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Health & Nutrition

Eating a vegetarian diet creates an excellent foundation for a healthy life. Here, you'll learn how to get best nutrition and good health from the food you eat.

ask the doc veg friendly common supplements

Q: I know that supplements for omega-3s and glucosamine are derived from animals. Are there vegetarian versions? A: Yes! Let's look at a few: Omega-3s Fish oil is the most famous source for these essential fatty acids, but it's definitely not the only game in town. Omega-3s are derived from one parent compound called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which actually comes from green plants. So a person or animal who eats green plants absorbs the plant's ALA and turns it into omega-3s; for example, fish get their ALA from green algae.

Seasonal Allergies

Q: I have asthma and allergies that flare up in the spring and fall. Can diet changes help?

Q My parents are overweight, my father has high cholesterol and two of my grandparents had diabetes. How much good does it do to change my lifestyle if these problems run in my family?

Q  It's summertime and I'm a lot more active—biking, swimming, playing sports—than I am in winter. What is good vegetarian fuel for when I'm being really active? What do I need and where can I get it?

 If you're aiming to power up your athletic activities, you'll find an endless array of nutritional products—and a cacophony of conflicting advice on what to eat and when. But a look inside those exercising muscles of yours will tell you a lot about what you really need.

Q: I've heard that some illnesses, from arthritis to heart problems, may be caused by inflammation. But what does that really mean? Can I do anything about it?

Q: I hear about lots of people getting gallstones and that they hurt! What exactly are they, and what can I do to prevent them? If I do get them, can I get rid of them—or at least limit gallstone attacks?

A: You're right. Gallstones are a common problem. About one in ten Americans has them, and 500,000 Americans have their gallbladders removed every year. They occur more frequently in women than men and are more common as we age.

Yep, says the dairy industry whose ads promise a “trimmer tummy” by drinking milk. Other ads on Dr.

Vegetarian TimesI seem to put on pounds more easily than other people, and everyone in my family has struggled with weight gain. Can I change my inherited “plump genes” without starving myself? 

Q: I seem to gain weight so easily and lose it so slowly. Could I have a slow metabolism? Or thyroid problems?

A: It's possible, but let's start by defining our terms. The word "metabolism" means the speed at which your body burns calories. Even at rest, your body uses up some calories to maintain your body temperature and keep your brain working, your heart beating, etc. When you start moving around, your metabolism speeds up to keep pace with your muscles.

Q: I can't seem to get my cholesterol under 200, but I want to avoid taking medication. Does exercise really help?

A: Exercise can indeed help, depending on what kind you do. Think aerobic: brisk walking, jogging, singles tennis, cycling, dance workouts. Aerobic exercise has a small effect on total cholesterol, but it has a great effect on "good" cholesterol (high density lipoprotein, or HDL), increasing it by 10 percent or more. Exercise also reduces triglycerides (blood fats).

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