HIV Foundation Health 9 facts: What it means for your health if you cut out meat

9 facts: What it means for your health if you cut out meat

Vegetarians and vegans are no better people. But mostly they are slimmer and healthier than meat eaters. New scientific studies have now found further differences – they even affect the psyche.

The latest news from German slaughterhouses have certainly given the vegetarians and vegans community a new boost. In addition to animal welfare and ecological aspects, avoiding meat is usually also based on the desire for a healthy diet. What does science say

1. Consensus: little meat is okay, but not really necessary

Every German eats 150 grams of meat and meat products on average every day. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but it clearly exceeds the maximum 600 grams that the German Nutrition Society per week finds acceptable. Many consumers are also significantly higher. It is these “meat eaters” who are mentioned in the studies on the harmful effects of meat consumption.

But even with those who eat a lot of meat, there are differences: because those who eat a lot of unprocessed meat, and at the same time high in fiber and low in sugar, have a low risk of disease. This is the case, for example, with the Paleo diet.

Experts consider the Mediterranean diet to be the best nutritional method in the world, and it has been for two decades. In 2019 she was once again named the best diet of the year by “US News” . A lot of vegetables, fish and olive oil end up on the plate, but little meat and processed foods.

In comparative studies, it is not vegetarians and vegans who do well, but people who eat little meat.

But you can also say with a clear conscience to Tilmann Kühn, nutritional epidemiologist at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg: “If you eat wholesome vegetarian food, your body is fine. On the contrary, according to scientific findings, a vegetarian diet is actually very healthy. ”With one small caveat:“ Less meat ”only makes sense if the calorie advantage is not topped up with pizza, biscuits or meat imitations.

2. Those who do not eat meat also live more healthily in other ways

Numerous studies have shown that the biggest meat fans usually do not have good eating habits. Even if you neglect the nutritional value of individual foods, a diet high in meat and sausage as well as sugar, white flour and saturated fats from ready-made foods is unhealthy. Because healthy foods such as vegetables, fruit, legumes, whole grains or nuts are definitely neglected.

3. meat or plant? Nutritional studies are conditionally meaningful

In the laboratory, it is possible to determine how certain nutrients affect human cells. Studies with humans don’t work like that. The health comparison “meat eaters versus vegetarians” is only possible in observational studies. Their conclusions are only an approximation of reality. Too many factors play a role in health for the question to be reduced to schnitzel and tofu . For example: is a chain-smoking vegan healthier than an athletic meat eater?

Epidemiological studies can never conclusively prove that meat consumption is unhealthy. And it is also not conclusively clear which individual ingredients are harmful to health.

4. When it comes to meat, it depends on the color

Beef, pork, lamb or sheep provide the so-called red meat. It is said to cause cardiovascular diseases and problems with the blood vessels.

For US researcher Stanley Hazen from the Cleveland Clinic, a metabolic product of the carnitine contained in red meat is responsible for this. To prove this, he had 113 test subjects eat 250 grams of steak a day for four weeks. A two-week break was followed by four weeks with a correspondingly large amount of (white) poultry meat and, at the end, a meat-free month.

The result , published in the “European Heart Journal”, showed a significant 3-fold increase in the TMAO plasma concentration during the steak weeks. TMAO is produced during the metabolism of carnitine and is a risk marker for hardening of the arteries in the blood vessels. The diet with poultry and vegetables led to a decrease in plasma concentrations in the test subjects.

Red meat is also directly or indirectly involved in the development of cancer.

For example, studies by the DKFZ have shown that people who eat a lot of red meat have increased biomarkers of certain roasting substances, such as those produced during roasting and grilling, swim in the blood. These people were at an increased risk of developing colon cancer.

In the large-scale EPIC study across Europe, 519,000 test persons were examined to find out the connection between diet and cancer .

The results show that red meat can increase the risk of colon cancer. Accordingly, the risk of the disease increases by almost 50 percent if the daily consumption of meat is 100 grams above the recommended amount. The same amount of sausage products increases the risk by as much as 70 percent.

