Vegetarianism rocks!

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Be a vegetarian, achha hai – and the experts tell you why

All of us know of at least one celebrity who’s a vegetarian, and there’s news every now and then of one who’s turning vegetarian. Today, an increasing number of people are turning towards a vegetarian diet. The reasons vary from religious, environmental, cruelty towards animals, to just the desire for a healthier lifestyle. A predominantly non-vegetarian diet poses many health risks. Here’s why opting for a vegetarian diet achha hai…

Natural detox
Being vegetarian is a natural way to detox the body, because a vegetarian diet is more rich in fibre, vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants, which help to cleanse the body’s system. Meat and fish contain a lot of residue from toxic chemicals. Dr Richa Anand, nutritionist, says that according to a study, it has been observed that the bodies of carnivorous animals contain 10 times more hydrochloric acid than that of herbivorous ones, but the human body should not have the same amount of hydrochloric acid. This establishes the fact that the human body is basically meant for a vegetarian diet. So digestion of vegetarian food is easier for our bodies.

Colourfully appetising
Good food is not restricted to the taste, its visual appeal is equally important. In fact, if the food served to us is a visual treat, we are bound to eat and enjoy it even more. Vegetables come in an array in colours, which makes them more appetising and appealing to our eyes. Meat and fish usually come in boring shades of brown and beige. Therefore, using many coloured food items in your cooking is a great way to eat a variety of natural foods that will boost your health.

Good for digestion
Dr Anand says that the most important difference between a vegetarian and a non-vegetarian diet is that the former contains dietary fibres, whereas a non-vegetarian diet is lacking in fibre. This dietary fibres is very useful for the human body because people who have a diet rich in dietary fibre have low incidence of diseases like coronary heart diseases, cancer of intestinal tract, piles, obesity, diabetes, constipation, hiatus hernia, diverticulitis, irritable bowel syndrome, dental caries and gallstones. The food rich in this dietary fibre includes cereals and grains, legumes, fruits with seeds and citrus fruits.

Boosts cardio-vascular health
Yes, it’s true. A vegetarian diet boosts cardio-vascular health. Dr Rahul Gupta, interventional cardiologist, explains, “Consumption of a vegetarian diet consisting of whole grains, legumes, vegetables, nuts, and fruits, and abstaining from meat and high-fat animal products, along with a regular exercise program, is consistently associated with lower blood cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, less obesity, lower incidence of diabetes and consequently less heart disease.”

He says that fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens and some legumes, are abundant in folic acid, which has been shown to help lower homocysteine levels (associated with heart disease). Many whole and unrefined plant foods are also important sources of minerals such as copper and magnesium, both of which can protect against cardiovascular disease. The many phytochemicals/flavonoids in fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains have properties that reduce the risk of heart disease. Various nuts are the source of heart healthy fatty acids (omega3, MUFA, PUFA). On the other hand, a non-vegetarian diet (mainly red meat) is associated with an adverse impact on cholesterol levels, and increases the incidence of heart disease.

Reduces risk of cancer
Dr Ian D’souza, neurologist and oncologist, says “A diet with adequate portions of green leafy vegetables and fruits ensures an intake of roughage or fibre. This has been shown to have beneficial effects on a number of cancers, notably cancers of the colon and rectum. A non vegetarian diet, especially one rich in red meats and animal fats, has been shown to have a carcinogenic effect. Carcinogens are substances or agents that are directly involved in causing cancer.”

Eases menopause
Menopause is different for every woman and no diet plan will balance the entire effects of menopause. Dr Anand says, however, that being healthy and feeling good about oneself is certainly going to benefit a woman during menopause. Diet and mood swings have a direct connection. So while certain foods like melons and peaches can take the edge off hot flashes, chicken cooked with a lot of masalas adds to the irritation. However, as long as the lady desires to consume non-vegetarian food, it is okay to do so provided it is prepared in a healthy way.

Longevity
Dr Gupta says, “A vegetarian diet is associated with lower blood cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, less obesity, less heart disease, less stroke, less diabetes, less cancer, and hence vegetarians have a chance of living a longer life.” Dr D’souza says, “Whether vegetarians live longer or not, I cannot say, and I do not have the relevant figures. But based on statistics, it certainly appears that a vegetarian diet is far healthier than a non-vegetarian one.”
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This post was submitted by Remya.

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