I was recently asked to give some tips on how to be healthy as a vegetarian. Here are some suggestions from my personal experience that really worked for me:
Vegetarians have been found to be deficient in their Vitamin B12, protein levels, and even iron levels when they are anemic. They almost always have a lack of the essential omega 3, 6 and 9 oils. Many are against vaccinations, reject antibiotics as essential, and often lead a stressed lifestyle. Some think soya is the answer to all their problems. Some find they have no physical or mental energy.
Not all of these problems refer to everyone. I shall explain how I deal with them.
* To resolve the deficiency of Vitamin B12 I take a B12 supplement. I have read British research where they found that B12 in pill form is just as effective as injecting it. It is very hard to get the proper amount of B12 in a vegetarian diet.
* Protein deficiency can really weaken the body. When the body is weakened, the effort required to work or accomplish anything increases which further depletes the available energy resources. I take protein powder everyday. There are various forms of protein powder and not all are equal. I have tried a variety of them, but have settled on the Iron-tek line of protein powders which seem to work well and taste good. These are whey based proteins. There are also products made with rice protein, hemp protein, soya protein and maybe others. I do not do well with them. You have to experiment to find out which one's are good for you. Some researchers have determined one needs around 80g of protein a day, but it was not clear if that is for those who work hard or for everyone. I take around 60g in the form of these powders. It makes an enormous difference in my life.
* Iron is best absorbed through food sources. I have a had a hard time with iron pills. Women especially require more iron during those times of the month.
* Omega oil is such a boost to health that I cannot recommend it enough to all vegetarians. Previously, it was almost impossible to find these oils in any other form than fish oil, which is often unacceptable to vegetarians, or through flax oil which tastes so bad one would rather be sick than drink it. I have found a super alternative that tastes ok, and gives all the omega oil one needs. It comes from Country Life and it is called Vegetarian Omega 3-6-9 oil. It enhances brain, blood, and many other essential metabolic functions. ***UPDATE*** they cancelled this product, probably due to the fact that no one knew about it. One has to therefore take regular flax oil in liquid or capsule form along with Borage Oil in liquid or capsule form. Taking this every day is life changing when one has lived without these oils for 20-30 years. UPDATE: There is an important form of Omega 3 called DHA that was formerly only obtained from non-vegetarian sources, but is now available in vegetarian form from Deva as Vegan Omega 3 DHA.
* Lack of mental energy along with an inability to concentrate have for years been dealt with by a strong cup of black tea or coffee. There is little doubt that caffeine enhances mental capacity for the short period it is effective before the subsequent caffeine crash, but there are other effects which create their own problems. I find coffee to be more of a drug than anything else and I take it to assist in dealing with my migraines where it has a great effect. Green tea has a very good effect on the blood circulation and the active ingredients are very helpful in a variety of ways. It gives clarity of mind. I can drink it every day without any difficulty. Organic green tea is much better for the health, I think.
For those who want to avoid caffeine, yerba mata can give great results.
*Dark chocolate is rapidly being discovered to have wonderful qualities. When researchers in Sweden announced its healthy qualities, one of which was to be anti-carcinogenic, I started devouring as much as I could tolerate. After all, what better news could there be? But, after I discovered Raw Organic Cacoa Nibs, I dumped all the commercial chocolate, dark as it might be, and will never look back. These raw nibs are the pure bean in its natural state. The shell is removed and these are uncooked. It is the cooking which creates the distortion in the cacoa and adds unwanted stimulants. The raw bean tastes fine to me (but then again I do not eat salt or sugar) and it gives a really good effect. Seems to be a natural anti-depressant and mood adjuster. Jashmuheen recommends yogic chocolate. She says take your tongue and bend it backwards to the roof of the mouth and leave it there. Creates a calming effect.
* Soya seems to have its own problems. I cannot tolerate soya (or soja as it is sometimes spelled). A friend of mine once advised me to do an internet search for 'soya bad' and read what appeared. It was enlightening and also according to my personal experience. I feel good about tempeh, and since I do not eat salt about Bragg Liquid Aminos since they are also compatible with me. I avoid all other soya products, but that is just me. Come to your own conclusions.
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