The risk of stomach cancer is also said to be related to heavy meat consumption. In people infected with the Helicobacter pylori bacterium, the risk increases by a factor of five.

5. Theory 1: Iron makes meat unhealthy

There are various theories about why red meat is so problematic. The so-called iron load hypothesis is based on the fact that red meat contains a comparatively high amount of iron. This so-called heme iron has a high bioavailability, unlike iron from plant food, and thus enters the organism in larger quantities.

It has long been suggested that high levels of iron in the blood increase the risk of cancer . However, this theory has not yet been proven by studies.

6. Theory 2: BMMF make meat unhealthy

Scientists working with Nobel laureate Harald zur Hausen believe they have found another cause: a previously unknown class of pathogens is responsible for the increased risk of colon cancer .

These “Bovine Milk and Meat Factors (BMMF)” enter the human intestines through the consumption of meat and dairy products from European cattle. There it comes to a chronic inflammation, which indirectly promotes the development of colon cancer.

7. Avoiding meat protects the intestines

Vegetarian foods contain fiber, which has a positive effect on the microbiome in the gut. Vegans have a particularly large number of them. In addition to fruit and vegetables, lactic acid foods such as yogurt also support the intestinal flora. Vegetarians often consume these. Researchers from the University of New York have confirmed that vegans and vegetarians have more protective types of gut bacteria than meat eaters.

Meat also poses a cancer risk through its preparation and processing: for example, when meat is heated up, several potentially harmful substances are formed at the same time, including so-called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs); curing also produces nitrosamines. These substances can promote the development of cancer, and above all they increase the risk of colon cancer. Methods such as curing and intense heating are particularly used for industrially processed meat, such as sausage and ham. Accordingly, processed meat products are particularly unhealthy.

8. Avoiding meat makes you slim

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Cognitive and Neurosciences (MPI CBS) and the Leipzig University Hospital examined almost 9,000 people, what connections there are between body and mind on the one hand and not consuming animal products on the other. regardless of age, gender and level of education. The study was published in June 2020 in the specialist magazine “Nutrients”.

The result of the physical impact: the less food of animal origin was on the menu, the lower the average body mass index (BMI) and thus the body weight. “Products that are excessively high in fat and sugar make you fat. They stimulate the appetite and delay the feeling of satiety. If you do without animal foods, you eat fewer such products on average, ”explains Evelyn Medawar, first author of the work.

9. Avoiding meat and the psyche

With regard to the psychological effects of the meatless diet, the Leipzig study found no particular susceptibility to neuroses in vegetarians. The study director Veronica Witte says: “Previous analyzes had found that more neurotic people generally leave out certain food groups more often. We focused solely on avoiding animal products and could not observe any correlation. ”No connection was found between a predominantly plant-based diet and depressive moods. There was evidence of this in previous studies.

However, the researchers found a difference in one of the determining factors of personality: the extroversion or introversion. People with predominantly plant-based foods on the menu are more introverted than those who eat primarily animal products. The study authors have not yet found an explanation for this.

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Magnesium is vital – you need to look out for it to stay healthyMagnesium is vital – you need to look out for it to stay healthy

Magnesium is involved in hundreds of different processes in the body. Therefore, the symptoms of a magnesium deficiency can be different. What surprising signs are possible, who is particularly at risk and how you can intelligently compensate for a magnesium deficiency.

Magnesium is particularly well known in connection with magnesium deficiency and cramps. This applies to nocturnal calf cramps, but also massive cramps in athletes. But this important role that magnesium takes on for well-functioning muscles, only reflects a tiny aspect of its very broad spectrum of activity with diverse, vital functions.

What is magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral and belongs to the group of metals. This mineral is essential. This means that the body cannot produce magnesium itself, but the mineral is vital and must therefore be supplied with the diet. It is then absorbed through the intestinal walls and gets into the blood. Any excess is excreted through the kidneys with the urine. High fat foods, oxalates and phosphates can slow down the absorption of magnesium in the intestine.

