Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Vegetarians live longer? What's in meat that shortens life

It's something that many of us already unconsciously agree with - vegetarians live longer than meat-eaters.  Headlines reminded us that again couple of days ago when a study was released by a team of researchers at the Loma Linda University in California.
But what's in the meat that shortens the lives of beef eaters?  I was just pondering on that after reading some of the reports when I ran into another report by Oxford-based William MacAskill, that puts some caveat. The title was the first attraction - 'Vegetarians live longer, but it’s not because they don’t eat meat'.  Great! That means I can eat beef regularly and still live long. How reassuring.
Infact MacAskill accuses the media of oversimplification and misrepresentation.  "I saw that headline this week and I read: “Media misunderstand science (again)." One of the most basic concepts in science is that correlation does not imply causation—even though it is sometimes highly suggestive of it," he writes.
Since coming to terms with the fact that regular consumption of red meat might be undoing my health, I've dropped the quantity I eat.  I admire vegetarians and hopes that I might become one some day. But being a vegetarian does not automatically equal longevity except the other variables that makes for healthy living are present.  MacAskill lists a few namely: regular exercise, avoiding tobacco and reducing/avoiding alcohol.
According a similar report released by the US Cancer Institute, "diets high in red meat and in processed meat shorten life span not just from cancer and heart disease but from Alzheimer's, stomach ulcers and an array of other conditions as well."
If you are a meat eater like me, you must be mindful of the quantity you take and how often you take it.
Trading some of the red meat in your diet for fish, nuts, whole grains, and other healthier protein could  reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and other related illnesses.
Researchers estimate that substituting one daily serving of red meat with fish, poultry, nuts, legumes, whole grains, or low-fat dairy products would reduce the risk of dying from heart disease and cancer of life by 7% to 19%.
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