Healthy Food

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Depression has gripped millions of people around the globe in its tight clutches. It is estimated that over 280 million people struggle with depression worldwide. A leading cause of disability globally, depression is a major contributor to the global burden of disease and, at its worst, can even lead to suicide. This debilitating condition encumbers countless to even get out of bed and perform their daily activities. In addition, due to hormonal changes in women, they are more vulnerable to depression than men. 

The lack of cure and sustainable treatments has stirred scientists worldwide to undertake studies and research to find treatment options beyond antidepressants. According to a recent study involving more than 5800 women, a high-fibre diet can lead to a reduced risk of depression, especially in premenopausal women. There is no denying that the food we eat can affect our mood and physical and mental health. Let us understand how a high-fibre diet can help lower depression risk.

What is Dietary Fibre?

Dietary fibre, commonly known as roughage, is derived from indigestible parts of plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. It is a type of carbohydrate made up of sugar molecules linked together. Since fibre cannot be broken down by our body, it passes down intact through our stomach and intestines. Insoluble fibre is known to aid in the digestive process, help curb appetite, control blood sugar, lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart diseases. Several studies also attest to its inverse relationship with mental health issues such as depression.

The Relation Between Gut and Brain Health

The link between fibre and depression can be explained by the interaction between the gut and brain. Fibre is said to improve the richness and diversity of gut microbiota which affects neurotransmission. Since 90% of the body’s serotonin, a neurotransmitter known to prevent depression is produced in the gut, a high-fibre diet can increase serotonin levels. To put it succinctly, a high-fibre diet improves serotonin production, which further elevates emotional and mental health. If by paying attention to what’s at the end of your fork you can keep grave ailments like depression at bay, it might be best to include fibre in your daily diet.

Also, Read: Diet of Kids with Cystic Fibrosis

Prevention Is Better Than Cure

Since there is currently no cure for depression and treatments are either expensive or unsustainable in the long run, it is best to prevent the onset of depression. While there is nothing inherently wrong with antidepressants and therapy, drugs can have severe side effects in the long run. As a result, it is better to look at other healthy options such as dietary changes, regular exercise, meditation, and mindfulness. Opting for a high-fibre diet can help lower depression risk and the occurrence of depression symptoms. It is a much better option to never have depression rather than having it and treating it.

High-Fibre Foods to Include in Your Diet

There is a wide variety of high-fibre foods that are easily available in all parts of the world. Rich sources of fibre include fruits like apples, oranges, bananas, berries green leafy vegetables and cruciferous vegetables. Whole grains like oats, barley, wheat, legumes like beans, lentils, peas, nuts, and seeds, different sources of bran like wheat bran, rice bran and corn bran are also packed with dietary fibre. Even avocado, dark chocolate, quinoa and artichokes can help fulfil daily fibre requirements. Just consuming one or two extra servings of fibre-rich foods can help enrich a regular diet with dietary fibre and keep depression at bay.

How Much Dietary Fibre to Eat in a Day?

It is recommended to consume at least 25-30 grams of fibre each day. For maximum health benefits, it is best to increase your fibre intake. Men aged 50 or younger should consume 38 grams daily, whereas women aged 50 or younger should take 25 grams. For men older than 50 years, 30 grams is advisable, and for women over 51, a daily intake of 21 grams is sufficient. Of these, 10 to 15 grams of daily dietary fibre should be a soluble fibre that comes from fruits, vegetables and seeds. It is best to include a variety of fibre-rich foods in your diet and make sure that they are fresh and not canned or processed. 

Key Takeaways

To fight a disease as prevalent and detrimental as depression, consistent and unified efforts must be made. If by making improvements to diet with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, exercising regularly and improving mindfulness, the risk of depression can be lowered, then there is no easier way. We must not forget ‘we are what we eat’. By providing the body and brain with the right nutrients and resources, one can encourage proper brain function and improve physical, emotional and mental health.

Also, Read: 5 Must-Have Fruits on your Baby’s Summer Diet

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Depression has gripped millions of people around the globe in its tight clutches. It is estimated that over 280 million people struggle with depression worldwide. A leading cause of disability globally, depression is a major contributor to the global burden of disease and, at its worst, can even lead to suicide. This debilitating condition encumbers countless to even get out of bed and perform their daily activities. In addition, due to hormonal changes in women, they are more vulnerable to depression than men. 

The lack of cure and sustainable treatments has stirred scientists worldwide to undertake studies and research to find treatment options beyond antidepressants. According to a recent study involving more than 5800 women, a high-fibre diet can lead to a reduced risk of depression, especially in premenopausal women. There is no denying that the food we eat can affect our mood and physical and mental health. Let us understand how a high-fibre diet can help lower depression risk.

What is Dietary Fibre?

Dietary fibre, commonly known as roughage, is derived from indigestible parts of plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. It is a type of carbohydrate made up of sugar molecules linked together. Since fibre cannot be broken down by our body, it passes down intact through our stomach and intestines. Insoluble fibre is known to aid in the digestive process, help curb appetite, control blood sugar, lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart diseases. Several studies also attest to its inverse relationship with mental health issues such as depression.

