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Digestive Disease Prevention: A Reason to 'Go Veg'?

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When compiling any list of reasons to go vegetarian, the lowered risk of heart disease usually rises to the top.

By cutting meat out of your diet, you are decreasing your intake of animal fats that often contribute to high cholesterol levels and heart problems.

Say, though, that heart disease is not your immediate concern and that you are looking for other reasons to go vegetarian.

It turns out that, for direct and indirect reasons, your digestive system could be a key beneficiary of a vegetarian diet.

First of all, a vegetarian diet can help you lose weight, and a leaner physique puts less strain on your liver, kidneys and other digestive organs.

Second, a vegetarian diet has been shown to be a viable option for those with diabetes, who want to bring their blood sugar under control.

Third, vegetarians rightfully claim that their diet lowers their risk of cancer, and there are major organs in the digestive system that are vulnerable to cancer, including the colon. Colon cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer deaths in the United States.

Because colorectal cancer has occurred in my family, I am seriously considering going vegetarian. So I was encouraged by an article called "Why Go Veg?" on the VegetarianTimes.com website. Plus, it sounds fun to possibly announce I have "gone veg."

The article states that the research is extensive on the health benefits of a plant-based diet. It also says that one-third of all cancers are related to diet, noting:

"A vegetarian diet reduces the risk for chronic degenerative diseases such as obesity, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and certain types of cancer including colon, breast, prostate, stomach, lung and esophageal cancer."

That's a pretty powerful recommendation for going meatless, or at least for reducing the meat in my diet, a philosophy which falls in line with recent federal government guidelines on nutrition.

"You'll be more 'regular,' " the article adds, in case anyone needed a reminder about the importance of fiber for aiding digestion.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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