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Is vegetarian diet good for you?

I have a question that I always wanted to ask.  I have been a strict vegetarian for a about 6 years.  I stopped eating any meet or fish, and eggs.  I did buy some vegetarian cheese sometimes.
After I have been on this diet, I noticed that my energy levels dropped significantly.
For about the same time ( 6 years) I have been running long distances while being on this diet. I started running 3-5 km a day, building up to 14 km a day. I was going running every day, shine or rain.
My diet was very simple: vegetables, bread, rice (sometimes, lots of soya (!) products and loads of chocolate.  Cholocate propbably played important part in my sport - it allowed me to cover long distances.
Then suddenly this April everything changed. I had food poisoning, 4 days after it my whole body went numb, then I got extrasystoles, my heart is now beating very fast and I feel very weak and old (I am 32).
Last week I started eating fish - a bit every day.
Here are my questions:
1. How long would it take to see the benefits of my new fish diet?
2. Are vegetarians relly very sick people?
3. Can poor diet (like mine) and loads of stress make the body feel weak? The problem with me now, is that I cannot simply walk - my pulse goes around 100 - 120 beats per minute.

Thank you very much for your answer.
I am a Russian lady living in New Zealand.  This is where all my problems have begun........  :(
12 Responses
Avatar universal
A vegittarian diet can certianly cause a lot of health problems if you do not use supplements to get B-vitamins and certain trace minerals.

Also soy can be very damaging to the body according to some new studies. If you have political or ethical reasons for not eating meat then I would suggest going the vitamin route and would encourage you to eat organic dairy products from farms which are freerange if this would make you feel better.

If you don't eat animal products for health issues there are many organic meta products out there which are free of antibiotics, growth hormones etc.

For some more info go to www.mercola.com to get some better diet tips.

If you are concerned about your heart, try posting in the heart forum or see your doctor.
Avatar universal
Lana, I am so sorry to hear of your condition.  That must feel very scary!  I was not familiar with the condition of "extrasystoles," but researched it and understand how frightening it must be.  Please be very kind to yourself through your recovery (and always).  It is important to treat yourself with compassion.

As for your health/nutrition issues:  Please go to WIKIPEDIA.COM and type in EXTRASYSTOLES.  They suggest that hydration and plenty of calcium/magnesium/potassium are key in recovering from PVCs and the like.  They also suggest AVOIDING CHOCOLATE, which I noticed was a favorite of yours.  Apparently, it might serve as a trigger for certain heart conditions.

I have been vegetarian for nearly 11 years; for 7 of those years, I was a strict vegan---and an avid runner.  After about 2 years of being a runner & a vegan, I was struck with a terrible illness that remains a mystery.  I was hospitalized for severe dehydration, after vomiting (etc) for several hours.  No one knew what caused this.  I was in and out of consciousness, hallucinating and felt as if I were on the brink of death.  My recovery was slow, and I never quite felt the same after this strange and violent illness.

However, 2+ years ago (I am 34), I decided to incorporate dairy into my diet again.  I FELT BETTER IMMEDIATELY.  So, I hope that you feel the benefits of your fish addition very soon.  I am still vegetarian for ethical reasons, but I no longer advocate for others to become vegetarian.  I think it's quite possible we NEED an "eclectic" diet for optimal health.  My problem with animal consumption lies more in the treatment of animals when they're alive than with ingesting animal protein; hence, I would suggest that you begin incorporating some CLEAN meat from free-range sources, if you are able.  I completely understand how difficult that might be; I myself have not been able to do that yet.  If you CAN take in some meat, just say blessings of gratitude for it and you will probably find that helps you make peace with it.  (That's the Buddhist in me talking; I only suggest it if you are struggling with what feels like an ethical dilemma.)

If you can't do the meat thing, please make sure you are taking in plenty of WHEY PROTEIN (NOT SOY!!!!) SHAKES.  Please do some research on studies that have shown that too much soy consumption is damaging to the body.  

An average woman weighing about 125 lbs needs approximately 80 grams of protein every day.  You will find what feels right for you; that's just a general guideline.  

As for exercise, I now walk 3-5 days a week for about 45minutes, and work out on the stair-stepper 3-5 days a week for about 20-30 minutes.  I also do some yoga/stretching every day.  This is much more reasonable for my body, much less demanding and harsh.  I miss running, but my body is clearly happy I changed the exercise routine---and I'm still in good shape. When you are able, please incorporate exercise gently.  You may want to find a way to make peace with not running anymore.

