Another benefit of a vegetarian diet is that it makes you “more regular.” The reason is simple: eating a lot of vegetables, fruits, and grains means consuming fiber, which helps push waste out of the body. Meat contains no fiber.
On Oprah’s show about food (which I’m posting about for the third time now… did I mention that I’m SO EXCITED about this show?), Alicia Silverstone talked to Oprah about poop. Watch the clip here.
But, besides just going #2 more often, a vegetarian diet helps prevent against chronic lower intestine and colon ailments such as colon cancer, diverticulitis, spastic colon, hemorrhoids, and constipation.
Jennifer Reilly, R.D., Senior Nutritionist for The Cancer Project says:
“Research has shown that people who regularly eat red or processed meat are up to 50 percent more likely to develop colon cancer than those who avoid meat, and a crossover study recently published in the journal Cancer Research confirmed that a plant-based diet can play a key role in cancer prevention.
Study participants were put on a vegetarian, red meat, or red meat and high-fiber diet for 15 days. The red meat diet resulted in significantly higher levels of N-nitrosocompounds—compounds that can alter DNA and increase the risk of developing colon cancer—than the vegetarian diet. The red meat, high-fiber diet resulted in lower levels of N-nitrosocompounds than the red meat diet, but not as low as with the vegetarian diet.
This data suggests that fiber, which is found only in plant foods, may play a protective role by repairing damaged DNA and decreasing the amount of time harmful compounds stay in the colon.
Colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer worldwide, but it doesn’t have to be. A meatless diet rich in fiber, fruits, and vegetables may be our strongest ally in the fight against colon cancer.”
Different types of meat appear to have different effects on the colon. Some types of meat cause more damage (damage that can lead to cancer development), to the cells in the colon than other types of meat.
Processed meats (that means smoked, cured, and salted meats, such as hot dogs, sausages, salami, bologna, bratwurst, bacon, salt pork, cold cuts and lunch meat, ham, pastrami, pepperoni, smoked fish, corned beef, jerky, etc.) are the most dangerous. When processed, cancer-causing (carcinogenic) chemicals are created in meat. These chemicals, when eaten, increase colon cancer risk.
The Cancer Project says, “Research has shown that people who eat a diet free of animal products, high in plant foods, and low in fat have a much lower risk of developing cancer.” And that’s acually all types of cancer, not just colon cancer.
Breakfast: Bagel with soy cream cheese
Lunch: Pasta, grapes, and strawberries
Dinner: Eggplant parmesan