Health,  Life

Vegetarian diets can actually affect mood

Vegetarianism refers to a diet that excludes meat and animal products. Such dietary patterns contain relatively less fat, are essentially cholesterol-free, and to some extent can decrease the likelihood of metabolic disorders like obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, as well as reduce the risk of gout and hyperuricemia. They may also prevent and relieve constipation,enhance immunity, help control blood glucose, reduce the risk of parasitic infections, and potentially decrease the probability of developing certain cancers.
However, humans are omnivores; a balanced diet consisting of staple foods,meat, vegetables, fruits and water is essential to ensure optimal health. Chronic diseases in modern times stem not from the consumption of meat but from an imbalanced diet structure,excess processed foods and insufficient physical activity. Following a vegetarian diet for long may pose risks of nutritional deficiencies leading to iron deficiency anemia or even just iron deficiency, as well as deficiency of minerals like zinc and calcium and nutrients like vitamin B12.Vegetarians who obtain fats solely from cooking oils may experience decreased memory and negatively affected moods,or even depression and neurological disorders, attributable to a lack of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).

Strict vegetarianism
is linked to higher risks of depression

Various studies have found that strict vegetarians exhibit higher propensities for mental disorders and are more likely to suffer from depression compared to non-vegetarians and semi-vegetarians. In one study, researchers surveyed over 160,000 participants ranging from10 to 96 years of age,almost covering the entire age spectrum. Among them were over 8500 strict vegetarians and over 140,000 non-vegetarians. After 11 psychological health tests,the researchers discovered that strict vegetarians showed higher risks and propensities for depression and anxiety,with overall risks exceeding twice that of the normal population.

Previous research published in the journal ‘Emotion disorder’suggests that vegetarians are more likely to lack nutrients like vitamin B12, which may negatively impact mental health. In their study of vegetarians, after adjusting for variables like employment status, family history and number of children in study participants, researchers found that vegetarians had lower intakes of vitamin B12, omega-3 fatty acids and folate compared to non-vegetarians, hence exhibiting higher risks of depression.

Vitamin B12 nurtures nerves and has beneficial effects in preventing a host of mental disorders like depression and Alzheimer’s. Its main sources are meat,eggs,milk and seafood.

Omega-3 fatty acids are vital substances for the functioning of the brain and nervous system,synthesis of neurotransmitters and transmission of positive emotions. Deficiency can reduce the brain’s efficiency in transmitting information and perceptiveness to emotions,thereby promoting depression. Around 90% of omega-3 fatty acids come from animal fats in food like fish and red meat. Long-term vegetarianism due to lack of omega-3 fatty acids may relatively heighten risks of mental disorders like depression.

Folate deficiency can cause neural tube defects in foetuses and mental disorders like depression in children, adolescents and adults. Studies show that folate supplementation can improve depressive symptoms.Vegetables contain abundant folate. However,as a water-soluble vitamin, folate is easily lost during cooking. Though yeast contain high amounts of folate, human intake is limited. As vegetarians do not consume meat, fish and other animal products, folate deficiency is likely.

Refusing meat is not a ‘remedy’for chronic diseases

In recent years, with the rising prevalence of chronic diseases like hyperglycemia, hypertension and hyperlipidemia, as well as for environmental protection, the number of vegetarians is growing. Some chronic disease patients refuse all meat and only eat rice and vegetables. However,balanced intake of nutrients in appropriate categories, weights and proportions alone can ensure optimal metabolic functioning.Vegetarianism, besides causing iron-deficiency anemia and osteoporosis due to nutrient deficiencies,may also lower immunity, making one more susceptible to respiratory and allergic diseases,and requiring a longer duration to recover from illnesses. Thus, it is advisable to ensure adequate intakes of quality proteins and fats in daily diets. If one really dislikes meat,protein supplements like protein powders and beans can make up for the deficiency.

Some vegetarians are more sensitive

Some vegetarians tend to be more empathetic, sensitive and prone to feel others’ pains.Survey data shows that over 60% of vegetarians do not eat meat because they think ‘life is precious’and have notions of ‘not wanting to kill’. These vegetarians think deeply of life and have compassion for other lives. When faced with stressful incidents in life,some can console themselves while others may plunge into despair – feeling dejected and finding it hard to recover.

Besides,some people choose vegetarianism because they have diseases that require dietary restrictions which are not voluntary choices but compulsions. They may feel that the quality of their lives is relatively low, and difficulties in life may trigger depression.

error: Content is protected !!