I have some friends who are vegetarians. I have heard that by not eating any meat you are more likely to get sick. ( colds, cough, flu). Is this true?

Eating a healthy diet can help reduce your risk of disease. One needs to get a good variety of nutrients (vitamins, minerals, fluids, carbohydrates, protein, etc) for the maximum disease fighting potential. Vegetarians need to work a little harder in consuming adequate nutrients, as they exclude various food groups from their diet. There are different types of vegetarians. A flexitarian (semi-vegetarian) consumes mostly a vegetarian diet, but occasionally eats meat. A lacto-ovo vegetarian does not eat beef, pork, poultry, fish, shellfish or animal flesh of any kind, but does eat eggs and dairy products. A vegan does not eat meat of any kind and also does not eat eggs, dairy products, or processed foods containing these or other animal-derived ingredients such as gelatin.

Those vegetarians that do not eat meat will need to work harder to consume the vitamins and minerals generally found in meat (protein, niacin, zinc, iron, vitamin B6 and B12). So, while it is not necessarily true the vegetarians get sicker more often, those that do not carefully plan their menus and get in all of the necessary nutrients for health may have a weakened immune system. I would advise the vegetarians to make sure they are getting plenty of protein (soy products, beans, whole grains, nuts/seeds) and making sure they are getting adequate amounts of fluid also.

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