Disadvantages and harms of vegetarianism

Vegetarianism can be a healthy way of eating, as long as your diet is properly designed to give the body all the nutrients it needs. If a vegetarian diet does not contain certain vitamins and minerals, certain nutrient deficiencies can develop that can be detrimental to health and even life-threatening.

Lack of iodine

The metabolism of the human body is regulated by hormones in the thyroid gland, and this requires that iodine be supplied to the body properly. Iodine is needed for the proper functioning and maintenance of the heart, brain, and kidneys. Seafood is the best source of iodine, although it can also be found in dairy products and kelp.

Being a vegetarian, especially one who also excludes dairy products, can put you at risk of developing iodine deficiency, which can lead to side effects such as hypothyroidism and goiter.

Vitamin B12 deficiency

Vitamin B12 helps the body produce red blood cells. However, deficiency of this vitamin causes anemia. Other signs of a B12 deficiency include numbness, increased fatigue, diarrhea, nervousness, or shortness of breath. B12 deficiency can go unnoticed for a long time due to the high amount of folate that a vegetarian diet often contains. Folate can mask signs of B12 deficiency until more severe symptoms such as neurological damage appear.

Zinc deficiency

Without zinc the immune system cannot function properly, and zinc plays a key role in cell division and helps your body form proteins. Although zinc can be found in both animal products and plants. The body absorbs this mineral more easily through animal-based foods. Signs of a zinc deficiency can include loss of appetite, unintentional weight loss, loss of taste or smell, hair loss, poor wound healing, and depression.

Although nutritional deficiencies can be severe, most of the problems can be prevented fairly easily.

For example, consume iodized table salt daily, as little as 1/4 tsp. contains 95 micrograms of iodine, and adults over 14 years of age need 150 micrograms of this mineral per day.

Both vitamin B12 and zinc can be found in foods such as fortified breakfast cereals and dairy products.

Adverse effects on the digestive system

Plants contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, but the fiber is not actually digested.

Too much can cause these side effects:

  • spasms;
  • ​​
  • bloating;
  • malabsorption syndrome;
  • accumulation of toxic substances;
  • constipation and other discomforts.

Sufficient water is needed to move the volume of these fibers through the digestive system, because all this can lead to intestinal blockage.

Many grains, and wheat in particular, contain insoluble fiber, which can increase intestinal discomfort. Also, humans have a much shorter digestive structure than herbivores, and they do not have specialized organs for digesting cellulose, the main fiber in plants.

Necessity of meat

Meat brings a huge amount of benefits to the human body, and by excluding it from their diet, vegetarians also expose themselves to the absence of such essential substances that cannot be derived from plants:

  • creatine - creates energy reserves in muscles and brain tissue;
  • carnosine is an antioxidant that protects against degeneration;
  • DHA and EPA (active forms of omega-3 ) convert ALA (plant-based omega-3) to its active form;
  • vitamin B12 helps synthesize DNA, prevents certain types of anemia, and promotes healthy nerve cells;
  • a protein of high biological value that is easily absorbed by the body.

Research data

New research shows that along with weight loss, reduced cancer risk and increased life expectancy, vegetarianism may have lesser known side effects. effects such as panic attacks.

It was a surprising finding last year when Australian researchers found that vegetarians reported being less optimistic about the future than meat eaters.

Moreover, they were 18% more likely to report depression, and 28% more likely to suffer from panic attacks and anxiety. A separate study in Germany confirms this, finding that vegetarians are 15 percent more likely to be depressed and twice as likely to suffer from anxiety disorders.

Due to the body's incredible adaptability, the decline in health due to a vegetarian diet is often slow and gradual.

This can make these health problems difficult to detect. First, one may overlook the lack of fat-soluble nutrients that the body does not receive (especially retinol and K2 ), and that protein deficiency is detrimental to health. Because the body will first deplete its stored food reserves, which can be many months or years before nutrient deficiencies lead to impaired detoxification, thyroid problems, and/or hormonal imbalances.

In an attempt to increase dietary protein and calories, nuts are often taken to form a larger portion of the diet. But there are serious problems with the consumption of heavy nuts. Nuts are very difficult to break down, especially for people with low stomach acid. They also contain very high levels of polyunsaturated fats, inhibitors of enzymes and include phytic acid, which blocks mineral absorption.

