’s body will have to seep the calcium from the bone that is there. Following this, the metabolic consequence will be that one’s skeletons will turn out to be permeable and in the course of time become weak.
A larger number of the practitioners in the healthcare field propose that a person should engage in increasing his or her calcium ingestion through the manner in which nature designed and this is through foods. The foods as well supply nutrients like vitamin D, magnesium and phosphorous among others which are essential to enable the body to carry out absorption as well as utilization of calcium.
It is reported that “people who are mildly lactose-intolerant can often enjoy small amounts of dairy products such as yogurt, cheese and lactose-free milk” (“Why go veg?”, 2010, p.1).However, in case one may avoid the dairy products altogether, they can still obtain healthful calcium dose from the “dry beans, soymilk, and dark green vegetable such as broccoli, kale, collards and turnip greens” (“Why go veg?”, 2012, p.1).
By one becoming a vegetarian, they reduce the risks of getting heart disease. It is pointed out that eating vegetables and fruits on a regular basis brings down the level of the risk of “ischemic heart disease” (Craig, 20034, p.1).
Following a survey that was conducted sometime back which involved surveying forty seven thousand Italian people, it was established that “persons in the highest tertile of vegetable consumption had a 21 and 11 % reduced risk of myocardial infarction and angina, respectively, compared with those in the lowest tertile of vegetable consumption” (Kafatos, A., et al, 1997, p.1882).
Moreover, the findings that were presented following a study that was conducted in Britain indicated that the day to day eating of fresh fruits contributed towards having a twenty-four percent decrease in the mortality that results from heart disease as well as a thirty-two percent decrease in mortality resulting from the “cerebrovascular disease”, in comparison to less regular eating of fruit. It was further established that the day to day raw salad eating contributed to having a reduction of twenty-six percent in deaths resulting form the heart disease (Key, et al, 1996, p.777).
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Another study involved investigating the lifelong vegetarians; it was found out that this group of people had a twenty-four percent “lower incident and lifelong vegans had a 57 percent lower incident of coronary heart disease compared to meat eaters” (Thorogood, et al., 1987, p.352).
There are a number of factors in vegetables and fruits which offer achievable protection against the cardiovascular disease. Among these factors we have “folic acid, dietary fiber, potassium, magnesium, carotenoids, phystosterols, flavonoids, and other polyphenolic antioxidants” (Craig, 20034, p.1).
The vegetarian diets are usually as well somehow lower in cholesterol and in saturated fat. The people who are vegetarians usually do have the levels of blood cholesterol that are lower. The food plants that have much soluble fiber are apples, dry beans, and oats among others are helpful in bringing down the amount of serum cholesterol in the body. Moreover, a large number of flavonoids found in some plant foods have wide-ranging organic properties which bring down the chances of one developing heart disease.
The flavonoids offer the protection to the LDL cholesterol against oxidation. Moreover, it helps in inhibiting blood clots formation, and “have hypolipidemic effects and anti-inflammatory action”(Manach, et al, 520, p.520). Studies conducted in Europe indicated that the people who had the highest flavonoids consumption “had 60 percent less mortality from heart disease and 70 percent lower risk of stroke than the low flavonoids consumers” (Keli, et al, 1996, p.641)
Being a vegetarian enables one to be protected against cancer. A report that was presented by the “World Cancer Research Fund” in the year 1997 presented a recommendation that people should lower the risk of being attacked by the cancer disease by selecting mainly the “plant-based diets” which are rich in various fruits as well as vegetables and also rich in the legumes and “minimally processed starchy staple foods, and to limit the intake of grilled, cured and smoked meats and fish” (Craig, 20034, p.1).
More than two hundred studies that have been conducted have given a revelation that frequently eating fruits as well as vegetables offers remarkable protection against the cancer disease at a large number of sites. Those individuals who eat a lot of fruits as well as vegetables “have about one-half the risk of cancer, especially the epithelial cancers”(Craig, 2003, p.1). It is also pointed out that it was also found out that “the most cancers were 20 – 50 % lower in those with high versus low consumption of whole grains” (Craig, 2003, p.1).
Several plant foods have been found to have the properties that are cancer protective (Craig, 2003). These foods include the umbulliferous herbs and vegetables, the cruciferous vegetables and other vegetables and fruits. Other such foods include the several nuts, beans and several seasoning herbs.
Such foods have the cancer-protective phytochemicals like “carotenoids, flavonoids, isothiocynates, allegic acid, glucaates and phenolic acids among others” (Craig, 2003, p.1). The compounds that are beneficial change the pathways as well as the actions of the hormones which are associated with cancer development, facilitate stimulation of the immune system and they also possess antioxidant activity (Craig, 1999).
Being a vegetarian enables one to have more energy. Having good nutrition facilitates generation of more utilizable energy “to keep pace with the kids, tackle that home improvement project or have better sex” (“Why go veg?”, 2012, p.1).Having a large amount of fat in blood implies arteries will not open in an appropriate way and also that the muscles will not obtain adequate oxygen.
The consequence of this is that one will feel zapped. The balanced vegetarian diets are “free of cholesterol-laden, artery-clogging animal products that physically slows us down and keep us hitting the snooze button morning after morning” (“Why go veg?”, 2012, p.1). Therefore, since the plant foods have large amounts of complex carbohydrates, they help in giving the body much energy.
Vegetarians are at a lower risk of becoming diabetic. It is pointed out that consuming more nuts and whole grains is associated with having “lower rates of diabetes” (Craig, 2003, p.1). In one of the large studies, it was established that consumption of fruits and vegetables was associated with the occurrence of diabetes in an inverse way, especially among women (Ford & Mokdad, 2001, p.34).
Men as well as women who reported of rarely or never consuming green leafy vegetables or fruits had “higher mean HbA1C levels than those who had more frequent consumption” (Sargeant, L.A, et al, 2001, p.344). High levels of vegetable and fruit consumption tends to make a great contribution towards facilitating the prevention of the diabetes disease.
Being a vegetarian is good for health since it leads to the prevention of obesity and overweight, developing strong bones, prevention of heart disease, having cancer protection, having diabetes prevention and also enables one to have more energy in the body.
Considering the case of obesity and overweight, it has been found out that the people with these conditions who become vegetarians are able to lose a substantial amount of weight within the first year and over time, they are able to attain healthy weight. Moreover, vegetarians develop strong bones because of the availability of adequate calcium in their bodies which are obtained from food plants such as dark green vegetables, dry beans, and turnip greens among others.
There can also be prevention of cancer through the vegetarian diet. Several plant foods have been found to have the properties that are cancer protective which include such foods as the umbulliferous herbs and vegetables, the cruciferous vegetables and other vegetables and fruits and other foods include nuts, beans and a variety of seasoning herbs. In addition, heart disease can be prevented by one making a decision to become a vegetarian.
Eating vegetables and fruits on a regular basis brings down the level of the risk of “ischemic heart disease”. Everyday consumption of fresh fruits leads to a decrease in the mortality that result from heart disease and also a reduction in mortality resulting from the “cerebrovascular disease”. Furthermore, diabetes can also be prevented by one becoming a vegetarian.
Eating fruits and vegetables was associated with the occurrence of diabetes in an inverse way, especially among women. High levels of vegetable and fruit consumption tends to make a great contribution towards facilitating the prevention of the diabetes disease. Last but not least, the vegetarian diet enables one to have more energy in the body. The foods coming from plants are rich in complex carbohydrates and they supply much energy in the body.
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