Vegetarian diet endorsed by doctor

DEAR DR. GOTT: In the past, a reader of your column extolled the virtues of eating meat. Here is my humble opinion on the subject.

I am a 56-year-old male who is 99 percent vegetarian. If I were responsible for all my own meals, I could easily make that 100 percent. I am not a great consumer of eggs or milk, although I do use them in baking, and it is hard to make a pizza without cheese. So I do get some animal protein. My intake of meat is closer to 3 ounces a month rather than the 3 ounces a day put forth by the writer as a minimum daily requirement.

When I was 23, I was diagnosed with stage III Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I survived 18 months of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. The cancer has not come back. My health has been closely monitored for the past 30-plus years, with regular checkups and blood work. If going meatless were bad, I would have found out by now.

I minimize my intake of salt, fat and especially sugar. My cholesterol, body-mass index and blood pressure are ideal for my age. Oh yes, my current doctor is a practicing Hindu. No meat? No problem.

DEAR READER: You certainly do appear to have your dietary habits under good control. And it is my guess that you know more about nutrients than the average person does.

My initial concern for you would be possible mineral, vitamin B complex and calcium deficiencies, as well as iron-deficiency anemia. Because you have regular checkups and blood work, any abnormalities would be apparent, and your doctor would address them. Does your diet include beans, soy or other forms of protein? Are you taking a good multivitamin?

The fact that you are free of your Hodgkin’s is impressive. You certainly must be doing something right. Good work.

To provide related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report, “Vitamins & Minerals.� Other readers who would like a copy should send a self-addressed stamped No. 10 envelope and a check or money order for $2 to Newsletter, PO Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092. Be sure to mention the title.

DEAR DR. GOTT: Your column recently had a letter from a 73-year-old female who was constantly fatigued. Her blood work showed Epstein-Barr virus, and she wondered if that were the cause.

I, too, had unexplained fatigue for several years, and my blood work also showed the Epstein-Barr virus. My doctor said almost everyone has it, and it is unlikely to cause fatigue, so she tested me extensively and even referred me to an internal-medicine specialist.

The fatigue remained a mystery until Christmas Eve 2008, when I was doubled up with abdominal pain for three hours. I finally called 911 and was taken to the hospital, where it was determined I needed a bowel resection owing to adhesions resulting from an earlier surgery. I am now healed, and the fatigue has disappeared.

Oddly, an acquaintance told me the same story about three months after my surgery. For both of us, the only symptom was increasing fatigue.

I would urge your reader to request an abdominal MRI, because it can’t hurt and might even prevent a serious medical condition from becoming worse.

DEAR READER: I have not heard of fatigue as a symptom of abdominal adhesions, nor of bowel obstruction. The most common symptoms include pain and cramping. Because you also mentioned knowing another person with symptoms matching yours as the result of abdominal adhesions and bowel obstructions, I am printing your letter for the interest of my readers. Thank you for writing.

Peter Gott practiced medicine in Lakeville for 40 years.

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