10 Things to Remember When You Go on a Vegetarian Diet to Stay Healthy
A vegetarian diet means that your body won’t be receiving some very vital vitamins, proteins, and minerals that it would usually get from meat. The human body requires these essentials to function properly so if you’re already following a vegetarian diet or if you’re considering it, it’s necessary to take dietary supplements in order to avoid any vitamin deficiencies.
Here at Bright Side, we did some research to help you make sure you get all the nutrients you need on a daily basis to keep your body healthy and happy!
1. Getting macronutrients
Include a good amount of fat in your diet:
Fats help with the absorption of the “fat-soluble” vitamins — vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin K. These fats are the building blocks of important substances in the body and they are essential to cell reproduction. They help in maintaining a regular heartbeat, providing an anti-inflammatory function, and regulating cholesterol.
- The daily intake of these fats should be between 30% to 33%. Try to eat unsaturated fats that are commonly found in nuts, seeds, and fruits.
- One-third of your fat intake should be from monounsaturated fats, which are found in olive oil, coconut oil, grape seed oil, almond oil, and hemp oil.
- One-third of your other fat intake should be taken from polyunsaturated fats such as walnuts, granola, sunflower seeds, avocado, and oil.
2. Omega-3 & Omega-6 Fatty Acids
Include a generous amount of fatty acids:
An adequate intake of Omega may prevent and control a number of inflammatory conditions such as heart disease, arthritis, muscular degeneration, and autoimmune dysfunction such as arthritis, eczema, and psoriasis.
- If you eat fish or lactose products and eggs on a regular basis, then you get enough fatty acids in your diet and you do not need any vegetarian supplements.
- However, if you are completely vegan, then you’ll need a greater variety of veggies and nuts in order to ensure that you are consuming enough fatty acids. For example, you should eat more leafy greens, walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and flaxseed oil. If you are still concerned about your diet, then you should take a vitamin supplement.
3. Balance your veggies and grains for protein.
There is a common misconception that people on a plant-based diet do not get enough protein in their diet. Proteins are made up of amino acids which cannot be synthesized by the body and must be obtained from food.
- Amino acids are found in meat, dairy products, and eggs, as well as many plant-based foods, such as quinoa, tofu, broccoli, brown rice, beans, hummus, and chickpeas.
- Generally, you should consume about 0.41 g of protein for every lb of your body weight.
4. Get your B-12.
The B12 vitamin is a water-soluble vitamin from the vitamin B family and it plays a key role in the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system and also in the formation of blood and DNA.
- Getting the required dose of the B12 vitamin can be a serious problem for vegetarians since it is only found in animal products.
- It is the only vitamin that should be taken as a dietary supplement by vegetarians.
- In addition, some foods like soy milk, cereal, nutritional yeast and meat substitutes are fortified with B12.
5. Get enough vitamin D.
Vitamin D plays an important role in bone and muscle health and helps both your immune and your nervous system function properly.
- For people who eat lactose and animal products, they can get enough vitamin D from milk, cheese, eggs, and yogurt.
- For people who strictly stick to a plant-based diet, they can get enough vitamin D from mushrooms, orange juice, soy milk, cereal, soy yogurt, and any plant-based foods that are fortified with vitamin D.
6. Add some extra salt.
Iodine, which is usually found in fish, is a component in thyroid hormones which help regulate the body’s metabolism and the growth and function of key organs.
Due to the fact that vegetarians might not consume enough iodine on a daily basis, they can suffer from iodine deficiency, which can result in a goiter. Foods like soybeans, cruciferous vegetables, and sweet potatoes can cause goiter. In order to avoid an iodine deficiency, just add a 1/4 tsp a day of iodised sea salt in your food.
7. Get enough iron and vitamin C.
Iron is an essential nutrient. It is a component of hemoglobin in red blood cells that distribute oxygen throughout the body. And myoglobin is found in muscles and tissues.
Vegetarians need almost twice the daily recommended amount of iron compared with non-vegetarians. Iron from plant-based foods is not absorbed as well by our bodies as from animal products. It is recommended to eat a lot of leafy greens accompanied by foods that are rich in vitamin C (such as oranges) to help your body absorb the iron.
8. Include a good amount of calcium in your diet.
Calcium is most commonly found in meat and dairy products. The calcium that is fortified in soy and rice beverages, as well as a lot of juices, oat drinks, and cereals is very similar to the one that is present in cow’s milk. If you follow a diet where you do not consume any animal products such as dairy milk, you can get the required amount of calcium this way:
- When buying any of the products mentioned above, make sure to check labels for fortified calcium and notice the quantity of it.
- If you believe you do not include enough calcium in your diet, check for calcium supplements to avoid calcium deficiency, otherwise called hypocalcemia, which can cause a series of health issues, such as kidney failure, muscle spasms, and seizures.
- In addition, green leafy vegetables are some basic calcium sources.
Zinc is an essential mineral that plays a huge role in immune function, protein synthesis, wound healing, and cell division.
- Vegetarians may not consume enough zinc on a daily basis due to the fact that it’s mostly found in meat. Even though zinc deficiency is not common, it can affect the skin, the brain, and the central nervous system, the immune system, and the reproductive system.
- In order to increase the quantity of zinc in your diet, soak your seeds, beans, or grains in water before cooking them. This will lower the levels of phytates that bind zinc and inhibit its absorption.
- Vegetarians sometimes require as much as 50% more of the RDA for zinc than non-vegetarians.
10. Whole grains for complex carbohydrates.
All the food we eat is made up of 3 major nutrients: carbohydrates, protein, and fat.
Carbohydrates, on a molecular level, are made up of short or long chains of carbons. The length and shape of the carbon chain determine the type of carbohydrate. There are 2 types of carbohydrates:
- Simple Carbohydrates: They are the smallest and simplest type of carbohydrates, such as sugar. These simple carbs are quickly absorbed in the small intestine which results in a spike in your blood sugar and a boost of energy after consuming them. White flour, white rice, and foods made with added sugar all contain small molecules of glucose that are easy to digest, so they enter the bloodstream quickly and it can lead to weight gain.
- Complex Carbohydrates: This group includes starches and fiber that are found in many foods such as potatoes, oats, cereals, breads, etc. Starches are more complex and they take longer for the body to break them down and fiber is not digested. However, it adds other benefits to our health such as gut motility and it gives energy to the intestinal bacteria.
Avoid too many simple carbohydrates because this can result in heart disease or a lot of weight gain. Instead, replace them with whole fruits such as blueberries, grapes, and apples and starchy vegetables such as potatoes, corn, and peas.
It’s critical to remember that no matter what your diet looks like, it needs to fit your body’s needs. Always try to do some additional research to get all the nutrients from the foods that you consume.
Have you ever thought of becoming a vegetarian or a vegan? What are your thoughts on vegetarian or vegan diets? Share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments!