Dr Aidin Rawshani

Vegetarian food: how to eat, benefits, risks, effects


The food you eat is essential for health. For individuals with diabetes, it is important to choose a sustainable and healthy diet. A healthy diet is one of the most important ways to control your diabetes, and in combination with appropriate exercise and medication it usually leads to an effective and rapid decrease in blood sugar levels and keeps blood sugar stable.

The vegetarian diet has gained widespread popularity in recent years. Popularity has grown most strongly in Western countries. Some studies estimate that vegetarians account for about 15% of the world’s population.

In addition to the ethical and environmental benefits of excluding meat from your diet, a well-planned vegetarian diet can also reduce the risk of chronic diseases, facilitate weight loss and improve the quality of your diet.

This article is a complete beginner’s guide on vegetarian diet

The vegetarian diet involves refraining from eating meat, fish and poultry. People often adopt a vegetarian diet for religious or personal reasons, as well as ethical issues, such as animal rights. Others decide to become a vegetarian for environmental reasons, as animal production and slaughterhouse increase greenhouse gas emissions, contribute to climate change and require large amounts of water, energy and natural resources.

There are several forms of vegetarianism, each of which differs in its limitations. A well-balanced vegetarian diet with an emphasis on low-fat, high fiber content and carbohydrates suitable for people with diabetes.

Vegetarian diet usually excludes foods that contain a lot of calories and animal products with saturated fats. A vegetarian diet instead concentrates on foods that provide enough nutrients, minerals and vitamins while helping to give people with diabetes a better chance of controlling blood sugar levels. The vegetarian diet includes whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables.

Vegetarian diets are rich in fiber, which has many advantages. A rich fiber diet usually leads to a previous feeling of satiety, which leads to lower blood sugar.

Increased intake of fibre also plays a protective role in individuals with pre-diabetes (prediabetes) and may lead to lower daily insulin needs among people with type 1 diabetes.

High fiber intake usually improves blood sugar control, lowers cholesterol levels and increases the intake of folate, reducing the risk of complications such as cardiovascular diseases.

The most common variants of vegetarianism

  • Lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet: Eliminates meat, fish and chicken/birds but allows eggs and dairy products.
  • Lacto-vegetarian diet: Eliminates meat, fish, chicken/birds and eggs but allows dairy products.
  • Ovo-vegetarian diet: Eliminates meat, fish, chicken/birds and dairy products but allows dairy products egg.
  • Pescetarian diet: Eliminates meat and chicken/birds but allows fish and sometimes eggs and dairy products.
  • Vegan diet: Eliminates meat, fish, chicken/birds, eggs and dairy products, as well as other animal products, such as honey.
  • Flexitarian diet: A mostly vegetarian diet that contains sometimes meat, fish or chicken/birds.

Health Benefits

Vegetarian diets are associated with a number of health benefits.

Studies show that vegetarians tend to have better dietary quality than meat-eaters and a higher intake of important nutrients such as fiber, vitamin C, vitamin E and magnesium.

Weight loss

Switching to a vegetarian diet can be an effective strategy if you want to lose weight. A meta-analysis of 12 different studies observed that vegetarians lost on average 2 kg over a follow-up period of 18 weeks, compared to non-vegetarians.

Similarly, a six-month study of 74 people with type 2 diabetes showed that vegetarian diets were almost twice as effective in reducing body weight compared to low-calorie diets.

In addition, a study of nearly 61,000 adults showed that vegetarians tend to have a lower body mass index (BMI) than omnivorous. BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight.

May reduce the risk of cancer

Some research suggests that a vegetarian diet can be linked to a lower risk of cancer, such as cancer of the breast, colon (colon), rectum and stomach.

However, current research is limited to observational studies, which can not prove a causal relationship. Therefore, inconsistent results are most likely observed in several of the studies investigating the substance. More research is needed to understand how vegetarianism can affect cancer risk.

Hundreds of studies suggest that eating lots of fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of developing certain cancers, and there is evidence that vegetarians have a lower incidence of cancer than non-vegetarians do. But the differences are not big.

A vegetarian diet may make it easier to obtain the recommended five daily portions of fruit and vegetables, but a purely vegetarian diet is not necessarily better than a plant-based diet that also includes fish or chicken/poultry. For example, in a pooled analysis of data from the Oxford Vegetarian Study and Epic-Oxford, it was found that people who ate seafood had a lower risk of certain cancers than vegetarians.

If you stop eating red meat (regardless of whether you become a vegetarian or not), you will eliminate a risk factor for colon cancer. It is not yet mapped to reduce the risk further by avoiding all animal products. Vegetarians usually have lower levels of potential carcinogens in their colon (colon), but studies comparing cancer rates in vegetarians and non-vegetarians have shown inconsistent results.

