Every person who chooses a vegetarian way of life may has his/her own reasons. It can depend on religious convictions, socioeconomic status, beliefs that animals rights as important as human rights or attempts to lead more healthy and environmentally friendly lifestyle.
Due to lack of understanding there are many misconceptions about various vegetarian groups. Some people may think that if one does not consume meat, one is automatically a vegetarian. However, it is important to remember that there are different groups of vegetarians that are classified depending on type of accepted foods. Some of the vegetarian groups are vegan, lacto ovo, lacto, ovo, Pescitarian, partial,pesco vegetarian,and pollo vegetarian.
Vegans do not consume any meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, and any animal products such as gelatin. This vegetarian group is the most restrictive in terms of allowed food. People who follow lacto-ovo diet tend not to eat any meat, poultry or fish. However they usually eat eggs and dairy products such as cheese, milk, and yogurt.
Followers of lacto diet do not eat meat, poultry, fish or eggs. They accept dairy products.
People who choose to adhere to ovo diet do not eat meat, poultry, fish or dairy products, but they approve of eating eggs.Partial vegetarians do not eat any kind of meat such as beef, pork etc,but they eat fish and poultry.
Pesco-vegetarians and pescatarians eat fish, but they refuse to eat any poultry or meat.
Pollo vegetarians eat poultry such as chicken, duck, and turkey.
Being vegetarian can come with a price if one does not pay careful attention to ensure that the body receives all necessary vitamins, proteins, and minerals that are vital for daily functioning and bodily well being. Vegetarians who do not consume enough necessary nutrients can put themselves in risk of anemia and malnutrition. That is why clear understanding of how each type of nutrient affects one’s body is extremely important.
Proteins are made up of amino acids and are vital in building muscle and repairing injured tissue. Amino acids are linked to each other to create a chain that forms a polypeptide. Amino acids essentially are building blocks of proteins. Functions of proteins depend on shape of proteins. Proteins play an important role in various physiological processes and are used in antibodies, hormones , and enzymes. If the event of protein’s shape distortion, the function of the affected protein becomes compromised.proteins play important role in catalyzing chemical reactions,they synthesize and repair DNA strands, transport various nutrients and materials across the cell membrane; proteins are able to send and receive chemical messages; they also provide structural support to cellular structures. Recommend daily intake of protein is anywhere from 10 to 46 grams depending on the age. Lacto-ovo vegetarians get the necessary amount of protein due to consumption of dairy and eggs that are high in protein.
Animal vs plant protein
Animal proteins differ significantly from plant proteins. Only animal proteins have all the essential amino acids necessary for normal function of human body. Plant proteins are significantly lower in energy and have high amounts of fiber, water, and carbohydrates. They are also low in methionine, tryptophan, lysine, and isoleucine.
Enzymes and hormones.
Enzymes are proteins with a very specific function. They serve as catalysts in various chemical reactions such as digestion and biosynthesis processes and metabolism inside of body cells. Without enzymes most physiological processes would slowdown and stop, and life as we know it would seize. Enzyme function is highly dependent on the shape of the enzyme. Enzymes act on substrates. They involve substrates in chemical reactions and form an enzyme-substrate complex.Depending on their action with substraits enzymes are divided into anabolic and catabolic. Anabolic enzymes use substrates to build more complex substances where as catabolic enzymes break down their substrates. Hormones are proteins that are able to send specific signals to help in regulating various physiological processes. Hormones are secreted my endocrine organs of the body and regulate growth, reproduction, and tissue development. The example of lipid steroids are estrogen and testosterone.
Amino Acids, Essential, Nonessential, Conditional
Amino acids are protein building blocks. They are made of an amino group or carboxyl group and an R group. Amino acids that attach to one another in a form of a chain, form a polypeptide. There are 20 amino acids that occur naturally, as well as naturally occurring carboxylic acid groups. These amino acids are simple monomers and serve as parts to makeup proteins. Each amino acid consists of a central asymmetric carbon, a hydrogen atom, and a side chain (R group).
Each human body has ten essential amino acids that can be obtained from dietary sources. Interestingly,essential amino acids can not be synthesized by the body. Some examples of essential amino acids are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. Human body is capable of synthesizing
nonessential amino acids which are Alanine, Asparagine, Aspartic acid, and Glutamic acid.