Around 25 grams of magnesium are present in the organism (in a person weighing 70 kilograms). A good half is in the bones, a little less in the muscles and only one percent in the blood. The bones also act as magnesium stores. However, the magnesium content in bones decreases over the course of life.

In addition, minerals are divided into bulk and trace elements. Magnesium is one of the bulk elements because the body needs relatively large amounts of it, unlike trace elements such as iodine and copper.

Why Magnesium is Vital

Magnesium is involved in the activation of over 300 enzymes in the body, including in the protein structure. The mineral takes on decisive tasks for energy and cell metabolism and regulates many vital functions, including:

  • Impulse transmission in muscle and nerve cells, magnesium ensures normal conduction of excitation in nerves and muscles. In connection with nerves, magnesium also supports brain functions and via the muscles, for example, the heart muscle. Adequate magnesium intake even seems to reduce the risk of sudden cardiac death, a study suggests.
  • Magnesium influences the heart rhythm and blood pressure.
  • It relaxes muscles, nerves and blood vessels and can reduce the production of stress hormones. This normalization of the excitability of nerves and the vascular tension is probably responsible for the fact that with an adequate supply of magnesium, among other things, the number of migraine attacks demonstrably decreases, as the analysis of several studies showed.
  • Magnesium can reduce the clumping of blood platelets, so it can support normal blood clotting. The risk of having a stroke decreases when the body receives enough magnesium, further research shows .
  • It is involved in the utilization of glucose and in blood sugar control. The risk of type 2 diabetes has been shown to decrease if the mineral is taken in sufficiently.
  • Magnesium is an important antagonist of calcium, prevents too much calcium from being stored, for example in muscles, but also vessels and organs. Magnesium can prevent the formation of kidney stones, which often consist of calcium oxalate.
  • In addition, magnesium can neutralize too much stomach acid somewhat and thus reduce the risk of heartburn.
  • In conjunction with calcium and vitamin D, magnesium controls the bone metabolism. Among other things, magnesium supports the activation of vitamin D in the kidneys. Magnesium is therefore an important factor in preventing osteoporosis. Already existing osteoporosis could be slowed down somewhat by adequate intake, as a study suggests.
  • The mineral regulates important messenger substances that also play a role in the mental mood. Studies show that magnesium can have a similar effect on mild depression as certain antidepressants , the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). 

Overall, these and similar studies provide strong indications that an adequate supply of magnesium, including through dietary supplements, is associated with a lower risk of numerous common diseases.

At 20, 40, 60 and 70 years: how to eat healthily at any ageAt 20, 40, 60 and 70 years: how to eat healthily at any age

Sometimes the body needs more protein, sometimes more carbohydrates and after a certain age it should be less overall. If you want to eat healthily for a lifetime, you should always keep an eye on your age when shopping and cooking.

According to today’s recommendations, a healthy diet consists of plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit, good oils, as little industrially processed food as possible, economical consumption of animal products, white flour and sugar – from children to old people.

So there is only healthy and unhealthy diet, but no age-related diet. But: Over the years and depending on the situation in life, the need and utilization of nutrients change. And here age definitely plays a role. For example, the nutritionists at the University of California in San Diego have put together an overview of what to look out for .

This is what matters from 20 to 40:

The basal metabolic rate is highest in young adults, which means that the body consumes the most calories even without physical activity. At this age, many people can “eat what they want” without getting fat. At least at this age, the body forgives a few fast-food orgies and other antics.

In general, it is important to build up muscles, bones and connective tissue between the ages of 20 and 30 , also with the help of a sensible diet. Everyone can benefit from this basis in later years, when it is no longer so easy to maintain fitness.

In these years, special attention to nutrition requires more of a life circumstance for women: pregnancy.

Special dietary instructions for young pregnant women only

In addition to a diet full of high-quality nutrients and the natural avoidance of tobacco and alcohol , it is important to ensure an optimal supply of vitamins, minerals and trace elements so that the child develops well. Eating for two, on the other hand, is completely unnecessary and wrong.

