Say ‘No’ To That Steak, Vegetarians Live Longer
By Dr. James Palermo // June 5, 2013
EVIDENCE MOUNTING THAT MEAT BAD FOR LONGEVITY
ABOVE VIDEO: On the HowcastHealthChannel, Nutritionist Lisa Neilsen talks about intelligent food choices in a vegetarian diet to ensure adequate protein and wholegrain intake, and a good balanced variety of vegetables.
A study by researchers at Loma Linda University, which was recently published in JAMA Internal Medicine, lends more credence to growing evidence that people who avoid meat in their diet live longer.
STUDY HIGHLIGHTS THE PERILS OF MEAT CONSUMPTION
Like a study out of the University of Oxford earlier this year that found vegetarian diets could cut heart disease risk by one-third, and research from the University of Zurich, which found that eating more than 20 grams of processed meat a day—the equivalent of one thin strip of bacon—increased the risk of dying from a stroke, cancer, or heart attack, the Loma Linda study highlights the perils of meat consumption, finding that vegetarians, and even pescatarians live longer than their meat-eating peers.
SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST PARTICIPANTS FOLLOWED OVER SIX YEARS
Over the past 50 years, researchers at Loma Linda University, a Seventh-Day Adventist institution in Loma Linda, California, have studied the health of Seventh-Day Adventists, who encourage a vegetarian dietary lifestyle because of their belief in the holistic nature of humankind.
In this recent study, researchers asked 73,308 Seventh-Day Adventists about their diets and followed them for six years. The research participants were divided into categories based on how often they consumed meat, eggs, fish, and dairy. Of the participants, 21,117 were vegetarians who consumed dairy and egg products, 7,194 were pescatarians, and 5,548 were vegans.
12% REDUCED RISK FOR DEATH, BENEFITS GREATEST IN MEN
The participants in the vegetarian category had an average 12 percent reduced risk of dying from all causes when compared with non-vegetarian participants. Vegans and pescatarians were also found to have a lower mortality risk than meat eaters.
The findings suggested that a meat-free diet was even more beneficial for men than women. Vegetarian men had an even lower risk of dying from cardiovascular causes, while vegetarian women had about the same odds of cardiovascular-related death as meat-eating women.
COMPELLING EVIDENCE TO HELP GUIDE DIETARY CHOICES
In a telephone interview with Bloomberg News, Dr. Michael Orlich, lead study author and assistant professor of preventive medicine at Loma Linda, said, “People should take these kinds of results into account as they’re considering dietary choices.”
Orlich points out that it’s not clear whether avoiding red meat and processed meats plays a role in boosting life or whether the foods that vegetarians are eating lowers their risk of dying compared with non-vegetarians, but adds that it is clear that, “Various types of vegetarian diets may be beneficial in reducing the risk of death compared to non-vegetarian diets.” He said he is planning a study to help identify more specifically which foods are explaining these results.
If you’re considering a vegetarian diet, make sure you do your homework and learn about the nutritional benefits as well as how to manage the diet to address some of the drawbacks related to possible deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals, such as iron, vitamin B-12, zinc, calcium, and vitamin D. The WebMD slideshow Becoming A Vegetarian is a great place to start your education.