Negative effects of vegetarianism on pregnancy

Vegetarianism, if approached wisely, will not have bad effects on pregnancy. However, if a woman is not accustomed to a vegetarian diet, or is not getting a complete balance of nutrients, then problems may arise with the woman herself or with her child. One of the most common problems in vegetarianism during pregnancy is the lack of protein.

Protein deficiency during pregnancy will weaken the mother and may lead to developmental problems in the fetus.

Protein should be obtained from a range of sources, including grains and legumes. Otherwise, you can miss the full set of essential amino acids needed to create new proteins in the body. According to doctors, pregnant women in the last two trimesters should try to get 71 grams of protein.

Lack of iron during pregnancy can contribute to weakness and lethargy. In severe cases, this can lead to low birth weight and cognitive problems in children. Iron is found in high doses in meat and fish. However, some plant foods do contain iron, although it tends to be a less easily absorbed form called non-heme iron. The Office of Dietary Supplementation suggests that pregnant women get 27 milligrams of iron from their diet per day. For example, soybeans contain 8.8 milligrams of iron per 1 cup, while 1/2 cup of boiled spinach contains 2.3 milligrams. Some cereals and other foods are fortified with iron.

Male hypospadias developmental defect means that the penis has an abnormal opening for the urethra. In a 2000 study published in BJU International, researchers found that high levels of phytoestrogens consumed in a vegetarian diet may play a role in increasing the risk of hypospadias. They found that vegetarian mothers were more likely to have a child with hypospadias. Other research suggests that high soy intake may play a role in hypospadias, notes VeganHealth.org.

The dangers of vegetarianism for the child's body

Any parent who wants to raise their child as a vegan should be very informed. Vegan children may be deficient in vitamin D, calcium, iron, and possibly vitamin B12, so they need dietary supplements.

Another big problem is that the vegetarian diet is not very dense: you need to eat a lot to get enough energy. But kids don't usually eat a lot, so getting enough calories can be difficult.

Another difficulty is protein. If a child eats meat and fish, it is easy to get all the necessary amino acids. But if a child gets protein from plant foods, the problem is that one type of component may not contain every amino acid. In other words, a child who eats only chicken will get all the amino acids, but a child who eats only one type of beans will not get them.

Vegetarian diets can be high in fiber. Fiber is great because it fills the stomach without adding many calories. But children have small stomachs, and the fiber they eat can fill them up before they get enough calories, which is bad for a growing body.

The effect of a vegetarian diet on a woman's body

Vegetarianism can affect a woman's menstrual cycle, both positively and potentially negatively.

Compared with omnivores, women who follow vegetarian diets may be at higher risk of secondary amenorrhea—when previously normal periods stop for six months or more.

Vegetarianism may improve symptoms of dysmenorrhea, the medical term for abdominal pain, cramps, and pressure.

A review paper published in the December 2006 issue of the Journal of Pediatrics and Adolescent Gynecology noted that younger women reported milder and shorter symptoms of dysmenorrhea after switching to the diet. low fat vegetarian diet in a clinical study. However, whether this effect was due to the lack of meat, the reduction in meat, or certain plant nutrients remains unknown.

A vegetarian diet may affect the length of a woman's reproductive phase. According to an article published in the January 2014 issue of the Journal of Midlife Health, vegetarianism is one of several factors that contribute to menopause, which occurs earlier than in the rest of the population. But the same article notes that a high intake of fruits and vegetables may delay the onset of menopause due to the effect of antioxidants on the quality and quantity of ovarian follicles.

Hormone-Related Menstrual Disorders

In some cases, vegetarianism can lead to menstrual irregularities due to low levels of certain hormones. A paper published in the September 2013 issue of Public Health found that compared to omnivorous women, vegetarian women have lower levels of estrogen, and the steroid hormone is involved in sexual and reproductive development. When it comes to menstruation, low estrogen can lead to irregular bleeding, as well as symptoms of depression and emotional instability often associated with premenstrual syndrome.

A vegetarian needs to make careful choices about their diet and eat a wide variety of foods to ensure they meet their nutritional requirements. Some vegans may need to take supplements.