The Relation Between Gut and Brain Health

The link between fibre and depression can be explained by the interaction between the gut and brain. Fibre is said to improve the richness and diversity of gut microbiota which affects neurotransmission. Since 90% of the body’s serotonin, a neurotransmitter known to prevent depression is produced in the gut, a high-fibre diet can increase serotonin levels. To put it succinctly, a high-fibre diet improves serotonin production, which further elevates emotional and mental health. If by paying attention to what’s at the end of your fork you can keep grave ailments like depression at bay, it might be best to include fibre in your daily diet.

Also, Read: Diet of Kids with Cystic Fibrosis

Prevention Is Better Than Cure

Since there is currently no cure for depression and treatments are either expensive or unsustainable in the long run, it is best to prevent the onset of depression. While there is nothing inherently wrong with antidepressants and therapy, drugs can have severe side effects in the long run. As a result, it is better to look at other healthy options such as dietary changes, regular exercise, meditation, and mindfulness. Opting for a high-fibre diet can help lower depression risk and the occurrence of depression symptoms. It is a much better option to never have depression rather than having it and treating it.

High-Fibre Foods to Include in Your Diet

There is a wide variety of high-fibre foods that are easily available in all parts of the world. Rich sources of fibre include fruits like apples, oranges, bananas, berries green leafy vegetables and cruciferous vegetables. Whole grains like oats, barley, wheat, legumes like beans, lentils, peas, nuts, and seeds, different sources of bran like wheat bran, rice bran and corn bran are also packed with dietary fibre. Even avocado, dark chocolate, quinoa and artichokes can help fulfil daily fibre requirements. Just consuming one or two extra servings of fibre-rich foods can help enrich a regular diet with dietary fibre and keep depression at bay.

How Much Dietary Fibre to Eat in a Day?

It is recommended to consume at least 25-30 grams of fibre each day. For maximum health benefits, it is best to increase your fibre intake. Men aged 50 or younger should consume 38 grams daily, whereas women aged 50 or younger should take 25 grams. For men older than 50 years, 30 grams is advisable, and for women over 51, a daily intake of 21 grams is sufficient. Of these, 10 to 15 grams of daily dietary fibre should be a soluble fibre that comes from fruits, vegetables and seeds. It is best to include a variety of fibre-rich foods in your diet and make sure that they are fresh and not canned or processed. 

Key Takeaways

To fight a disease as prevalent and detrimental as depression, consistent and unified efforts must be made. If by making improvements to diet with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, exercising regularly and improving mindfulness, the risk of depression can be lowered, then there is no easier way. We must not forget ‘we are what we eat’. By providing the body and brain with the right nutrients and resources, one can encourage proper brain function and improve physical, emotional and mental health.

Also, Read: 5 Must-Have Fruits on your Baby’s Summer Diet

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How a High-Fibre Diet Can Help Lower Depression Risk

How a High-Fibre Diet Can Help Lower Depression Risk

August 9, 2022

Depression has gripped millions of people around the globe in its ti...

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Baby Feeding

Baby Feeding – The first few years of a child’s life are critical. A baby’s healthcare and nutrition during these years lay the foundation for their healthy lives ahead. While all their developing years are equally important, the first year is especially significant.

Feeding your baby right in the first 12 months affects their growth and well-being in the later years. As a new parent, it is easy to be overwhelmed and concerned. But if you remember a few basics, there is no reason to worry.

What to Feed an Infant?

The first six months of a baby’s life can be simple, yet crucial for their diet. Breastfeeding during this period is common across several cultures and is also recommended by doctors and health organisations.

Mothers are advised to breastfeed their kids within the first hour after birth, if possible. It reduces the chances of mortality. Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for the first six months to ensure optimal nutrition and protection against diseases.

A mother carrying infections such as HIV could be worried about passing it on to the baby. Antiretroviral treatments (ARTs) can reduce the risk of passing infections from mother to child. Safe breastfeeding can contribute to the babies’ immunity.

If a mother cannot breastfeed the baby, bottle-feeding is the alternative. It is best to consult your doctor about the best options for your baby. Bottle-fed babies may need fewer feeding cycles per day than breastfed babies.

After six months of age, parents can start with complementary feeding. Children show specific signs of development and need additional nutrition. It is advisable to introduce it slowly, instead of making sudden changes.

Some solid foods you can introduce into your child’s diet after six months include grains, such as rice, fruits, vegetables, and more. Cook grains till they are soft or mash them. You can also mix them with milk. Fruits and vegetables should be soft, mashed, or cut into tiny pieces.

Properly wash and clean fruits and vegetables. Avoid serving seeds and peels. If you are feeding meat or fish to the child, ensure that it is well-cooked, soft, and without bones. Break it apart into smaller pieces.

Complementary feeding can continue for up to two years of age. It is best to avoid animal milk and juices in the first year, or at least the first few months. When feeding solids, soft foods fed in tiny portions are best to avoid choking hazards.

How Often to Feed the Baby?

In the initial few months, sleeping and eating dominate the babies’ routine. A newborn could need anywhere between 8 to 12 sessions of feeding, at least in the first few weeks. It can reduce to 6 to 8 times in the next three months, eventually plateauing around the six-month mark.