Therefore, all expectant mothers should take folic acid in the first 3 months of pregnancy . Iodine tablets can also be useful. And vegans also have to pay attention to a number of micronutrients that they lack by avoiding animal foods: iron, zinc , calcium, vitamins B12, B2 and D as well as an appropriate intake of omega-3 fatty acids.

This is important from 40:

From the age of 40, the metabolism begins to slow down. While the body can usually break down too much sugar and carbohydrates by the age of 30, it loses this ability by the age of 40 at the latest. Suddenly, an unchanged diet is reflected in the stomach and hips.

Anyone who is only now finding an adequate diet can still set the course for a healthy future.

Anyone who has already eaten reasonably healthy should now pay more attention to the following elements:

  • Fruits and vegetables in bright colors – the antioxidants they contain act as cell protection with an antiaging effect in the body.
  • more whole grains on the menu
  • a (small) portion of red meat twice a week – good for building muscle , also important for women because of the prevention of iron deficiency
  • Vegetarians should pay particular attention to green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale or Swiss chard.

Here are some things to watch out for in your 50s and 60s:

Now begins a dangerous age for cardiovascular problems such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Anyone who has neglected their diet and has not taken much exercise must expect type 2 diabetes .

It is now important to have a diet that keeps the blood sugar level stable and prevents deposits in the blood vessels. It should be low in cholesterol, high in fiber and slowly digestible carbohydrates, so:

  • lots of vegetables
  • little animal fat
  • no sugared soft drinks
  • little white flour products

In addition:

  • nuts
  • Good oils (olive, flaxseed)
  • Fish (omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D)
  • Low-fat dairy products (calcium)

Changes in hormones accelerate the loss of calcium from the bones. The substitution of calcium plus vitamin D can now counteract the threat of osteoporosis . Because of the breakdown of estrogen during menopause , it occurs earlier and more frequently in women. But bone loss threatens men too.

An omega-3 supplement can benefit heart health if someone doesn’t eat sea fish. Omega-3 fatty acids stabilize the blood vessels.

Proper nutrition with 70 plus:

With age, various physiological and psychological changes occur that directly affect nutritional needs. The taste buds and appetite decrease, as does the desire to cook freshly and by yourself.

The body is less able to absorb and use many vitamins and minerals. With age, the digestive juices in the stomach change, reducing the absorption of iron, calcium, and vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid.

Long-term use of prescription drugs can decrease the absorption of certain nutrients.

Less calories, but not less nutrients

Seniors need fewer calories than younger people, but no fewer nutrients. Protein becomes important again in old age: it can delay muscle loss in old age, especially when combined with strength training.

As a rule of thumb, one gram of protein per kilogram of body weight per day . However, it should not be exclusively protein from meat, as it promotes inflammation, especially in the joints.

Because digestion becomes sluggish with age, fiber is important for the 70+ generation. A teaspoon of psyllium husks are a recommended alternative to the vegetables or whole grains that would be necessary for an optimal supply. To do this, seniors have to drink plenty, even if that is difficult for many.

Tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins: medical professionals are sure that vegetables make us sickTomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins: medical professionals are sure that vegetables make us sick

Grains and vegetables protect themselves against predators and diseases with special substances. They are unsuitable for human digestion and make us sick, says a US nutritionist. Is he right?

According to popular belief, those who eat vegetables, fruit and whole grain products every day have a particularly healthy diet – and thus possibly make a dangerous mistake, get fat and sick. The American cardiologist and nutritionist Steven R. Gundry is convinced of this, as he explains in his bestseller “The Plant Paradox”, which has also been available as a German version since this year (Steven R. Gundry: “Bad vegetables. How healthy Food makes us sick ”, Beltz).

Vegetable plants use lectins for defense

Lectins are said to be responsible for the harmful effects of supposedly healthy foods. These are certain proteins that plants have developed for defense so that they are spared from fungi, bacteria and parasites. In fact, lectins act similarly to antibiotics and can be toxic, especially when raw.

