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All you need to know before turning vegetarian

SUNDAY MAGAZINE
By Judith Mukiri Mwobobia | May 26th 2019

Health concerns and fears are leading many people into adopting popular vegetarian diets that are not always good for them. Such diets are composed of grains, pulses, legumes, seeds, vegetables, fruits and other plant-based foods, with or without, dairy products and eggs. This diet may change slightly depending on the type of vegetarianism one subscribes to.

Not an obvious weight loss solution

Being vegetarian doesn’t necessarily mean you are eating healthier than omnivores. Over consumption of plant based foods will cause excess weight gain and associated conditions. You also run a higher risk of developing nutrient deficiencies especially if you don’t diversify your diet.

You will need some supplements…

There are several nutrients crucial for health, like Vitamin B12 Vitamin D3, DHA Omega 3 fatty acid, creatine and taurine, only found in animal based foods. If one chooses to completely avoid animal based foods, use of supplements and food fortification is vital.

And watch for your bone health…

A poorly planned vegetarian diet will also provide insufficient minerals especially calcium, iodine and zinc. Diversifying one’s diet and frequent use of fortified foods is important to meet all micro-nutrient requirements.

Know your iron levels…

Vegetarians are more prone to anaemia since it is more challenging to meet iron requirements solely on a plant based diet. Plant-based foods provide non heme iron but lack heme iron which is better absorbed in the body and improves absorption of non heme iron. However, regular consumption of a variety of fortified foods and food diversification will keep anaemia at bay.

Be adventurous

To avoid monotony and frustrations when embarking on vegetarianism, one should learn to prepare a variety of plant based meals that will help cover all their nutritional needs. Cook books and online recipes can be very resourceful.

It is also important to note that not all foods labelled vegetarian are nutritious. They may be highly processed with many additives and preservatives.

Benefits

A vegetarian diet can reduce the risk of many chronic illnesses like diabetes, hypertension and heart diseases. However, you can’t get the health benefits if you replace the meats with highly processed foods and junk.

 

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