Currently, according to the Daily Mail, there are more than 1.2 million vegetarians in the United Kingdom. They often oppose attempts to convince them of the benefits of eating meat. People ignore consequences warnings by following their idealized version of a healthy diet. Ten years ago, says nutritionist Magdalena Vzzelaki, no one asked her what diet to follow. Today, the doctor is constantly asked such questions: “Should I try a keto diet or better or paleo-nutrition?” Meanwhile, Vszelaki is convinced, there is no such principle of nutrition that would be ideal for absolutely everyone.
“I tell them that there are common principles for everyone: not too much sugar, caffeine or processed foods. But not every diet is suitable for a particular person. And I never recommend avoiding meat. I do not consider vegetarianism a healthy choice. After all, this means giving up not only meat, but also fish, eggs, dairy products and even honey, ”she explained.
Refusing animal products, she continues, women experience a shortage of vital nutrients. A recent report, based on data from the British National Diet Research, showed that on average, women between the ages of 20 and 30 do not get enough of seven of the eight essential minerals for health. Men have a slightly better picture - they lack five. According to the nutritionist, this is due to the fact that they are much less likely than women to refuse meat.
The consequences of refusing meat
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Over the past decade, Vzzelaki examined about two thousand patients and noticed a long-term improvement in well-being in only a small part of them. As a rule, after a complete or partial rejection of animal products, girls feel great for a year or two. Then the health condition worsens. Many experience constant fatigue, frequent illnesses, and depression. Some begin hair loss and weight gain, often develop problems with the thyroid gland.
“I interviewed about 2.8 thousand women vegetarian about their experience of refusing meat. About 70% of those who were vegan or vegetarian for more than two years admitted that during this time their health did not change or worsened. Many said that they felt great during the first year, then the situation changed dramatically, ”the nutritionist added.
She explained that most women switched to such a regime due to the fact that they really wanted to comply with society’s ideas about “healthy” nutrition and ignored the needs of their body. But as soon as they added even a small amount of animal proteins to their diet, their health improved markedly.
“Take my friend Alex Jamison, a longtime vegan, organic food chef and respected health expert. Much to the chagrin of his followers, after several years of inexplicably ill health, he felt better by returning a small amount of animal protein to food, ”she said.
Why health improves first
The reason vegetarianism supposedly works at first is very simple. Switching to a "healthy diet", people refuse not only animal products, but also semi-finished products. But often the situation changes, and they return to lemonade and chips. They also eat foods high in gluten, soy and corn, which can cause digestive problems.
“I am not saying that you need to eat bacon every day. But some vitamins and nutrients are very difficult to get from plant sources. For example, vegans consume very few vitamins A and D. The best sources of these vitamins, vital for hormonal balance, strong bones and good mental health, are fish, meat and liver. Vegetarians can get them from dairy products, but if a person has an allergy, or he just avoids them, then this is the way to vitamin deficiency, ”said Vzzelaki.
In addition, vegetarians are often deficient in vitamin B12 and zinc, which are vital for the immune system and bowel protection. Currently, most people are aware of the importance of omega-3 fatty acids for good brain function, cholesterol control, and radiant skin. Vegans get this compound from chia seeds and walnuts, as opposed to oily fish, which meat eaters rely on.
“But many people do not understand that these plant foods contain Omega-3 in a form that the body cannot easily process without two key nutrients: B12 and zinc. Simply put, their bodies cannot properly use the nutrients they eat, due to the lack of variety and animal products in their diet, ”the nutritionist concluded.
Not diet, but ethical standards
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The nutritionist and doctor of medical sciences Mikhail Ginsburg explained to 360 that the norms of veganism and vegetarianism are not so much nutritional as ethical. Adhering to such a diet, people, first of all, pursue the moral goal of “I’m not killing anyone”, and not physical recovery. At the same time, do not confuse vegetarianism and veganism - these are different food models. If in the first case, the body still receives animal protein, in the second - no. From this point of view, vegetarianism is less harmful to the body, as it is less scarce.
“The human body suffers from animal protein deficiency. This is especially pronounced in the child-teenage group and in pregnant or lactating women. Veganism can be harmful if a person has chronic diseases, he is susceptible to frequent domestic or industrial intoxications, when he increases the need for good nutrition, ”he said.
But in some age groups, the nutritionist noted, ovolacto-vegetarianism, on the contrary, may be useful. This principle of nutrition allows the consumption of not only products of plant origin, but also milk and eggs. It may be suitable for people over 50, whom doctors advise to reduce the amount of red meat in the diet. In addition, with vegetarianism, people adhere to a relatively rational regime, which is rarely high-calorie. Therefore, ovolacto-vegetarianism can be considered a healthy diet for the older generation. It would be even more useful if these people allowed themselves to eat sea fish.