The substances can harm people

Lectins make green potatoes and raw beans inedible . The best-known lectin is gluten, avoided by many because it can lead to bowel inflammation and celiac disease . Gluten, known as adhesive protein, illustrates the negative properties of lectins particularly impressively: These proteins are extremely easy to bond, stick to cells and tissues, preferably in the intestine. The mucous membrane cells change, the intestinal wall becomes permeable for pollutants, which in turn can make the entire organism sick.

Sick from lectins – from Alzheimer’s to rheumatism

But not only celiac disease is caused by the harmful effects of lectins. The proteins bind to red blood cells, thicken the blood and thus promote arteriosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases. Steven Gundry also explains many other diseases of civilization with the negative effects of lectins.

Because they can actually dock on all tissues, such as the pancreas, joints, bronchi, nerves, brain, and the immune system attacks them there as intruders, autoimmune diseases would develop: diabetes , arthritis and rheumatism, asthma , Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s .

These foods are high in lectins

The doctor therefore promotes a diet that is as free from lectins as possible (LFE, lectin-free diet). The negative list of foods rich in lectin includes the following products:

  • loaf
  • Potatoes and potato products
  • rice
  • pasta
  • Beans and legumes
  • soy
  • tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • pumpkin
  • Grain
  • Vegetable oils
  • sugar

Steven Gundry also largely avoids fish and meat, or at least restricts consumption – because breeding animals are mainly fed with corn and soy. Both types of food naturally contain lectins. If they are genetically modified, however, they provide even more of it to protect the plants from pests even better. With the feed they get into the animal and thus into the meat that is put on the plate.

How to eat a lectin-free diet

The negative list is long, but there are also a number of foods that contain little or no lectins. The positive list of desirable foods suggests, among other things:

  • Coconut oil
  • Coconut milk
  • Hazelnuts
  • Walnuts
  • Sweet chestnuts
  • Olives
  • Tigernut flour, chestnut flour
  • Dark chocolate
  • cream cheese
  • Goat cheese
  • butter
  • cream
  • Crustaceans, fish (rare)
  • certain types of fruit in small quantities (apples, pears, blueberries, raspberries, kiwi, plums, peaches, citrus fruits)
  • Cabbage vegetables of all kinds
  • artichokes
  • garlic
  • Onions
  • Meat (no more than 125 gr per day)
  • Eggs
  • Sweeteners such as erythritol, stevia, xylitol
  • 1 glass of red wine per day

Of course, all products should come from organic cultivation or rearing if possible, i.e. have the best organic quality.

Lectin-free diet – new fad diet or serious prevention and therapy?

At first glance, the impression arises: after fructose, gluten and carbohydrates, lectins are now supposed to be the bad nutrients that lead to obesity and make you sick. But the impression is deceptive. Steven Gundry’s observations should probably be taken seriously. There is some evidence for his theses:

  • It has long been known that lectins are unfavorable and are therefore even referred to as ” anti-nutrients ” in nutritional science . But this fact has had little impact on nutrition plans and diets until now.
  • Initial studies show that lectins can be linked to rheumatism and Parkinson’s disease .

However, there is (still) a lack of larger studies on the extent to which lectins can promote obesity and illness. However, in a self-experiment, Steven Gundry lost 35 kilograms within a year and at the same time lowered his high blood pressure , and the arthritis had also disappeared.

The doctor treated around 1,000 patients on the basis of these positive experiences with the LFE. He observed 200 of them as part of a study . For six months, the patients who all had cardiovascular diseases such as coronary artery disease ate according to this diet. After completing the examination, her heart function and blood values ​​had improved significantly.

Conclusion: It should definitely not be a fashion diet. However, LFE cannot be easily integrated into everyday life, the usual nutrition plan has to be fundamentally redesigned. But to make this as uncomplicated as possible, the doctor gives many tips and simple to fine recipes in his new guide on “bad vegetables”.