Vegetarianism has gained much popularity in recent times, with many lovers of non-vegetarian food opting for vegetarian food and some even choosing to follow a vegan lifestyle, wherein they stop consuming all kinds of animal products, including milk and honey. The change in many cases, can be closely linked to the desire to have a healthier life and protect animals, whatever the reason, going vegetarian has a very deep impact on one’s health and behavior.
In earlier times the benefits associated with following a vegetarian lifestyle were mostly based on principles and philosophy. However, during the last couple of decades, the health benefits of eating a plant based diet have been clinically established. The important thing to note is that avoiding meat is just a part, to get the true benefits of a vegetarian diet all sorts of plant food should be included in the daily diet. This would also ensure sufficient intake of fiber, minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and other vital phytochemicals.
The advantages of adopting a vegetarian lifestyle:
Keep the weight under control: Many researches have successfully established that the vegetarians tend to have a leaner body frame compared to their meat eating counterparts. People who continue to eat non vegetarian food tend to gain more weight over a period of time. They face much challenge while trying to lose weight and also in maintaining it. Make sure that you have a clear understanding of what your diet should include. Cutting down on meat intake and shifting to an all-time veggie pizza or cheese sandwich diet would bring no benefit. It is absolutely important to eat food that provides fiber and antioxidants. Don’t forget to include a variety of fruits and vegetables.
Manage cholesterol levels and improve heart health: Studies suggest that taking a specific plant based diet has a cholesterol lowering effect which is similar to drug treatment. Animal source foods are the only dietary source of cholesterol and are also rich in saturated fat. A vegetarian diet on the other hand can save one from these dangerous components and help improve the cholesterol profile and heart health.
In a 2013 study conducted in America on 44,000 subjects have reported that vegetarians are 32 percent less likely to develop the ischemic heart disease. Another study indicated that a low fat, high fiber vegetarian diet combined with regular exercises can actually reverse atherosclerosis.
Manage cancer: Vegetarians have a lower risk of developing certain types of cancer as compared to meat eaters. Studies have established that the vegetarians are at a reduced risk of developing cancer of prostate and colon. It was also observed that the vegetarians are at a fifty percent lesser risk of cancer related deaths.
Boost immunity: Plant eaters are less likely to develop the diseases caused or communicated by consuming animal products. The US Food and Drug Administration stated that the protein rich animal foods are repeatedly involved in many food borne illnesses among the population.
Increase life expectancy: Vegetarians have a lower risk of developing health issues related to diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Vegetarian diet also helps in maintaining a healthy body weight. These factors, together with an active routine can help improve life expectancy.
Reduce risk of developing kidney and gall bladder stones: The non-vegetarian diet stimulates the body to excrete more calcium, oxalate and uric acid, the major components of renal stones. Following a vegetarian diet helps reduce the formation of these stones and hence prevent the formation of kidney stones. High cholesterol and fatty meat diets are directly linked to the formation of gallstones, especially in women.
The benefits of following a plant based diet is well-established and many people have actually turned vegetarian to get the maximum benefits of this lifestyle. Still, there are a few who are reluctant to take the turn, mostly because they are concerned about the nutritional composition and nutrient quality of the vegetarian diet. It is important to note here that a well-balanced diet that include a variety of vegetarian foods is sufficient to meet the daily nutritional requirement. It is, however, recommended that the vegans include nutrient fortified foods in their routine to avoid nutrient deficiencies.