“Healthy nutrition needs to be learned. When a person does not want to learn, he can be offered only simple restrictive models: “Do not eat anything that has eyes” or “Do not eat anything that runs, swims or flies.” And if a person is studying, then the list of restrictions can be more detailed and more justified, ”Ginzburg added.
Nutritionist Olga Perevalova told 360 that the point in the dispute, which is healthier: eat or refuse meat, has not yet been set. Centenarians are found on both the one and the other. But nutritionists around the world agree that vegetarianism is definitely contraindicated in children under five to seven years of age. There is a lot of protein in meat food, from which the body builds the musculoskeletal system, and the necessary vitamins, in particular B12, which is almost not synthesized by the body. It is important for them to eat fish and seafood, which contain iodine, phosphorus, iron, Omega-3, calcium, magnesium and so on.
“Vegetarianism is divided into five types. One of them is the rejection of meat and everything that is made of it. There are many scientific studies confirming that if there is a lot of fried meat, kebabs, not always of high quality, meat semi-finished products with carcinogens and “chemistry”, then this is not useful. But fresh meat without harmful additives and impurities is rather useful, ”the doctor explained.
Most Russian women suffer from anemia - that is, anemia due to their physiology. Therefore, it is better for them not to refuse meat - the main supplier of iron and vitamin B12, necessary for recovery after menstruation. In men, anemia is much less common.
“Information that the rejection of meat leads to weight loss is nothing more than a myth. Orthodox fasting about 250 days a year. But this only leads to weight gain, because people switch to carbohydrate foods: cereals, pasta, potatoes, use a lot of vegetable oil - that is, high-calorie foods. Long-term rejection of meat will lead to weight gain, ”Perevalova is convinced.
Modern doctors blame weight gain not on cholesterol or fat, but on carbohydrate foods: refined sugar in combination with vegetable oil. Half a glass of any oil is about 1000 calories, that is, half the daily energy expenditure for a middle-aged woman. Therefore, it is wiser to eat “lean”, lean, fresh meat than to refuse it.
“It is not recommended to refuse meat to people with gastrointestinal diseases, those who have a violation of the synthesis of vitamins B and B12, those who have suffered blood loss, including men. But the information that meat can contribute to the development of oncology is more or less true information. Therefore, if someone in the family suffered from such diseases, it is better to reduce the amount of meat in the diet. The same is recommended for citizens older than 50 years, ”the doctor concluded.
Whether or not to eat, that’s the question
Among women, a problem called "eating disorder" is very common. What is it? Two extremes can be included in the list of symptoms: overeating and a complete rejection of food in the name of a great goal - a slim figure. Moreover, the desire to achieve a certain standard often leads to mental disorders. A vivid example can be anorexia nervosa, when a girl has an obsession with achieving an ideal. There is nothing positive about long-term diets leading to the opposite result. A constantly abstaining organism rebels sharply and gets out of control. In this case, you can wait for bulimia and overeating.
There are times when a new problem arises from one problem. So, a long-term treatment of anorexia can pull bulimia nervosa, that is, when a person cannot control how much food to take. Such gluttony can alternate with long periods of fasting.
It is still difficult for psychologists to answer the question of why eating disorders occur. Unfortunately, in most cases, doctors and psychotherapists cannot cope with the task. The most common cause that causes the disorder is considered to be internal conflicts that a person cannot resolve on his own. From the outside, it looks like an unhealthy attitude to food.
Scientists have come to the conclusion that whatever the reasons were originally, the scenario is always the same. Everything is tied to the fact that the patient feels constant anxiety and is dissatisfied with his life or a specific situation. In parallel, these feelings are accompanied by boredom, anger, sadness or resentment. All this can be caused both by a specific event that traumatized the psyche, and by gradually accumulating stress. Time passes, and under these emotions a new worldview is born.
Later there is a strong desire to get rid of these feelings. A lot of people immediately resort to alcohol, slot machines, drugs, careless sex. Others, on the contrary, are completely devoted to work, too focus on cleaning the body. But a large percentage of women are looking for a way out in nutrition.
At first, no one notices the problem, because, on the one hand, everyone around is just doing things to lose weight and do not leave fitness clubs, and on the other, a lot of people do not leave McDonald's, buried in burgers and potatoes. But often the situation gets out of hand. The woman is confident that she is holding herself together. But in reality, she is only trying to keep her negative emotions, which led her to discomfort.
Control from temporary necessity develops into a constant companion for life. People suffering from anorexia confess that they enjoy thinking that they can control themselves. It gives them strength.
One girl admitted that she was pleased that she could starve as much as she wanted. After all, others are weak, but she feels strong. Starvation takes away too much energy from the body. And entering into this struggle, a woman feels herself a winner.