So, my lay-person's suggestions are:

*Be compassionate with yourself during this time!
*  Take in plenty of hydration; I hate to say it, but GATORADE is very helpful
*  Take in plenty of CALCIUM, MAGNESIUM AND POTASSIUM
*  Avoid chocolate and caffeine in large quantities (I would suggest allowing yourself  some chocolate treats, though, if you like them so much.  Just be mindful and aware of what your body is telling you)
* Take in plenty of NON-SOY protein (preferably WHEY)
*  Keep doing what you're doing...asking questions and discovering possible "solutions"

Of course, you need to check with your own body, your own instincts and your own trusted physician before getting into any of the food/vitamin suggestions.  In the meantime, know that there are people in the world (including yourself!) who want you to be healthy and strong.  

Wishing you many blessings and recovered health,

~Michelle S.
Denver, Colorado (USA)
Avatar universal
ANY diet can be extremely unhealthy for you and make you ill if it is unbalanced and (no offence) it sounds as if your diet was very unbalanced - and not simply because you were veggie. If you are vegetarian or vegan then it's important to get a wide range of protein, calcium, iron, vitamins etc from a wide range of sources (just as it is for an omni too) - quinoa, fruit, veg, leafy greens, nuts, seeds (linseed in particular for omega oils), pulses, dried fruit, grains, sea veg and B12 fortified cereals and convenience foods will provide you with all the essential nutrients you need.

It's a myth that vegetarians need to take multi-vitamins to remain healthy, in fact as a group, they have lower overall mortality rates and suffer up to 40% LESS instances of serious cancers.

I've been vegetarian for 17 years and vegan for the last 6 of those and my health actually improved after turning vegan - I no longer suffer from terrible period pains or regular colds like I used to. I never take vitamins but get all my nutrients from a varied diet.

There are lots of reliable sources of nutritional information online (try the Vegetarian Society website for example). I'm a moderator on a veggie/vegan forum at veganpath.com, if you have any questions then please feel free to talk to the other members there as there is a vegan doctor and several nurses who would be happy to put your mind at rest and answer any questions about health and nutrition you might have :)
Avatar universal
Here are a few websites which you might find useful:

http://www.vegsoc.org/health/

http://www.vegetariannutrition.net/articles.htm

http://www.veganpath.com/martindeporres

http://www.vegetarian-nutrition.info/


I'm sorry if I sounded a bit nippy in my last post, I'm genuinely trying to be helpful. I just find it frustrating that veggie and vegan diets are still very much misunderstood and that the majority of people think that it's unhealthy, when really, nothing could be further from the truth.

Lots of people seem to turn 'veggie' by simply avoiding meat and fish, but not learning which plant foods they should be eating to get all their nutrients from. No wonder these people get sick if they think they can get all their vitamins from a frozen pizza! :D

In answer to your question, yes, a vegetarian diet is VERY healthy, but (as with any diet) you need to make it as varied as possible and to learn what foods contain the nutrients you need. You should be able to get everything you need in abundance without ever needing to use multi-vitamins.


Avatar universal
Ive been a vegetarian for 40 years; I became a vegetarian for ethical reasons. For most of the time I have been an ova-lacto vegetarian but my milk consumption has decreased over the years due to increasing intolerance. I agree with those who say you have to be careful to eat a well-balanced diet.
Avatar universal
I agree with the post about the diest not being unhealthy for you.  I am a vegan and I am in the best shape of my life.  You just have to make sure that you are getting enough of your legumes, grains, fruits and veggies.  Soy is not harmful to you.  The part that is harmful is the GMO enhanced.  The kind that I like the most is Nasoya and it is also organic.  This would be the kind that I would recommend.  Also if you eat the veggie cheeses you have to be careful because some of them contain milk.  Since they do if you are a vegan and have been or sometime and you ingest milk it could make you really sick especially if it is mixed with soy.  Also you can make you own cheeses if you have to have them that much and they will be healthier since they are made of seeds or nuts.  YOu also have to make sure that the chocolate, caffeine and any other sodas are out.  Refined sugars and any flours that are not whole grain.  That is the important part of the diet is the whole grains with no refined sugars.  YOu can use Agave instead of sugar and it is natural for a cactus.  Hopes this helps.
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