Monthly Archives: March 2014

The Benefits of Going Vegetarian

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Weight loss, a healthier heart, drastically reduced cancer risk and more…

With the proper planning and education, research shows that going vegetarian is an excellent step to improve and protect your health. By minimizing processed foods and emphasizing whole plant foods, vegetarians enjoy a more nutritious and far less toxic way of eating than the average. The bottom line: As a vegetarian, you will be better protected from a range of major diseases, take in more nutrients and potentially lose a lot of weight.

Weight loss

The high water content and fiber in plant foods is probably to thank for the weight loss that occurs when an omnivore becomes vegetarian. Overweight people typically lose 10 percent of their body weight when they switch to a vegetarian diet, and the body-mass index (BMI) of vegetarians is generally lower as well. Vegetarian diets have less saturated fat and are likely to contain less fat overall.

Better digestion

Fiber, the indigestible matter that gives structure to plant foods, is essential for speeding waste out of the body. Virtually all whole plant foods have a positive impact on digestion. Animal foods, on the other hand, contain no fiber and move sluggishly through the digestive system. This results in constipation and putrefaction of meat in the digestive tract, letting harmful bacteria linger.

A healthier heart

Fiber has another health benefit – reducing cholesterol. One type, soluble fiber, actually pulls cholesterol out of the body. Vegetarians also have a head start on healthy cholesterol, since plant foods don’t contain any. As a result, cholesterol levels in vegetarians are typically 40 points lower than those of omnivores. Blood pressure is also lower overall, suggesting that vegetarians have a 20-40 percent reduced risk of heart disease and a 30-60 percent reduced risk of stroke. In fact, an analysis of five studies concluded that vegetarians have a 34 percent reduced risk of dying from a heart attack compared to omnivores.

Slowed aging

High antioxidant content in many plant foods like berries and raw chocolate combats the cellular damage caused by unstable oxygen molecules known as free radicals. Free radicals, which are ingested from cooked foods and polluted air (among other sources), are one of the main causes of aging. A diet high in whole and fresh foods can actually turn back the clock by knocking these down.

Reduced risk of cancer

One of the best reasons to go vegetarian is this: Vegetarians have a 40 percent reduced risk of getting cancer. There are several explanations for this statistic. Vegetarians tend to be thinner, and obesity in particular is associated with increased cancer risk. The high fiber content of plant foods speeds waste through your system, which cuts the risk of colon cancer. And diets high in fat and animal foods spike cancer risk, especially that of breast cancer, through their action on hormones.

A less toxic body

Since animals concentrate the toxins they ingest in their tissues, meat and milk is much higher in toxins than plant foods are. Wild fish contain alarming amounts of mercury; the FDA recommends eating fish only 2-3 times per week. And the EPA reports that 95 percent of human exposure to dioxin, a dangerous toxin, comes from consuming meat, fish and dairy. Animal foods are also often high in pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics and hormones.

Sources for this article include:

 

  • http://www.veganhealth.org/articles/dxmarkers
  • http://healthluv.com
  • http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs225/en/

Plateau! How to Get Over the Flatline

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Every dieter’s experienced it: The dreaded weight loss plateau. You’ve been cruising along smoothly for months, and suddenly, your weight loss stops. Plateaus can be incredibly frustrating. You may not feel as though you’ve made any changes to your diet and fitness routine, but you’ve stopped dropping the weight. If you’ve hit a plateau, it’s time to check and recheck your behavior so you can jump-start your weight loss and get back in the game. Let’s look at some ways you can increase the effectiveness of your diet plan, so that you can continue to drop weight.

Revisit your food journal

Beginning dieters are often advised to keep a food journal, so that they can stay aware of what they’re eating each day. Often, though, as weight loss picks up, the food journal falls by the wayside. When you hit a plateau, it may be time to start writing down everything you eat again. You may find that certain foods trigger small binges that are holding you back, that you’re eating more calories than you’d estimated, or that you’re right on target. Keeping a food journal for a week or two will provide you with the information you need to start getting back on track.

Measure your portion sizes carefully

Once you’ve been dieting for awhile, it’s tempting to stop counting calories and measuring portion sizes. You’ve got the hang of the system, after all, and you understand the correct portion sizes for most of the foods that you eat. If you hit a plateau, however, it may be time to reevaluate your portion sizes and start to measure and count again. It only takes a few extra calories per day to stall your weight loss plan. You’ll quickly end up maintaining your current weight instead of dropping the pounds you want to lose.

Switch to a different physical activity

If you find yourself skipping workouts, having trouble dragging yourself to the gym or simply not exercising as much as you need to for weight loss, it may be time to consider switching up your physical activity. If you’ve been jogging, consider swimming or hiking instead. Regular cardiovascular exercise is key to weight loss, so choose a physical activity that you enjoy and will look forward to doing, instead of one that you hate the thought of. This will make it easier to exercise on a regular basis.

Check your food labels

Take the time to check your food labels thoroughly, even if they’re foods you’re familiar with. Manufacturers change package sizes from time to time, which could make a difference in calorie counts, fat content and more. If you’ve hit a weight loss plateau, it may be time to assess the foods that you consume on a regular basis and re-read their labels. You may be surprised to learn that a serving size has changed, or that a food simply has more fat, calories or sugar than you’d remembered it having. Careful calorie counting is one important key to weight loss, and label reading is an important part of this process.

Diet plateaus are almost always temporary, so don’t stress too much about yours. Instead, focus on healthy lifestyle changes, such as eating cleanly and getting regular cardiovascular exercise. It’s only a matter of time before your weight begins to drop again, and you’ll soon be well on your way to achieving your weight loss goal.