In bulimia situations, things are a little different. Women begin to feel guilty about excessive overeating. They reproach themselves for weakness and restraint. Self-flagellation, cursing, contempt are used. Patients say they can hold back next time. And when another failure occurs, depression and powerlessness come.
In the end, everything turns into a vicious circle. To combat negative emotions, women resort to food, a large amount of which causes a new explosion of negativity, which they again try to extinguish with food. Such hopelessness soon turns into a familiar state.
How to defeat eating disorder? A lot of research has been done, and attempts have already been made to fix the problems. But the truth is that these diseases are very difficult to cure. First of all, patients should have a strong desire to cope. And such people very often do not even realize that they have problems. You also need to find the reasons that caused these problems. If you can find the root of negative emotions, then the chances of defeating the disease are much greater. In the end, you need to create a new model of behavior that will help remove negative emotions without resorting to eating or refusing food.
Food should not turn into torture. It is a source of energy, positive emotions and a charge of vivacity. This is not only a physical need, but also a storehouse of health.
Where does the craving for food come from?
Today, the point of view that the body is able to signal itself, which it lacks for proper functioning, has become widespread. But is it really so? Recent studies show that the main reasons for craving for food are more likely psychological.
Dominated by reflexes
At the beginning of the 20th century, Russian professor Ivan Pavlov established that the body, in response to certain stimuli, can begin to anticipate the process of eating food. For example, a scientist rang a bell before each feeding of experimental dogs. Over time, this sound began to cause the secretion of gastric juice in animals. This applies to humans. For example, if during your favorite TV show you are used to eating popcorn, then your craving to eat this delicacy will occur every time you watch the program. Such behavior does not in any way reflect what your body actually needs.
Craving for sweets
You probably noticed how in the middle of the day you always want something sweet. However, on weekends, such a desire does not arise. A similar reaction occurs under the influence of certain external signals and factors, and not because your body is missing something.
One of the most common food addictions in the modern world is chocolate. Some say the craving for this product is due to its high phenylethylamine content.This molecule promotes the release of substances such as dopamine and serotonin. However, it has been proven that dairy products contain a higher concentration of these molecules. In addition, when we eat chocolate, enzymes break down phenylethylamine and most of it does not reach the end goal.
In women, an irresistible craving for chocolate can occur during critical days. It is believed that this product restores the level of iron in the body. However, leafy greens and red meat have a higher content of this trace element and will be much more beneficial. In addition, if the craving for chocolate caused a hormonal effect, then during menopause it should have stopped. But this does not happen. Therefore, most likely, the connection between PMS and the desire to eat chocolate is rather psychological.
How do stress and bad mood affect food intake?
According to clinical observations, negative mood and stress can cause uncontrolled consumption of harmful products and even cause food “binge”. Such behavior has nothing to do with the biological need for food or physical hunger. This behavior can most likely be attributed to a type of psychological disorder.
What causes uncontrolled food intake?
Many people confuse intuitive nutrition and cravings for junk food. A person may incorrectly perceive the needs for various food products. In this case, food is perceived as a way to improve mood, and not as a natural source of nutrients and vitamins. In this case, there is a psychological need to eat something harmful.
As scientific studies show, the bacteria that live in our intestines are capable of affecting our taste preferences. That is why we are replacing healthy food with harmful foods that do not give any benefit to our body. Intestinal bacteria are able to manipulate our eating behavior so that a person wants to consume what they need for normal functioning.
The various microbes that exist in our gut prefer different habitats, more or less acidic. All this affects the condition of our intestines. In addition, bacteria can affect our eating behavior, forcing us to eat those foods that they need to maintain their livelihoods. They are able to send signals through the vagus nerve to the brain about the feeling of hunger or lack of nutrients, and when they use the products they need, they contribute to the production of serotonin. They are also able to influence taste perception. However, this type of food can be harmful. Some types of bacteria can cause serious illness.
In order to normalize the bacterial situation in the intestines, healthy food is needed. With this kind of nutrition, you will want to eat right. But if you eat a large amount of complex carbohydrates and fiber, then most likely, an unhealthy microbiome will be cultivated in your intestines.
How to reduce cravings for harmful products?
Our environment is full of various signals. Photos, films, social networks - all these sources of information are trying to influence our behavior. If a person sees an advertisement for products with a lot of fats and sugars, he will want to eat them. This stimulates cravings for junk food. Therefore, if you decide to change your habits, you will have to completely eliminate the desired food from the diet. You have quite a difficult psychological work to overcome your own cravings, change your eating habits. As you switch to a healthy diet, you will less and less want to eat something harmful.
In the end, I would like to note that each of us likes to eat, and everyone has their own special passions. There is nothing wrong with that, but you need to control yourself. Otherwise, you can harm your health.