Since newborns will need constant attention and will get hungry often, it is important to let them dictate the feeding cycles. After the second month, they may begin showing clear signs of hunger, such as looking for the mother’s breast or the bottle, trying to put their hands in their mouth, and fussing. After the first few months, you can calibrate the feeding schedule to something suitable for both the mother and the child.

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Baby Feeding

Baby Feeding – The first few years of a child’s life are critical. A baby’s healthcare and nutrition during these years lay the foundation for their healthy lives ahead. While all their developing years are equally important, the first year is especially significant.

Feeding your baby right in the first 12 months affects their growth and well-being in the later years. As a new parent, it is easy to be overwhelmed and concerned. But if you remember a few basics, there is no reason to worry.

What to Feed an Infant?

The first six months of a baby’s life can be simple, yet crucial for their diet. Breastfeeding during this period is common across several cultures and is also recommended by doctors and health organisations.

Mothers are advised to breastfeed their kids within the first hour after birth, if possible. It reduces the chances of mortality. Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for the first six months to ensure optimal nutrition and protection against diseases.

A mother carrying infections such as HIV could be worried about passing it on to the baby. Antiretroviral treatments (ARTs) can reduce the risk of passing infections from mother to child. Safe breastfeeding can contribute to the babies’ immunity.

If a mother cannot breastfeed the baby, bottle-feeding is the alternative. It is best to consult your doctor about the best options for your baby. Bottle-fed babies may need fewer feeding cycles per day than breastfed babies.

After six months of age, parents can start with complementary feeding. Children show specific signs of development and need additional nutrition. It is advisable to introduce it slowly, instead of making sudden changes.

Some solid foods you can introduce into your child’s diet after six months include grains, such as rice, fruits, vegetables, and more. Cook grains till they are soft or mash them. You can also mix them with milk. Fruits and vegetables should be soft, mashed, or cut into tiny pieces.

Properly wash and clean fruits and vegetables. Avoid serving seeds and peels. If you are feeding meat or fish to the child, ensure that it is well-cooked, soft, and without bones. Break it apart into smaller pieces.

Complementary feeding can continue for up to two years of age. It is best to avoid animal milk and juices in the first year, or at least the first few months. When feeding solids, soft foods fed in tiny portions are best to avoid choking hazards.

How Often to Feed the Baby?

In the initial few months, sleeping and eating dominate the babies’ routine. A newborn could need anywhere between 8 to 12 sessions of feeding, at least in the first few weeks. It can reduce to 6 to 8 times in the next three months, eventually plateauing around the six-month mark.

Since newborns will need constant attention and will get hungry often, it is important to let them dictate the feeding cycles. After the second month, they may begin showing clear signs of hunger, such as looking for the mother’s breast or the bottle, trying to put their hands in their mouth, and fussing. After the first few months, you can calibrate the feeding schedule to something suitable for both the mother and the child.

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Year One of Baby Feeding: How to Ensure a Healthy Diet for Your Infant

Year One of Baby Feeding: How to Ensure a Healthy Diet for Your Infant

October 19, 2021

Baby Feeding Baby Feeding – The f...

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People following a vegetarian diet do not eat meat or fish, but may continue to eat eggs and dairy products. A person does not have to eat meat to get all the nutrients they need for good health. A meat-free diet can lead to better health for several reasons.

One reason is that many people who follow a vegetarian diet tend to consume a high proportion of fresh, healthful, plant-based foods, which provide antioxidants and fiber. When a person decides to follow a meat-free diet, they often become more active in making overall healthy choices.

Many studies agree that a vegetarian diet can offer a range of health benefits. Studies show that a vegan or vegetarian diet may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and various types of cancer.

A non-meat diet may also reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome, which includes obesity and type 2 diabetes.

According to a 2019 Gallup poll, 5% of people in the United States describe themselves as vegetarian, including 2% of people aged 55 and over, 8% of those aged 18–34 years, and 7% of people aged 35–54.

This article will focus on the lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet, which includes dairy products and eggs.

What foods do vegetarians eat?

A vegetarian diet can provide a wide variety of healthful, nutritious foods, but what the person eats will depend on the type of diet they are following and their personal food choices.

There is a variety of diets that come under the umbrella term vegetarian:

  • Lacto-ovo-vegetarians avoid both meat and fish but consume dairy and eggs.
  • Lacto-vegetarians consume dairy products but no eggs.
  • Ovo-vegetarians consume eggs but no dairy.

Some people who do not eat meat, will eat fish. This is a pescatarian diet, rather than a vegetarian diet. A vegan diet excludes all animal-based foods.

People following a vegetarian diet must make careful choices about what they eat to ensure that they meet their nutritional requirements. Some people may need supplements.

Benefits

A growing number of younger people are adopting a vegetarian diet, as the Gallup poll shows.

They may do this because:

  • it brings health benefits
  • it is a more ecologically sustainable option
  • they have concerns about the treatment of animals
  • it is part of a broader lifestyle choice

Some people also avoid meat and animal products for religious reasons. Here are some ways in which avoiding meat products can enhance a person’s health.

