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 Home > City Resources > Food & Dining > The secret of healthy life

 Vegetarianism - The secret of healthy life  

A vegetarian dietA 'vegetarian diet' which is somewhat of a novelty, in western countries, has been practiced for centuries in Asia. In this continent, one could find the maximum number of people practising vegetarianism. As time passed and India progressed, Indians started to explore the outer world in search of work and at the same time spread their food habits. In the United Kingdom, the Gujarati population are primarily Hindu and are lifelong vegetarians. Gujratis, belong to the north of India, specially Gujarat and Maharashtra, who have migrated to different countries all over the world.

Till date, the largest concentration of vegetarians in the world is in India, the homeland of Buddhism and Hinduism. As most of the religion originated in India, which preaches non-violence, was against animal slaughter, has always advocated a vegetarian diet. Vegetarian diets are connected with other Eastern religions also, such as Jainism and Zoroastrianism. Some Egyptian priests were vegetarians, avoiding Greens and beansmeat in order for them to maintain vows of celibacy.

It has been found that vegetarians across the world enjoys the lowest recorded rates of chronic diseases and the highest life expectancy. Moderate regular intake of alcoholic beverages such as wine, beer or spirits and regular physical activity at a level, promotes healthy weight, fitness and well-being. Healthful diets also provide the right balance of carbohydrate, fat and protein inturn reducing risks for chronic diseases and they are obtained from a variety of foods that are available, affordable and enjoyable. Despite the endorsement of vegetarian diets by the new US Dietary Guidelines, many myths concerning various aspects of vegetarian diets still exist.

The term vegetarian can be one of ambiguity and confusion, where the definition has been used to fit a variety of lifestyles. The following are definitions of diets that can and often do fall within this category, from the most stringent to the most lenient of practices.

A diet where one consumes only plant-based foods. A vegan diet excludes all animal products including honey and it may even exclude yeast in some extreme cases. Vegetarian foods

A diet probably the closest to the true sense of the term vegetarian diet. It consists of only raw fruits, nuts and berries. A fruitarian diet does not contain all the nutrients necessary for long-term sustenance, and is therefore only followed on a short-term basis.

A diet based closely on East Asian principles. Macrobiotic diets consist of relatively high amounts of brown rice, accompanied by smaller amounts of fruits, vegetables and pulses. Raw foods are felt to be difficult to digest and too cooling for the system, thus a macrobiotic diet consists almost exclusively of cooked foods.

Vegetarian diets can be very healthy and safe provided that foods are balanced, portions are adjusted for activity, sex and age and in some cases, such as with a vegan diet, if dietary supplements are taken. When these precautions are ignored, the diet is left unbalanced and hence, unhealthy. When foods are balanced and nutrients are combined from a variety of foods, the result is a very healthy vegetarian diet. In many cases, vegetarians benefit from the following favourable aspects of a vegetarian diet: A lower intake of saturated fatty acids. In many cases, A higher intake of dietary fiber. Vegetarians usually eat a greater number of high fiber foods, especially legumes, A diet which is high in dietary fiber has been determined to be beneficial for lowering the probability of developing certain cancers, in particular colon cancer.

FruitsA bulky diet is one which is high in dietary fiber. In some circumstances, this can restrict energy intake in the first few years of life. This is also true for adults who consume large amounts of fiber to the extent that many other nutrients are not able to be absorbed in the small intestine. The above-mentioned potential complications of a vegetarian diet are applicable to all persons of all races and genders. When other factors are taken into consideration, additional measures must be taken to ensure adequate nutrition. For example, pregnant or lactating women need more nutrients such as calcium, iron and folate. Iron deficient anaemia is also prevalent among African Americans, who must pay extra attention to ensure they are eating a variety of iron-rich foods.

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