– Excessive consumption of red meat is bad for your health. This is now well known. But the wrong vegetarian diet, according to a new study, can also increase the risk of death. What’s behind it?
Excessive meat consumption is bad for your health. People who regularly eat red meat are more likely to develop diabetes, cardiovascular disease or colon cancer. This was the conclusion of researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.
A mainly plant-based diet, on the other hand, is considered very healthy. However, only under certain conditions, because the wrong vegetarian diet can not only be extremely unhealthy, but also lead to a markedly higher risk of death. That’s what researchers at Loma Linda University in California have found.
Study with over 77,000 participants
As fitbook.de reported, the researchers got 77,437 people to fill out a questionnaire. Participants were asked to tick off over 200 foods, which of them are part of their daily diet. In addition, the subjects provided additional information about weight, lifestyle, medical history, alcohol consumption, exercise, sleep, etc.
After seven and a half years, 9293 of the respondents were dead. The researchers developed a static model to find out what caused their death, what diseases they suffered from and what they ate. This helped them look at each variable independently. They specifically examined the intake of ultra-processed foods. They published the results in the journal American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
This is how ultra-processed foods make you sick
“Our study addresses the question of what makes a vegetarian diet healthy or unhealthy,” explains study leader Prof. Gary Fraser in a statement from the university. “It seems that the proportion of ultra-processed vegetarian foods in the diet is actually more important than the proportion of animal foods in terms of risk of death.” Above all, sweets, soft drinks and certain meat substitutes are among the ultra-processed foods.
A high consumption of these foods is associated with the development of various diseases. These include respiratory and kidney diseases as well as neurological impairments, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. But eating a lot of red meat also has a negative effect on health and can increase the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Therefore, the researchers assess mortality risks based on two independent dietary factors: First, the proportion of the diet consisting of ultra-processed foods in relation to fresh products. On the other hand, the proportion of the diet consisting of animal foods in relation to plant foods.
Risk of death in comparison
The result of the analysis shows that the risk of death mainly depends on the consumption of ultra-processed foods. People who got 50 percent of their total calories from ultra-processed foods faced a 14 percent higher mortality rate than people who got only 12.5 percent of their total calories from ultra-processed foods. “Our study shows how it is possible to be a bad vegetarian or a good non-vegetarian,” Fraser said.
Anyone who eats about 40 grams of red meat a day increases their risk of dying by eight percent, provided they avoid ultra-processed foods as much as possible.
Fraser stressed that a vegetarian or vegan diet consisting of the wrong foods can be extremely harmful to the body and increase the risk of death. “If you’re interested in living longer, you should avoid a diet high in processed ingredients,” Fraser said. “Also make red meat an exception. That’s how simple it is.”