Weight: Switching to a vegetarian diet may help a person lose weight, at least in the short-term, according to a 2016 meta-analysis. Scientists need to carry out longer term controlled studies to understand how a vegetarian diet might affect weight.

Cholesterol: A systematic review published in 2015 concluded that people who follow a vegetarian diet are likely to have lower overall cholesterol levels.

Cancer: A study of data for nearly 70,000 people found evidence that the incidence of cancer overall was lower among vegetarians than non-vegetarians. The authors suggested that a non-meat diet may offer some protection from cancer.

Heart health: Authors of a 2014 study found a lower risk of cardiovascular disease in people who followed a vegetarian diet in India. Studies in western countries had already produced similar results.

Diabetes: People who follow a vegetarian diet may be less likely to have type 2 diabetes. One reason for this may be a higher intake of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts, and a lower intake of unhealthful fats.

These benefits will not automatically happen when a person stops eating meat. Alongside a vegetarian diet, people need to make sure they:

  • get the right number of calories
  • focus on a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
  • limit their intake of processed foods and alcohol
  • avoid unhealthful fats and added sugar and salt
  • engage in an overall healthful lifestyle, with plenty of exercise
  • avoid smoking

What are the health benefits of a vegan diet?

Sustainability in addition to the health benefits, dieticians say a plant-based diet is more sustainable, as it causes less harm to the environment than a meat-based diet.

Tips for getting started:

Here are some tips for switching to a vegetarian diet:

  • Start learning about the nutrients required, and how to obtain them.
  • Get some tips and recipes from vegetarian websites, a local health food shop, or a nutritionist.
  • Make a weekly shopping and meal plan.
  • Focus on a variety of meat-free dishes that provide complete protein, so that you do not end up eating as before, but just leaving out the meat.
  • Consider making the change gradually, for example, over a month.
  • Start with familiar meat-free foods, such as mac and cheese and salad, and add to your repertoire over time.

A gradual change may work better for two reasons:

It is more likely to become a lifestyle and a long-term move. Sudden dietary changes, such as an increase in the consumption of beans or vegetables, might lead to temporary digestive problems, such as bloating.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics have a range of tips for people who want to stop eating meat:

Choose whole grain products, such as whole wheat bread, wild or brown rice, and whole grain cereals, as these can provide B vitamins.

  • Vary the diet, with whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and so on.
  • Use eggs and dairy products in moderation, or try adding soy milk.
  • Ask a healthcare professional about supplements, especially vitamin B-12.
  • Ensure a sufficient intake of vitamin D, especially if exposure to sunlight is low.
  • Check the labels of “healthful” vegetarian snacks to ensure they do not contain a lot of sugar, salt, or other additives.
  • Remember that junk food and fast food can be unhealthful and high in calories, whether they are vegetarian or not.
  • They also suggest reducing the intake of high sugar and high fat foods.

The nutrients you need:

Some scientists say that a vegetarian diet is beneficial to people of all ages, but they note the need to plan appropriately to obtain the whole range of essential nutrients.

The chart below lists some of nutrients that a person following a vegetarian diet may lack, how much of them an adult requires, and some examples of foods that contain them. Some people may also need supplements to boost their levels of these nutrients. Needs may increase during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Nutrient Needs for adults aged 19 years and over Sources

Iron 8–18 milligrams (mg) Pulses, including beans, chickpeas, lentils tofu, spinach, cashew nuts, and green peas. Consume these with vitamin C, which helps the body absorb iron.

Calcium 1,000–1,200 mg

Yogurt, milk, cheese, tofu, fortified orange juice, kale, turnip greens, and broccoli. Calcium is essential for children and women around the time of menopause.

Protein 46–56 g

Eggs, milk, soy milk, nuts, nut butters, seeds, pulses, and cereals. Vegetable sources may not contain complete protein, so people should ensure they get enough of all types of protein throughout the day.

Vitamin D

15–20 micrograms (mcg)

Fortified dairy, soy milk, and breakfast cereals, alongside exposure to sunlight.

Vitamin B-12 2.4 mcg

Yeast, eggs, dairy products, fortified foods, such as breakfast cereals.

Zinc 8–11 mg

Dairy products, fortified cereals, dried beans, nuts, and soy products.

Iodine 150 mcg

Seaweed, yogurt, milk, cheese, enriched bread, enriched macaroni, prunes, lima beans, apple juice, green peas, and bananas.

A vegetarian diet will not guarantee good health, but it can contribute to overall healthful dietary choices. A person still needs to make healthful choices, such as avoiding added sugar and high fat processed foods.

Parents and caregivers of children who follow a vegetarian diet, should ensure the child is obtaining the nutrients they need for their age and stage of growth. This may include making sure the child is not just eating the family meal minus the meat.

What are the key nutrients a person needs?  

The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans provide an eating pattern to help people eat healthfully on a vegetarian diet. It advises on suitable quantities of:

  • dark green vegetables
  • red and orange vegetables
  • legumes
  • starchy and other vegetables
  • whole and refined grains
  • dairy products
  • proteins foods, such as eggs, legumes, soy products, nuts, and seeds
  • oils

People who follow a vegan diet may need supplements. 