Can stabilize blood sugar

Several studies suggest that vegetarian diets can help maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

For example, a review of six different studies showed that people with type 2 diabetes who ate a vegetarian diet had better blood sugar control in. Vegetarian diets can also reduce the risk of future complications in people with diabetes by stabilizing blood sugar levels in the long term.

According to a study of approximately 3000 people, the transition from non-vegetarian to a vegetarian diet was associated with an approximately 50% reduction in the risk of diabetes over the next five years.

A vegetarian diet is good for the heart

There is some evidence that vegetarians have a lower risk of heart disease (such as myocardial infarction) and death due to heart problems. In one of the largest studies, a combined analysis of the data of five prospective studies involving more than 76,000 participants published several years ago, vegetarians were on average 25% less likely to die from heart disease. This result confirmed previous results from studies comparing vegetarian and non-vegetarian study participants.

In another study involving 65,000 people in the Oxford cohort of the European Prospective Investigation of Cancer and Nutrition (Epic-Oxford), researchers found a 19% lower risk of death from heart disease among vegetarians. However, there were few deaths in any of the groups, so the observed differences may have been due to chance.

To protect the heart with a vegetarian diet, it is best to choose fiber-rich whole grains and legumes, which are digested slowly and have a low glycemic index, that is, they help keep the blood sugar level stable. Soluble fibers also help reduce cholesterol levels. Refined carbohydrates and starch such as potatoes, white rice and white flour products cause a rapid increase in blood sugar, which increases the risk of heart attack and diabetes (a risk factor for heart disease).

Nuts also protect the heart and blood vessels. They have a low glycemic index and contain many antioxidants, vegetable protein, fiber, minerals and healthy fatty acids. The downside is that some nuts contain a lot of calories, so limit your daily intake to a small handful of nuts.

Vegetarian diets also reduce the risk of developing risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. A study of 76 people who ate vegetarian diet showed that the study participants had lower levels of triglycerides, total cholesterol and “bad” LDL cholesterol, high levels of these fat varieties are considered risk factors for heart disease.

Similarly, another new study in 118 people found that a low-calorie vegetarian diet was more effective in reducing “bad” LDL cholesterol than a Mediterranean diet.

Other research suggests that vegetarianism can be associated with lower blood pressure levels. High blood pressure is another important risk factor for heart disease.

Examples of foods you can eat

A vegetarian diet should include a varied mixture of fruits, vegetables, grains, healthy fats and proteins.

To replace the protein provided by meat in your diet, include a variety of protein-rich plant foods such as nuts, seeds, legumes, tempeh, tofu and seitan.

If you follow a lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet, eggs and dairy can also increase your protein intake.

Eating nutritious whole foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains will deliver a range of essential vitamins and minerals to fill any nutritional gaps in your diet.

Healthy vegetarian diet

  • Fruits: Apples, bananas, berries, oranges, melons, pears, peach
  • Vegetables: Green salad, asparagus, broccoli, tomatoes, carrots
  • Barley: Quinoa, barley, buckwheat, rice, oat legumes: lentils, beans, peas, chickpea.
  • Nuts: almonds, walnuts, cashews, chestnuts
  • Seeds: Flax seeds, chia and hemp seeds
  • Healthy fats: Coconut oil, olive oil, avocado
  • Proteins: tempeh, tofu, seitan, natto, nutritional yeast, spirulina, eggs, dairy products

Examples of foods you should avoid

There are many variations of vegetarianism, each with different limitations.

Lacto-ovo vegetarianism, the most common type of vegetarian diet, and involves eliminating all meat, chicken/poultry and fish from the diet.

Other types of vegetarianism can also avoid foods such as eggs and dairy products. A vegan diet is the most restrictive form of vegetarianism because it excludes meat, chicken/poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products and other animal products.

Avoid the following foods if you follow a vegetarian diet

  • Meat: Beef, veal and pork Chicken and turkey
  • Fish and shellfish: This restriction does not apply to Pescetarians.
  • Meat-based ingredients: Gelatin, lard, carmine, ice ice cream, oleic acid and tallow
  • Eggs: This restriction applies to vegans and lacto-vegetarians.
  • Dairy products: This restriction of milk, yogurt and cheese apply to vegans and ovo-vegetarians.
  • Other animal products: Vegans can choose to avoid honey, beeswax and pollen.

Most vegetarians avoid meat, chicken/poultry and fish, but some also limit eggs, dairy products and other animal products.

A balanced vegetarian diet with nutritious foods include, cereals, healthy fats and herbal protein. A vegetarian diet offers several health benefits, but it can increase your risk of nutritional deficiencies if poorly planned.

Be sure to pay close attention to some important nutrients and include a variety of healthy foods in your diet. This way you will enjoy the benefits of vegetarianism while minimizing side effects.

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