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Several million Americans have abandoned red meat and poultry in favor of a predominantly plant-based diet. One reason some are making the switch is evidence of the health perks from going vegetarian or vegan, reports the May 2014 Harvard Women's Health Watch.
"There's certainly some research on the benefits of the vegetarian diet," says Kathy McManus, director of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital. It can help lower or control weight, reduce the chances of developing heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, and possibly lead to a longer, healthier life.
There are a variety of plant-based diets, named largely for what they include or exclude:
Do you have rumbling abdominal sounds after eating milk products?
Do you get abdominal cramps, bloating, or diarrhea after eating milk products?
Can you tolerate small amounts of milk?
Do your symptoms improve when you eliminate milk products from your diet?
Careful abdominal exam
Trial of elimination of milk products from the diet
Hydrogen breath test
Lactose tolerance test