Summary

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a well-planned vegetarian or vegan diet can be healthful for people at all stages of life.

Plant-based diets may help reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and other conditions. Plant-based foods also tend to be more environmentally sustainable than animal-based foods.

It is worth remembering, however, that going veggie will not make a person healthy overnight. To see improvements in health, it is essential to plan well, include a variety of ingredients, and make the diet part of an overall healthful lifestyle.

For people who wish to reduce their meat intake but feel this is too difficult, a gradual or partial switch may be a suitable option.

The American Heart Association (AHA) offer tips for going meatless, especially for people who would like to lower their cholesterol levels and decrease their risk of heart disease.

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People following a vegetarian diet do not eat meat or fish, but may continue to eat eggs and dairy products. A person does not have to eat meat to get all the nutrients they need for good health. A meat-free diet can lead to better health for several reasons.

One reason is that many people who follow a vegetarian diet tend to consume a high proportion of fresh, healthful, plant-based foods, which provide antioxidants and fiber. When a person decides to follow a meat-free diet, they often become more active in making overall healthy choices.

Many studies agree that a vegetarian diet can offer a range of health benefits. Studies show that a vegan or vegetarian diet may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and various types of cancer.

A non-meat diet may also reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome, which includes obesity and type 2 diabetes.

According to a 2019 Gallup poll, 5% of people in the United States describe themselves as vegetarian, including 2% of people aged 55 and over, 8% of those aged 18–34 years, and 7% of people aged 35–54.

This article will focus on the lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet, which includes dairy products and eggs.

What foods do vegetarians eat?

A vegetarian diet can provide a wide variety of healthful, nutritious foods, but what the person eats will depend on the type of diet they are following and their personal food choices.

There is a variety of diets that come under the umbrella term vegetarian:

  • Lacto-ovo-vegetarians avoid both meat and fish but consume dairy and eggs.
  • Lacto-vegetarians consume dairy products but no eggs.
  • Ovo-vegetarians consume eggs but no dairy.

Some people who do not eat meat, will eat fish. This is a pescatarian diet, rather than a vegetarian diet. A vegan diet excludes all animal-based foods.

People following a vegetarian diet must make careful choices about what they eat to ensure that they meet their nutritional requirements. Some people may need supplements.

Benefits

A growing number of younger people are adopting a vegetarian diet, as the Gallup poll shows.

They may do this because:

  • it brings health benefits
  • it is a more ecologically sustainable option
  • they have concerns about the treatment of animals
  • it is part of a broader lifestyle choice

Some people also avoid meat and animal products for religious reasons. Here are some ways in which avoiding meat products can enhance a person’s health.

Weight: Switching to a vegetarian diet may help a person lose weight, at least in the short-term, according to a 2016 meta-analysis. Scientists need to carry out longer term controlled studies to understand how a vegetarian diet might affect weight.

Cholesterol: A systematic review published in 2015 concluded that people who follow a vegetarian diet are likely to have lower overall cholesterol levels.

Cancer: A study of data for nearly 70,000 people found evidence that the incidence of cancer overall was lower among vegetarians than non-vegetarians. The authors suggested that a non-meat diet may offer some protection from cancer.

Heart health: Authors of a 2014 study found a lower risk of cardiovascular disease in people who followed a vegetarian diet in India. Studies in western countries had already produced similar results.

Diabetes: People who follow a vegetarian diet may be less likely to have type 2 diabetes. One reason for this may be a higher intake of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts, and a lower intake of unhealthful fats.

These benefits will not automatically happen when a person stops eating meat. Alongside a vegetarian diet, people need to make sure they:

  • get the right number of calories
  • focus on a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
  • limit their intake of processed foods and alcohol
  • avoid unhealthful fats and added sugar and salt
  • engage in an overall healthful lifestyle, with plenty of exercise
  • avoid smoking

What are the health benefits of a vegan diet?

Sustainability in addition to the health benefits, dieticians say a plant-based diet is more sustainable, as it causes less harm to the environment than a meat-based diet.

Tips for getting started:

Here are some tips for switching to a vegetarian diet:

  • Start learning about the nutrients required, and how to obtain them.
  • Get some tips and recipes from vegetarian websites, a local health food shop, or a nutritionist.
  • Make a weekly shopping and meal plan.
  • Focus on a variety of meat-free dishes that provide complete protein, so that you do not end up eating as before, but just leaving out the meat.
  • Consider making the change gradually, for example, over a month.
  • Start with familiar meat-free foods, such as mac and cheese and salad, and add to your repertoire over time.

A gradual change may work better for two reasons:

It is more likely to become a lifestyle and a long-term move. Sudden dietary changes, such as an increase in the consumption of beans or vegetables, might lead to temporary digestive problems, such as bloating.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics have a range of tips for people who want to stop eating meat:

Choose whole grain products, such as whole wheat bread, wild or brown rice, and whole grain cereals, as these can provide B vitamins.

  • Vary the diet, with whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and so on.
  • Use eggs and dairy products in moderation, or try adding soy milk.
  • Ask a healthcare professional about supplements, especially vitamin B-12.
  • Ensure a sufficient intake of vitamin D, especially if exposure to sunlight is low.
  • Check the labels of “healthful” vegetarian snacks to ensure they do not contain a lot of sugar, salt, or other additives.
  • Remember that junk food and fast food can be unhealthful and high in calories, whether they are vegetarian or not.
  • They also suggest reducing the intake of high sugar and high fat foods.

The nutrients you need:

Some scientists say that a vegetarian diet is beneficial to people of all ages, but they note the need to plan appropriately to obtain the whole range of essential nutrients.

The chart below lists some of nutrients that a person following a vegetarian diet may lack, how much of them an adult requires, and some examples of foods that contain them. Some people may also need supplements to boost their levels of these nutrients. Needs may increase during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Nutrient Needs for adults aged 19 years and over Sources

Iron 8–18 milligrams (mg) Pulses, including beans, chickpeas, lentils tofu, spinach, cashew nuts, and green peas. Consume these with vitamin C, which helps the body absorb iron.

Calcium 1,000–1,200 mg

Yogurt, milk, cheese, tofu, fortified orange juice, kale, turnip greens, and broccoli. Calcium is essential for children and women around the time of menopause.

Protein 46–56 g

Eggs, milk, soy milk, nuts, nut butters, seeds, pulses, and cereals. Vegetable sources may not contain complete protein, so people should ensure they get enough of all types of protein throughout the day.

Vitamin D

15–20 micrograms (mcg)

Fortified dairy, soy milk, and breakfast cereals, alongside exposure to sunlight.

Vitamin B-12 2.4 mcg

Yeast, eggs, dairy products, fortified foods, such as breakfast cereals.

Zinc 8–11 mg

Dairy products, fortified cereals, dried beans, nuts, and soy products.

Iodine 150 mcg

Seaweed, yogurt, milk, cheese, enriched bread, enriched macaroni, prunes, lima beans, apple juice, green peas, and bananas.

A vegetarian diet will not guarantee good health, but it can contribute to overall healthful dietary choices. A person still needs to make healthful choices, such as avoiding added sugar and high fat processed foods.

Parents and caregivers of children who follow a vegetarian diet, should ensure the child is obtaining the nutrients they need for their age and stage of growth. This may include making sure the child is not just eating the family meal minus the meat.

What are the key nutrients a person needs?  

The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans provide an eating pattern to help people eat healthfully on a vegetarian diet. It advises on suitable quantities of:

  • dark green vegetables
  • red and orange vegetables
  • legumes
  • starchy and other vegetables
  • whole and refined grains
  • dairy products
  • proteins foods, such as eggs, legumes, soy products, nuts, and seeds
  • oils

People who follow a vegan diet may need supplements. 

Summary

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a well-planned vegetarian or vegan diet can be healthful for people at all stages of life.

Plant-based diets may help reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and other conditions. Plant-based foods also tend to be more environmentally sustainable than animal-based foods.

It is worth remembering, however, that going veggie will not make a person healthy overnight. To see improvements in health, it is essential to plan well, include a variety of ingredients, and make the diet part of an overall healthful lifestyle.

For people who wish to reduce their meat intake but feel this is too difficult, a gradual or partial switch may be a suitable option.

The American Heart Association (AHA) offer tips for going meatless, especially for people who would like to lower their cholesterol levels and decrease their risk of heart disease.

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Importance of Vegetarian Diets

Importance of Vegetarian Diets

October 1, 2020

People following a vegetarian diet do not...

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            [blog_title] => Nutritious Diet During High-risk Pregnancy
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We have all heard the saying ‘we are what we eat’. While all of us need to maintain a healthy and balanced diet, it is especially a matter of concern for a pregnant woman. A nutritious diet becomes even more imperative in a pregnancy that has high-risk factors like age – being too old or too young, health problems including high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity or being overweight, multiple births leading to premature labour, and more. High-risk pregnancies have complications that can affect either the baby or mother or both. In such situations, a woman has to be extra cautious about her eating habits.

There are many foods in the food pyramid that a woman should consume or avoid before, during and after pregnancy. Eating for two is a common misconception – While many think that this means that they must eat twice their normal intake in a day, it means to eat keeping in mind that what nutrients they consume will also be eaten by their baby.

List of Nutrients Baby Must Consume

Proteins– A pregnant woman must consume proteins three times a day, preferably during each meal to support the healthy growth and development of the baby. Foods that are rich in proteins include meat as well as poultry, fish and eggs, as well as dairy products like cheese, ghee and milk. They must also try to munch on nuts and seeds between meals as these have high protein levels. Proteins are often referred to as ‘builder foods’ as they help in forming the baby’s important organs like the heart and the brain.

Whole grains– Fortunately, in the Indian diet, half of the carbohydrates come from whole grain foods. Foods such as chappatis, whole grain wheat, oatmeal, and brown rice give the soon-to-be mother energy to keep her going throughout the day and are a good source of Vitamin B, fibre and iron.

