I decided to write on vegetarianism today, to answer numerous questions, from my readers and patients, especially those that are diabetic, obese and overweight. Most of them over time, had wanted me to discuss what I meant by diabetic diet, whether it was the same thing as a vegetarian diet. One patient specifically asked, “Doc, will being a vegetarian help my diabetes?.
We know that a vegetarian is a person who does not eat the meat of any animal, bird, or fish. There are actually two main types of vegetarian.
Vegans – who eat nothing at all of animal origin, and
Lacto-ovo-vegetarians – who do allow themselves animal products such as milk, eggs, cheese and honey. There are also people who call themselves vegetarians but do eat fish.
Reasons for vegetarianism vary from society to society and from individual to individual. It has been advocated for religious, philosophical, moral, economic and health reasons. It has also been adopted as a necessity, especially among the diabetics in order to control their blood sugar.
A vegetarian diet probably won’t cure your diabetes. But it may offer some benefits over a non-vegetarian diet. For example, it may help to better control your weight, reduce your risk of some diabetic associated complications and make your body more responsive to insulin.
Vegetarian diets, are often lower in calories than non-vegetarian diets. This can help with weight management. Also people following a vegetarian diet do have lower Body Mass Indexes(BMI’s), than people who follow a non-vegetarian diet. A healthy body weight can improve blood sugar control and reduce your risk of diabetic complications. It can also improve insulin response, and reduce cardiovascular disease.
Perhaps, the most powerful arguments for vegetarianism in modern society are
The inefficiency of the animal food production-chain in an over populated and under fed world.
The relative cheapness of the ingredients of vegetarians
The possible unhealthiness of eating meat that contains crop pesticides and antibiotics and hormones given to the animals, and that has been processed in many ways that are not necessarily hygienic or beneficial.
Also, many people feel that the slaughter of animals is cruel and debasing, and that vegetarianism is part of a more peaceful life. Despite the claims of vegetarians, there is no established evidence, that eating meat is unhealthy in itself. But it is certainly as possible to be a healthy, strong, and long-lived vegetarian as it is to be a meat – eater.
A person who chooses to give up meat must be careful that his diet still provides enough of all the right nutrients. There should be no problem with :
Healthy carbohydrates – grains, cereal products, potatoes, fruits.
Fats – vegetable oils, dairy products, nuts, margarine.
Minerals and most vitamins. Always be medically guided.
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