Get healthier with a planned diet

Get healthier with a planned diet

Nutritionists guide people to eat more greens to live healthier and avoid diseases

Dr Lily Mueller Valkenberg. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: It’s spinach that gave Popeye the sailorman superhuman strength — not a juicy steak.

The merits of a vegetarian diet are numerous, according to Dr Rita Martins, dietician at Mediclinic Welcare Hospital.

She said: “Vegetarian diets tend to be lower in cholesterol and saturated fat than a non-vegetarian diet, and they are high in vitamins C and E, dietary fibre, folic acid, minerals like potassium and magnesium and phytochemicals such as carotenoids and flavonoids. As a positive impact on health, vegetarian diets are expected to lower total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, lower risk for hypertension and diabetes type 2 and vegetarians tend to have lower body mass index; all of these benefits are linked to longevity and a reduced risk for heart diseases and other any disease like cancer.”

Lily Mueller Valkenberg, nutrition coach at the Dubai Herbal and Treatment Centre, said:

She said: “Fruits and vegetables are alkalizing for the body. Disease thrives in an acidic environment so eating lots of fruits and vegetables certainly does your body a lot of good. If done properly, adopting a vegetarian diet may help cut out many processed foods, as non-organic meat, poultry and fish products can be full of growth hormones, antibiotics and possibly other chemicals. Cutting these out would benefit one’s health.”

However, she advised a balanced intake, to ensure the body is receiving enough nutrition.

“People on a vegetarian diet tend to eat too many grains and other carbohydrates, such as bread, rice and baked goods, which can cause many health problems. Poorly planned vegetarian meals can be restrictive and may be low in B12, calcium, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin D, iron, zinc and iodine. Other health problems may occur due to these deficiencies.”

It’s why proper meal plans are necessary for vegetarians.

For instance, creatine, a nitrogenous organic acid that supplies energy in the body, is stored in muscle, and the only way one can get it through diet is by eating animal meat. This leaves vegetarians out in the cold.

Taking supplements can offset the deficiency.

Dr Martins said: “Lacto vegetarians and lacto-ovo vegetarians can get protein, calcium, vitamin B12 from dairy products and eggs. But vegans have to take supplements – especially of iron, vitamin B12 and omega 3, to meet their requirements.”

Valkenberg added: “Many vegetarians are not planning their meals well enough and suffer from digestive issues or other health problems. For them, it might be good idea to replace some of the carbohydrates with meat/fish based products. I would not recommend a vegetarian diet for children who still have a lot of growing to do, as they would benefit from the nutrients in good quality animal protein.”

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