Dairy– This is the third important food group that pregnant women must consider in their diet plan as dairy products provide calcium, potassium, Vitamin D and protein, all of which are needed to strengthen the baby’s bones. At least two to three helpings a day of milk, curd (dahi) and cottage cheese (paneer) must be consumed by expecting mothers.

Fruits and Vegetables– These vibrant and colourful natural foods are very nutritious for pregnant women. They must concentrate on the consumption of fruits and vegetables, especially during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. Five to ten servings of fruits must be consumed every day. It does sound like a lot, but it is needed to maintain a healthy body as fruits and vegetables are rich in fibre, vitamins and minerals and low in calories. One must take care not to add too many unnecessary fats like oil as it may lead to gaining unwanted weight.

The right choice of food and beverages by a woman during pregnancy is crucial as it is these choices that are the main supply of nourishment to the baby. Caffeine is a beverage that is very hard to just stop drinking, thus, doctors have now allowed mothers to drink up to 12 ounces of coffee a day which amounts to one cup. Consumption of this much caffeine will not prove to be harmful to the baby or contribute to any complications. Fish is also a good source of protein for mothers, but certain types of fish that have a high level of mercury must be avoided completely as mercury is proven to be harmful to the developing brain of the baby.

Other foods that must be avoided by mothers include unpasteurized and processed foods, raw and uncooked meat as well as all forms of alcohol.

When you attempt to eat right every day for the sake of your baby, you also help yourself in the process.

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We have all heard the saying ‘we are what we eat’. While all of us need to maintain a healthy and balanced diet, it is especially a matter of concern for a pregnant woman. A nutritious diet becomes even more imperative in a pregnancy that has high-risk factors like age – being too old or too young, health problems including high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity or being overweight, multiple births leading to premature labour, and more. High-risk pregnancies have complications that can affect either the baby or mother or both. In such situations, a woman has to be extra cautious about her eating habits.

There are many foods in the food pyramid that a woman should consume or avoid before, during and after pregnancy. Eating for two is a common misconception – While many think that this means that they must eat twice their normal intake in a day, it means to eat keeping in mind that what nutrients they consume will also be eaten by their baby.

List of Nutrients Baby Must Consume

Proteins– A pregnant woman must consume proteins three times a day, preferably during each meal to support the healthy growth and development of the baby. Foods that are rich in proteins include meat as well as poultry, fish and eggs, as well as dairy products like cheese, ghee and milk. They must also try to munch on nuts and seeds between meals as these have high protein levels. Proteins are often referred to as ‘builder foods’ as they help in forming the baby’s important organs like the heart and the brain.

Whole grains– Fortunately, in the Indian diet, half of the carbohydrates come from whole grain foods. Foods such as chappatis, whole grain wheat, oatmeal, and brown rice give the soon-to-be mother energy to keep her going throughout the day and are a good source of Vitamin B, fibre and iron.

Dairy– This is the third important food group that pregnant women must consider in their diet plan as dairy products provide calcium, potassium, Vitamin D and protein, all of which are needed to strengthen the baby’s bones. At least two to three helpings a day of milk, curd (dahi) and cottage cheese (paneer) must be consumed by expecting mothers.

Fruits and Vegetables– These vibrant and colourful natural foods are very nutritious for pregnant women. They must concentrate on the consumption of fruits and vegetables, especially during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. Five to ten servings of fruits must be consumed every day. It does sound like a lot, but it is needed to maintain a healthy body as fruits and vegetables are rich in fibre, vitamins and minerals and low in calories. One must take care not to add too many unnecessary fats like oil as it may lead to gaining unwanted weight.

The right choice of food and beverages by a woman during pregnancy is crucial as it is these choices that are the main supply of nourishment to the baby. Caffeine is a beverage that is very hard to just stop drinking, thus, doctors have now allowed mothers to drink up to 12 ounces of coffee a day which amounts to one cup. Consumption of this much caffeine will not prove to be harmful to the baby or contribute to any complications. Fish is also a good source of protein for mothers, but certain types of fish that have a high level of mercury must be avoided completely as mercury is proven to be harmful to the developing brain of the baby.

Other foods that must be avoided by mothers include unpasteurized and processed foods, raw and uncooked meat as well as all forms of alcohol.

When you attempt to eat right every day for the sake of your baby, you also help yourself in the process.

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Nutritious Diet During High-risk Pregnancy

Nutritious Diet During High-risk Pregnancy

February 5, 2019

We have all heard the saying ‘we are what we eat’. While...

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            [blog_title] => Vitamin D Deficiency: Signs and Symptoms
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Get some early morning Sun! It’s good for your bones!”. We have heard this from our elders over the years, not realising how important their advice is.

Vitamin D is known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’, simply because we absorb it throughout skin, when we expose ourselves to early morning sunlight. It helps your body absorb calcium, reducing the risk of deficiency which can lead to osteoporosis (low bone density) and becoming prone to fractures (broken bones or mild cracks).

While traditionally it was always associated with bone strength, studies on vitamin D show that it is equally important for cell proliferation, differentiation and immune function. It is an important factor in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, certain types of cancers, obesity, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and even psychiatric diseases. Sufficient intake of Vitamin D, along with other supplements, is very crucial for pregnant women.

