What is a vegan diet?  |  Health

What is a vegan diet? | Health



Vegetarianism is a diet in which animal-based foods are not consumed in limited amounts or at all, and instead, vegetable-based foods are consumed. Veganism is a definition made for people who only consume plant foods. Here’s everything you need to know about vegetarian and vegan diets.

Nutritionist and Dietician Gizem Gök lists the positive and negative effects of vegetarian diet and the things that vegan diets should pay attention to;

  • Since it is a diet rich in fiber, it positively affects the health of the digestive system.
  • It is rich in antioxidants.
  • Since it is a diet based on vegetables and fruits, vitamin and mineral intake is provided at a high level.
  • It protects heart health as it does not intake of saturated fat and cholesterol.
  • There is less risk of developing kidney stones and gallstones.
  • It helps to lose weight.
  • It is protective against some types of cancer.
  • It reduces insulin resistance.
  • Depending on the B12 deficiency; There may be pernicious anemia, growth retardation, depression, and memory problems.
  • Due to insufficient protein intake, amino acids may be deficient and muscle loss may occur.
  • Phytic acid found in high levels in cereal group foods, legumes and other herbal products; May interfere with the absorption of calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc.
  • In the long term, due to the decrease of these minerals, muscle and bone pain and anemia may be observed.
  • Recent studies have revealed that allergies are 2 times more common in people with this type of diet.
  • Fatty acids such as EPA, DHA and alpha linoleic acid are very important for vegetarians. These acids, which cannot be synthesized by the body, play an active role in the development of nerve tissues, brain, eye health and fulfillment of cardiovascular functions. Insufficient intake of Omega 3 fatty acids cause visual and learning disorders due to the decrease in DHA amount in the brain. In addition, some skin diseases such as dry skin, asthma, arthritis, regression in growth, diabetes and some types of cancer, as well as many psychological diseases can occur. EPA and DHA are found in foods of animal origin, especially cold water fish. Alpha linoleic acid, which can be found in plant sources, which is the precursor of omega 3 fatty acids, is converted into EPA and DHA fatty acids in the liver, albeit in low amounts. Therefore, it is an important fatty acid for vegans.

  • Foods such as walnuts, canola oil, soy, flax seeds, sea vegetables, seaweed and derivatives are recommended as sources of Omega 3 fatty acids for vegetarians. Some vegetarian species can get this resource from fish.

  • Mastering the macronutrient, vitamin and mineral values ​​of the foods you consume will save you from a uniform diet. In this way, you can add variety to your diet by knowing what you need.

  • Vegans can correct their iodine deficiency by using seaweed, iodized salt, or iodine supplements.

  • Vegetables such as sweet potatoes, soy, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts, which are commonly consumed by vegans, reduce iodine absorption due to their goitrogen content. Attention should be paid to the frequency of use.

  • A daily 150 mg iodine supplement is recommended for pregnant vegans who are in the risk group due to low iodine intake and are of childbearing age. If the mother-to-be fed with iodine-deficient foods during pregnancy, obstacles may be observed in the mental and physical development of the child.

  • For vegetarians, enriched breakfast cereals, dried fruit, beans, lentils, green leafy vegetables, sesame seeds, nuts, wholemeal bread can be used as a source of iron.

  • Calcium and tannin reduce the absorption of iron. Therefore, tea, coffee consumption and calcium supplements should be made a few hours before a meal with high iron content. In addition, it is recommended that these foods be consumed with foods containing vitamin C to increase the absorption of iron.

  • Dairy products are a natural source of calcium for vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Vegans can consume fortified soy formulas, calcium-rich green leafy vegetables, soy milk, soy yogurt, and various calcium supplements.

  • B12 supplements should be made. In a study, vitamin B12 deficiency was observed at a rate of 52% in vegans, and 7% in vegetarians and those fed both animal and plant sources.

  • Soy milk, breakfast cereals, milk and dairy products, eggs, foods fortified with B12 can be used as a source of B12 for vegetarians. Vitamin B12 supplements are recommended especially for pregnant, nursing vegans and their babies.

  • In order to meet the needs of essential amino acids, the intake of cereals, shelled foods and seeds or dried legumes such as rice and lentils in the same meal supports the protein need.


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