By Bridgette Elliott
It is well known that the primary source of health comes from what we eat, but a lot of the foods we put into our bodies wreak havoc on our digestive system as well. And the worst part? Most Americans don’t even know it. We have been brought up to believe that we must follow the food pyramid in order to be healthy. We have to have those servings of meat and dairy or else we’ll shrivel up and become weak human beings. But what about people who are lactose intolerant? And the vegetarians out there seem to be fine. In fact, vegetarians and vegans are among the healthiest in the country. Something doesn’t add up, and L2B is here to reveal the facts about healthy eating.
A big, juicy cheeseburger may sound good, but the effects of all that fat and grease really damage your body. The saying “you are what you eat” is actually very accurate; meat eating Americans have been proven to be more overweight than vegetarians. On top of being overweight, people who eat meat are at higher risk of disease and other health issues. The benefits of vegetarian and vegan diets are being proven everyday with healthier, disease free individuals. It’s never too late to change your eating habits and reverse your risk of diseases and an unhealthy body.
Meat is very high in fat and cholesterol. Fatty deposits from the meat build up in your arteries and can lead to heart attacks and strokes later in life. Luckily, this is completely reversible for young people who change their eating habits. Meat is also loaded with calories and is much harder on your digestive track, taking four and a half hours to be absorbed in the intestines, compared to only two and half hours for grains and vegetables.
Meat contains tons of hormones and other drugs that can’t be healthy on our bodies. Hormones are pumped into these animals so they can produce more eggs and meat. That piece of chicken you just ate could be loaded with hormones you don’t even know about. Diseases also run high among the animals in such close quarters. Although farms have strict regulations nowadays, there is still risk of contracting infectious diseases from the animal consumed. Most of these diseases can be treated, but why take the risk?
Meat isn’t the only unhealthy product of animals, dairy food contains a lot of fat and can also harm your body. Dairy food is a product of the mammary gland and consequently affects reproductive organs, especially the breast, uterus, and ovaries. All the fat produces a lot of mucus which can then form into cysts in the breast, tumors and eventually breast cancer. If you stop and think about how a cow’s milk is meant to nourish a 50lb calf into a 600lb cow you may reconsider depending on it for your own nourishment.
Animal products have also been linked to many diseases and cancers. Studies show that vegans are 57 percent less likely to develop heart disease, and vegetarians are 50 percent less likely to suffer from many different kinds of cancer, including lymphatic, esophagus, pancreas, stomach, and prostate cancer.The American Cancer Society’s number one recommendation is for Americans to have a plant based diet.
Many studies have proven the health advantages of vegetarians and vegans. There are no vitamins or nutrients found in meat that cannot be found in a vegetarian or vegan diet. L2B urges all our readers to consider these health benefits and open your mind to a plant based diet.
Becoming a vegetarian isn’t as easy for some as it is for others. There are many meat alternatives offered in grocery stores everywhere today. One of the most popular and delicious brands is Morningstar. If meat alternatives isn’t your thing, try taking meat out of one meal a day–even cutting back makes a huge difference. The fact is, our bodies were not make to digest meat and dairy products, which is why so many Americans have digestive problems related to animal products. You only have one body, why not give it the love and care it deserves?
By Bridgette Elliott, a University of Alabama junior studying pre-law.