The quantity and quality of sunlight are both equal contributors to substantial vitamin D absorption. Due to higher levels of pollution, the UV light of 290–300-nm wavelength gets filtered out, leading to higher rates of deficiency in urban populations.

Though not very easy to get naturally as some other nutrients, your body naturally makes some vitamin D when you are in the sun, and when you consume foods like fish, egg yolks, and fortified yoghurt, mushrooms, fortified milk, fortified soya products, as well as supplements.

Deficiency in this vital vitamin occurs when your body doesn’t get or process adequate amounts of vitamin D. Other low vitamin D symptoms include muscle weakness and cramps, hair loss, and tiredness or fatigue. It is often not diagnosed right away, because it either produces no symptoms, or its symptoms overlap with many other health conditions. When symptoms show up, an orthopaedic doctor may recommend a bone density test, among other things, to identify the root cause.

The good news is that vitamin D deficiency is relatively easy to treat with supplements, once your healthcare provider identifies it.

What are the signs and symptoms of vitamin D deficiency?

Signs and symptoms in adults include:

  • Fatigue and Tiredness
  • Muscle Pain and Weakness
  • Muscle aches or muscle cramps
  • Mood changes, like depression
  • Bone Fractures and Osteoporosis
  • Hair Loss
  • Eczema
  • Gum Disease and Tooth Loss
  • UTIs, Incontinence
  • Sleep problems

Vitamin D deficiency in pregnant women has been found to be associated with an increased risk of pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes mellitus, preterm birth, and other tissue-specific conditions.

Severe lack of vitamin D in children causes rickets. Symptoms of rickets include:

  • Incorrect growth patterns due to bowed or bent bones
  • Muscle weakness
  • Bone pain
  • Deformities in joints (This is very rare.)
  • Children with a mild vitamin deficiency may just have weak, sore and/or painful muscles.

The best way to improve vitamin D levels is consuming nutrient-rich foods, taking early morning walks, or sitting in the morning sun in order to expose your skin and absorbing this essential nutrient.

Simultaneously, it is always good to speak to your general physician about measures to improve your vitamin D, through foods and supplements.

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Get some early morning Sun! It’s good for your bones!”. We have heard this from our elders over the years, not realising how important their advice is.

Vitamin D is known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’, simply because we absorb it throughout skin, when we expose ourselves to early morning sunlight. It helps your body absorb calcium, reducing the risk of deficiency which can lead to osteoporosis (low bone density) and becoming prone to fractures (broken bones or mild cracks).

While traditionally it was always associated with bone strength, studies on vitamin D show that it is equally important for cell proliferation, differentiation and immune function. It is an important factor in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, certain types of cancers, obesity, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and even psychiatric diseases. Sufficient intake of Vitamin D, along with other supplements, is very crucial for pregnant women.

The quantity and quality of sunlight are both equal contributors to substantial vitamin D absorption. Due to higher levels of pollution, the UV light of 290–300-nm wavelength gets filtered out, leading to higher rates of deficiency in urban populations.

Though not very easy to get naturally as some other nutrients, your body naturally makes some vitamin D when you are in the sun, and when you consume foods like fish, egg yolks, and fortified yoghurt, mushrooms, fortified milk, fortified soya products, as well as supplements.

Deficiency in this vital vitamin occurs when your body doesn’t get or process adequate amounts of vitamin D. Other low vitamin D symptoms include muscle weakness and cramps, hair loss, and tiredness or fatigue. It is often not diagnosed right away, because it either produces no symptoms, or its symptoms overlap with many other health conditions. When symptoms show up, an orthopaedic doctor may recommend a bone density test, among other things, to identify the root cause.

The good news is that vitamin D deficiency is relatively easy to treat with supplements, once your healthcare provider identifies it.

What are the signs and symptoms of vitamin D deficiency?

Signs and symptoms in adults include:

  • Fatigue and Tiredness
  • Muscle Pain and Weakness
  • Muscle aches or muscle cramps
  • Mood changes, like depression
  • Bone Fractures and Osteoporosis
  • Hair Loss
  • Eczema
  • Gum Disease and Tooth Loss
  • UTIs, Incontinence
  • Sleep problems

Vitamin D deficiency in pregnant women has been found to be associated with an increased risk of pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes mellitus, preterm birth, and other tissue-specific conditions.

Severe lack of vitamin D in children causes rickets. Symptoms of rickets include:

  • Incorrect growth patterns due to bowed or bent bones
  • Muscle weakness
  • Bone pain
  • Deformities in joints (This is very rare.)
  • Children with a mild vitamin deficiency may just have weak, sore and/or painful muscles.

The best way to improve vitamin D levels is consuming nutrient-rich foods, taking early morning walks, or sitting in the morning sun in order to expose your skin and absorbing this essential nutrient.

Simultaneously, it is always good to speak to your general physician about measures to improve your vitamin D, through foods and supplements.

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Vitamin D Deficiency: Signs and Symptoms

Vitamin D Deficiency: Signs and Symptoms

January 1, 1970

Get some early morning Sun! It’s good for your bones!”. ...

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