Conditional amino acids are not essential for normal daily function but they become highly necessary when the body is stressed or battling an illness . The conditional amino acids are Arginine, Cysteine, Glutamine, Tyrosine, Glycine, Ornithine, Proline, serine.
Iron is a mineral that human body uses for production of blood. Almost 70 percent of Iron in human body is used for production of hemoglobin in red blood cells. Hemoglobin is essential for oxygen transport to every organ an tissue in the body. About 6% of Iron in the body is used in proteins, and 25% of all Iron is used as ferritin that is used as a protein in metabolism processes of the body is part of proteins. Iron helps to transport oxygen to muscles, it is vital for growth and development, function of cells and cell synthesis. Iron plays an important role in supporting metabolism.
Intake and food
The body of a male adult stores about 1,000 mg of iron. The body of a female adult stores 300 mg of iron. When the intake of iron is decreased, it leads to iron deficiency anemia. The most common cause of iron deficiency is hemorrhage or any other type of blood loss such as in blood donation. Blood donors tend to loose 200-250 mg of iron.
Even though vegetarians eat the same amount of iron as people who consume meat, their bodies do not absorb iron as well as bodies of meat eaters. Iron that is found in meat is easier absorbed than the iron from vegetable sources.. The daily intake of iron ranges from 11.5 mg to 20.5 mg. It is helpful to add orange juice to one’s diet as vitamin C that is found in orange juice helps to absorb dietary Iron more readily. Usage of iron supplements can assist in reaching the daily requirement of iron. Practice of cooking meals in iron pots can add up 80% more iron to our bodies. Certain foods have higher amount of iron and are recommending to include in daily diet. Some examples are Seafood
Greens, all kinds
Another name for Vitamin C is L-ascorbic acid. Vitamin C Is water-soluble and is naturally present in many foods. Human body is incapable to synthesize vitamin C. This vitamin is necessary for biosynthesis of collagen, L-carnitine, and some neurotransmitters. Vitamin C also plays role in protein metabolism and serves an essential antioxidant in the body. It helps to regenerate other antioxidants in the body. Vitamin C provides some protection against heart disease, helps to absorb iron acquired from dietary sources as in a form of a supplement, protects against scurvy, helps to decrease low density cholesterol and and total cholesterol, combats cancer causing free radicals,neutralizes harmful effects of nitrates.
Vitamin C intake
Lack of vitamin C intake can lead to scurvy. Scurvy is a rare disease that is caused by lack of vitamin C in a diet. It manifests as weakness, pain in limbs, spontaneous bleeding, edema, bleeding gums and eventual loss of teeth. Oral supplements of vitamin C are very beneficial and safe as human body can control vitamin C concentration in tissues and can get rid of excess via kidney route. Recommended daily intake of vitamin C is anywhere from 30 to 189 mg a day with almost 90% rate of absorption. Vitamin C concentrates in eyes, adrenal glands, brain and pituitary gland. Plasma, saliva and extracellular fluid has lowest concentration of vitamin C.
Dietary sources of Vitamin C are citrus fruits, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, kiwifruit, broccoli, strawberries, Brussels sprouts, and cantaloupe. It is recommended to consume five servings of fruits and vegetables a day to ensure intake of about 200 mg of vitamin C daily.
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that can be absorbed by the body from sun rays, food, and vitamin D supplements. Vitamin D is vital in assisting the body to absorb calcium from the gut. It is required for bone growth It is obtained from sun rays, food, and supplements. Lack of vitamin D in a diet will result in weak bones that lack in density and are prone to fractures. Combined supplements of calcium and vitamin D may help to prevent osteoporosis in older adults. Vitamin D assists in regulation of blood pressure, may help to prevent type 2 diabetes prevents depression, protects the body from inflammation, strengthens immune and neuromuscular function.The recommended daily intake of Vitamin D is 400IU to 800 IU depending on age. Salmon, tuna, mackerel, fish liver oils are the best sources of vitamin D.
Other sources of vitamin D with smaller concentration are cheese, and egg yolks.
Human body does not have means to store zinc which is an essential mineral for normal growth and development of adolescents,children, and pregnant women. Zinc is known Zinc is an essential mineral in certain foods. It supports normal growth and development during pregnancy, childhood, and adolescence. It is essential element for the sense of smell and taste, helps with wound healing and assists in clotting of blood, plays part in normalizing thyroid function,improves male fertility, vision, and cellular metabolism. It can be found in pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, cacao, cashews, yogurt, spinach, and mushrooms.
