Science

Vegetarians who drink and smoke appear to be healthier than meat-eaters, study finds


Vegetarians who drink and smoke appear to be healthier than meat-eaters because they have lower levels of cholesterol and inflammation and are less likely to develop cancer, study finds

  • Vegetarians are  healthier than  meat-eaters even if they drink alcohol or smoke
  • The findings stem from an analysis of more than 177,000 people
  • Experts found vegetarians have lower cholesterol and inflammation
  • All of which wards of negative effects of smoking and drink alcohol
  • However, vegetarians have less vitamins that keep bones and joints healthy 

Vegetarians who smoke and drink alcohol appear to be healthier than their meat-eating counterparts, a new study finds.

The statement comes from the University of Glasgow, which found vegetarians have a healthier biomarker profile that includes lower levels of cholesterol, inflammation and a hormone that encourages cancer growth.

Researchers found these biomarkers help ward off negative effects associated with smoking and consuming alcohol, regardless of age and weight in adults, along with illnesses like kidney failure.

However, the team notes that the average vegetarian has lower levels of vitamins linked to bone and joint health, along with a ‘significantly’ higher level of fats.

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Vegetarians who smoke and drink alcohol appear to be healthier than their meat-eating counterparts, a new study finds

Vegetarians who smoke and drink alcohol appear to be healthier than their meat-eating counterparts, a new study finds

Eating nothing but fruits and vegetables has become a popular way of living worldwide, with more than 300 million around the globe who have sworn off eating meat.

And the new study dove deeper to see what health benefits the specific diet provides.

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Researchers analyzed blood and urine of 177,723 ‘healthy participants in the UK, who reported no major changes in diet over the last five years, according to EurekAlert.

Approximately 4,111 participants identified as vegetarian and 166,516 reporting consuming meat.

The statement comes from the University of Glasgow, which found vegetarians have a healthier biomarker profile that includes lower levels of cholesterol, inflammation and a hormone that encourages cancer growth

The statement comes from the University of Glasgow, which found vegetarians have a healthier biomarker profile that includes lower levels of cholesterol, inflammation and a hormone that encourages cancer growth

The team examined the association with 19 blood and urine biomarkers related to diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, liver, bone and joint health and kidney function.

Even after accounting for potentially influential factors including age, sex, education, ethnicity, obesity, smoking, and alcohol intake, the analysis found that compared to meat-eaters, vegetarians had significantly lower levels of 13 biomarkers.

This includes low ‘bad cholesterol,’ liver function markers linked to inflammation or cell damage and a hormone that encourages cancer cell growth, along with low levels of creatinine and protein that are known for worsening kidney function.

Although these markers are ideal for protecting people from developing illnesses, being a vegetarian does a have downside.

These individuals tested low for a number of biomarkers including ‘good cholesterol’ and vitamin D and C, which are necessary for bone and joint health.

However, the team notes that the average vegetarian has lower levels of vitamins linked to bone and joint health, along with a ‘significantly’ higher level of fats than those that consume meat

However, the team notes that the average vegetarian has lower levels of vitamins linked to bone and joint health, along with a ‘significantly’ higher level of fats than those that consume meat

Dr. Carlos Celis-Morales from the University of Glasgow, UK, said: ‘Our findings offer real food for thought.

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‘As well as not eating red and processed meat which have been linked to heart diseases and some cancers, people who follow a vegetarian diet tend to consume more vegetables, fruits, and nuts which contain more nutrients, fibre, and other potentially beneficial compounds.

‘These nutritional differences may help explain why vegetarians appear to have lower levels of disease biomarkers that can lead to cell damage and chronic disease.’

The authors point out that although their study was large, it was observational, so no conclusions can be drawn about direct cause and effect.

How does eating meat and dairy products hurt the environment? 

Eating meat, eggs and dairy products hurts the environment in a number of different ways.

Cows, pigs and other farm animals release huge amounts of methane into the atmosphere. While there is less methane in the atmosphere than other greenhouse gases, it is around 25 times more effective than carbon dioxide at trapping heat.

Raising livestock also means converting forests into agricultural land, meaning CO2-absorbing trees are being cut down, further adding to climate change. More trees are cut down to convert land for crop growing, as around a third of all grain produced in the world is used to feed animals raised for human consumption. 

Factory farms and crop growing also requires massive amounts of water, with 542 litres of water being used to produce just a single chicken breast.

As well as this, the nitrogen-based fertiliser used on crops adds to nitrous oxide emissions. Nitrous oxide is around 300 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere. These fertilisers can also end up in rivers, further adding to pollution.

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Overall, studies have shown that going vegetarian can reduce your carbon emissions from food by half. Going vegan can reduce this further still. 

 



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