This is a guest post by a talented food, health and lifestyle writer Shelly Stinson. She has some great tips to share with you on how being a vegetarian can help with nourishment.
Some people decide to become vegetarian because they care about animals and don’t want to see them killed, or they want to help the environment and growing animals contributes to deforestation and increased greenhouse gas emissions. And, certainly, these are both good reasons to eat a plant-based diet. However, being vegetarian provides another benefit too. It also helps with nourishment.
Our bodies need certain vitamins and minerals in order to survive. For instance, vitamin B is important when it comes to eyesight, heart health, and brain function; whereas getting your recommended calcium intake means that your muscles and nerves will get what they need to keep you up and running (literally). All of these nutrients play a key role in the body, ensuring that it will work as intended.
By eating a plant-based diet that’s filled with a variety fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds, you have a high likelihood that you’ll be able to meet a lot of your nutrient-related needs. This is because each one of these food groups, as well as the individual foods within the groups, provides a different set of vitamins and minerals necessary for these important bodily functions.
Eat kale and you’ll get a good dose of vitamin B6, potassium, vitamin E, and calcium. Add almonds to your diet and you’ll also increase your intake of manganese, vitamin B2, and copper. Throw in a few wheat-based grains and now you’re looking after your body’s vitamin B1, phosphorus, and zinc consumption. Each one helps improve your health individually, but add them all together and you’ve now got the nutrients you need to be as healthy as possible.
Plus, by eating certain vitamins and minerals, you can help your body absorb other vitamins and minerals. As an example, eating foods that contain vitamin C, such as dark leafy greens and bell peppers, you’re helping your body absorb iron, a mineral that is responsible for making sure your cells get the oxygen they need. And if you take in enough vitamin D by drinking orange juice and eating breakfast cereal, it aids your body in the absorption of phosphorus, giving you stronger bones.
Composition of the plant-based foods you consume can play a role as well. The European Food Information Council talks about bioaccesibility and how you have to ‘liberate’ nutrients from the foods in order to get your use from them. Whilst this is typically done during the chewing and digesting process, thanks largely to enzymes in our stomach and intestines, another option is pureeing or juicing.
Breaking down the plant-based foods prior to eating them can help release the vitamins and minerals they contain, making it easier for your body to absorb them, thus potentially providing you with greater nourishment. This can have many positive physical effects on your health, as one woman can attest to after combining juicing with integrative nutrition to help rid her of a skin condition called melasma.
From increasing the amount of nutrients you consume to helping you break them down in a way that they’re more easily absorbed, this dietary lifestyle provides a lot of benefits. One of them is definitely increased nourishment, and that is a huge benefit all on its own.