Vitamin B 12
Vitamin B12 a water-soluble vitamin that can be found in dairy and eggs. It is easily available as a dietary supplement. A stronger dose of vitamin B 12 can be bought with a prescription. Vitamin B12 can exist in several forms and also contains the mineral cobalt. Vitamin B12 assists In red blood cell formation, improves neurological function, and helps with DNA synthesis. Vitamin B12 is bound to food protein. When B12 reaches the stomach, hydrochloric acid and gastric protease prompts the separation of vitamin B12 from protein and promotes its release into the Gastrointestinal system where it gets subsequently absorbed for the use by cells of the body. Synthetic form of vitamin B 12 does not require hydrochloric acid for separation, it used by the body immediately. B 12 assists in DNA production, bone marrow regeneration, repair of lining in respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts, helps to maintain healthy nervous system, and prevents megaloblastic anemia. Lack of dietary vitamin B12 can lead to pernicious anemia. People who abuse alcohol are at risk for this type of anemia as their GI tract is compromised and they are not able to absorb Vitamin B 12.
Omega 3 fatty acids serve as a great anti-inflammatory but these acids can function only if GPR120 receptors are able to detect them. Omega-3 fatty acids play a number of important roles in human body. They support the function of cell receptors in cellular membranes and are extremely important in prevention of heart disease and stroke. Omega 3 fatty acids belong to the polyunsaturated fats family. Some of the essential fatty acids are EPA, DHA, and ALA. High concentration of DHA is found in the retina, brain, and sperm. Dietary sources of Omega 3 fatty acids are anchovies, tuna, mackerel, herring, salmon, trout, nuts and seeds. Omega 3 fatty acids lower triglyceride levels, help with joint pain, and depression. They help to slow down memory loss in persons with dementia and promote healthy development in infants.
Food and intake
ALA is can be found in certain plant oils, such as flaxseed, soybean, and canola. DHA and EPA are present in fish, fish and krill oils. However, they are not synthesized by fish, but rather by microalgae that gets consumed by phytoplankton that is later consumed by the fish. However, fish eggs have low EPA and DHA levels. Because human body is not able to convert ALA that is found in plant foods very efficiently, it is helpful to take algae supplements that can increase EPA and DHA levels. It is recommended to consume of 0.5 G to 1.6 G of omega 3 depending on age. Popular seafood such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines, contain high amounts of LC omega-3s and certain brands of eggs, yogurt, juices, milk, and soy beverages, are fortified with DHA.
Calcium is one of the most abundant minerals in human body. This mineral is necessary for contraction and dilation of veins and arteries, healthy muscle function, and nerve impulse transmission. It assists in sending intracellular signals and helps with secretion of hormones. Interestingly enough, only 1% of total body calcium is needed to support these critical metabolic functions.
Calcium is stored I in the bones is used as a reserve to be released into the body in the time of deficiency. Bones and teeth are comprised 99% of calcium. When parathyroid gland senses that serum calcium is decreased, it releases parathyroid hormone that forces bones to release calcium and phosphorus they have been storing. In turn, kidneys are stimulated to excrete phosphorus and to reabsorb calcium. Foods that are high in calcium are almonds, oranges,broccoli, sardines, kale, sesame seeds, and Chinese cabbage.
Vegetarian diets can prove advantageous as they can be high in dietary fiber, magnesium, folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin E, iron, and lower in saturated fat, and cholesterol. Even though vegetarian diets carry certain health benefits, there are concerns about lower then needed protein intake, as well as vitamin D, Vitamin B12, Iron,and Zinc deficiencies. Lack of dietary intake of Omega 3 fatty acids is an important disadvantage of many vegetarian diets. However, it is vital for any person, vegetarian or not, to eat five daily servings of fruits and vegetables for optimal health. Various factors can influence one’s dietary intake, including, but not limited to financial situation, culture, upbringing, food availability or gender differences.
Male diet vs female diet
Food likes and dislikes or affinity to healthy eating largely develops during adolescent years. Eating habits may be influenced by culture, gender, upbringing, religion, and socioeconomic status. During adolescence people tend to be calorie conscious and more concerned with the way their bodies look. Females tend to consume more fruit then males. Raw vegetables and salads are consumed by both genders, with women eating slightly more salads than men. Men prefer to eat foods high in proteins in order to look more muscular as it promotes muscle growth and repair. Standards for women differ as they are considered more attractive when they look thinner and lower in weight. These cultural standards largely tend to affect different preferences in food between sexes.
Satisfaction with their image reflects in eating behaviors of women. Even though women are more prone to food cravings, they tend to eat healthier since adolescence, consuming higher amounts of fruit and vegetables which helps them to meet their nutritional needs. There is a strong correlation between how satisfied and comfortable a female with her own image and weight and eating fruits and vegetables. If a woman is satisfied with the way she looks, she will eat more fruit and vegetables. Men usually are not to that kind of behavior. Women are also more interested in consuming low calorie foods in order to maintain or loose weight.Eating adequate amounts of fruit and vegetables became a major part of female identity.
Men primarily control their weight with exercise rather than a diet. They diet only if needed for health reasons. Because of lack of nutritional knowledge and high consumption of fast food during adolescent years, men can be more overweight than women. Men enjoy eating red meats and animal fats and look at meat as a symbol of ?strength and virility. Men have more lean body mass due to large quantities of muscle, that is why they eat more as their energy requirements are higher. Muscles expand more energy,so to maintain muscle mass men have to eat higher amounts of protein and calories. The quality of food is important , but often determined by availability, culture, and financial resources.
Size causation and ethics
When people eat meat and other animal products, very often they do not think about the ethics of the food industry, about the animal itself, how it was treated, or about the size of the market.
According to Joel MacClellan’s size thesis size of the animal affects the moral considerations of consuming meat. According to his market thesis, ethical vegetarians should be concerned about size and complexity of casual chain.
Market size and ethical vegetarians
Certain percentage of the animal’s weight consists of bones, organs, and skin. These parts are used for various products such as clothing, furniture, and home décor. The demand on such products is high and the animal’s value increases substantially. It becomes very practical and profitable to kill an animal. Very often people look at the size of the animal to see if this animal can feel pain. Sometimes people have certain misconceptions and think that very small animals, like mollusks for example, do not feel pain compared to a human. Ethical vegetarians feel that if a person is buying meat, This person contributes to the animal’s suffering and is morally responsible for this animal’s demise. The goal of ethical vegetarians is to change the outlook on animals and meat eating buy creating an economic boycott. Freeganism is another form of ethical vegetarianism that protests animal mistreatment buy not buying anything. Their philosophy consists of looking for discarded food, growing food in public parks, and occupying abandoned buildings as a form of protest against food industry. They state that the consumer is morally responsible for the death and suffering of animals raised in poor conditions because the demand for animal products encourages the killing of animals.
Retailers such as Walmart and other grocery stores buy about one third of all produced meat. In USA sales of vegetarian foods are on steady increase since 1998. Vegetarian products is a multi billion dollar industry and includes foods like grains and ,vegetable products. Vegetarian food sales grow about 100 % every year. However, these numbers are based on meat replacement sales,rather then on vegetarian food.”Locavores,” are people who eat only locally produced food, aware of complex market structure and feel more responsibility for the effects their diet has on society and environment.
Mouth is the first step of digestive process, teeth chew the food and saliva starts breaking down simple carbohydrates in the oral cavity. The tongue helps to push the bolus of food into the throat. The epiglottis acts like a lid that closes opening to the windpipe while a person is swallowing food to ensure that the food travels down the esophagus into the stomach rather then ending up in lungs. Salivary glands in the mouth produce saliva that moisturizes food to ensure smooth passage down esophagus and helps to break down simple carbohydrates in the mouth. The action of swallowing triggers brain response that sends a signal to the esophageal muscles. Muscles of esophagus start contracting in a wave like motion sending food into the stomach. This process is called peristalsis. The stomach sphincter relaxes and allows the bolus of food to pass into the stomach. The same sphincter also ensures that food remains in the stomach and does not go back into the throat.
After the bolus of food enters into stomach, it starts is churning, hydrochloric acid and enzymes of the stomach starts breaking the food down so it can be emptied into the small intestine. The stomach wall is made of several layers. The outer layer is made connective tissue, middle layer is muscular and inner layer is made of mucous membrane .The stomach muscles contract and churn the contents of the stomach mixed with digestive enzymes until solid food becomes a smooth pulp. The hydrochloric acid is responsible for breaking down the food, then the digestive enzymes break down the proteins. Mucous layer of the stomach secretes special protective coating that covers the inside of the stomach and protects it from being digested by hydrochloric acid and enzymes.
The role of the pancreas is the production of digestive enzymes that are responsible for breaking down fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. The pancreatic enzymes reach the small intestine through special ducts. One of the functions of the liver is to produce special substance, called bile that helps to digest fats and vitamins. As liver produces bile, it gets stored in gallbladder.
Various enzymes participate in the process of digestion. They break down larger food molecules down into small particles that are so tiny that they are able to be diffused through a cell membrane in order to be used by the cell. These enzymes are amylase, which initiates the digestion carbohydrates in the mouth and small intestine; pepsin, which is responsible for the digestion of proteins in the stomach; lipase, which helps to emulsify fats in the small intestine; and trypsin, which promotes the further digestion of proteins in the small intestine.
Small intestine and large intestine
The small intestine secretes various digestive juices mixed with bile and pancreatic enzymes. Breakdown of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates is completed in small intestine. The walls of the small intestine are primarily responsible for absorbing most of the water and digestive nutrients and sending it directly into bloodstream. Some of the bacteria produced by the small intestine excretes enzymes necessary to digest carbohydrates.
As water gets absorbed from liquid stool by the walls of large intestine, liquid stool solidifies. Bacteria in large intestine breaks down the rest of the nutrients and produce vitamin K. The stool accumulates in rectum and evacuates when sphincters open.
Heart disease and obesity
According to research vegetarians have less chances of dying from heart disease because they consume many plant foods that are helpful in preventing heart disease. Foods like simple carbohydrates and starches increase risk of heart disease as they cause spikes in blood glucose levels. Whole grains, nuts and legumes are digested more slowly as have the low glycemic index because of high fiber content. Foods with low glycemic content tend to keep blood sugar levels steady. Foods that contain soluble fiber and many nuts such as walnuts reduce bad cholesterol levels.
One of the most pressing health problems in United States is obesity. Interestingly enough, scientists claim that vegetarians can loose weight only with diet and no exercise at all. Vegans tend to have more magnesium, potassium, iron, riboflavin, folate, and vitamins in their diet. They are usually slimmer than meat eaters mainly because they eat less fat and burn more calories after meals. Vegetarians have significantly lower BMIs and lower rates of obesity in children.
Statistically vegetarians have a lower incidence of various forms of cancer as they consume foods with low levels of carcinogens. Usually the risk of colon cancer decreases significantly when people eliminate red meat from their diet. Processed meats such as cold cuts, bacon, hot dogs and sausage have high levels of carcinogens and increase risk of colon cancer. According to Cancer.org, it is proven that daily intake of 50 grams of processed meats can increase the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%. An example of 50 grams of processed meats is 4 strips of bacon and one hot dog. People that eat fish have lower incidences of diseases than meat eaters.
Bone health and dental health
It is very important to maintain good dental health. Deficiencies in Vitamin D, calcium, Vitamin C, Vitamin B12, B3, B2, and Iron can jeopardize the integrity of dentin, which is a protein that ensures that teeth remain strong and healthy. Lack of vitamin d and calcium will ensure tooth decay and gum disease. Lack of iron will produce the inflammation and sores on the tongue.inadequate intake of Vitamin B12, B2, and B3 causes bad breath, canker sores and mouth sores. Lack of vitamin C can cause bleeding gums and loose teeth.
Lacto-ovo vegetarians have the same intake of calcium as people that consume meat. Vegans tend to consume 75 % less calcium daily than recommended, as a result they usually have weak bones and high rate of fractures.oxalate high foods such as spinach and Swiss chard can make the absorption of the calcium by gastrointestinal system more difficult. These foods have high potassium and magnesium levels which can reduce the acidity of blood and lower excretion of calcium by renal and urinary system.
Type 2 diabetes
According to research plant based diet reduces risk for type 2 diabetes as plants contain high amounts of fiber that is very effective in lowering blood glucose. There is a strong evidence that consumption of red meat and processed meats significantly increases risk of developing type 2 diabetes. People who adhere to vegetarian diet reduce their risk of developing diabetes by 50 %. Both vegetarian and meat eating diets have advantages as well as disadvantages. One has to educate oneself in order to make an educated choice regarding nutrition and health.