Some people are drawn to the plant-based lifestyle for the impact it makes on protecting the environment and some to avoid harming animals. Most of us hope that we also may derive some health benefits from skipping animal products, even if it is occasionally hard on holidays and travel to find appropriate meals. You are probably aware that plant-based diets have been shown to prevent and reverse heart disease and patients may actually get their insurance plans to pay for education programs teaching these diets. There are new data that further reinforce the argument that eating only fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes is optimal for your health. Here are 8 new reasons to never eat meat.
- Type 2 Diabetes: In a long term study from Finland of over 2,000 men followed over 19 years, replacing even 1% of calories from animal proteins with plant proteins lowered the risk of developing diabetes by 18%.
- Liver disease: A growing health concern is called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease or NAFLD. In an analysis of over 3,000 subjects in the Netherlands, increased dietary proteins from animal sources (meat) were associated with a greater risk (reaching 50% higher) of developing NAFLD.
- Asthma: In a study of processed red meat consumption and asthma symptoms, eating cured red meat over 4 times a week increased the odds of having worsened asthma by 76%.
- Colon Cancer: The world was caught off guard in October, 2015 when the World Health Organization announced their results of a comprehensive analysis demonstrating that processed red meats like bacon and hot dogs cause colorectal cancer. In a more recent analysis, 400 studies were examined. They found that the risk of colorectal cancer increased by 12% for each 100 gm/day eaten of red and processed meats. Whole grains and vegetables decreased the risk.
- Depression: In an analysis of 21 studies examining diet and depression, eating red and processed meats increased the risk of depression by over 25% while fruits and vegetables had the opposite relationship.
- Stomach cancer: Researchers combined 42 studies relating diet to stomach cancer and found that higher intake of red meat increased the risk by 70% while processed red meat increased it by 80% over those that shunned meats.
- Head and neck cancer: In a study from the Netherlands of over 120,000 subjects followed for over 20 years, consumption of processed red meat was associated with developing cancers of the head and neck. The risk was increased as much as 50% compare to the low or non-meat eaters studied.
- Gestational diabetes: Developing diabetes during pregnancy, known as gestational diabetes, can complicate pregnancies and have an impact on the health of the offspring. In a recent analysis, the highest red meat consumption of any kind increased the risk of gestational diabetes by over 2 fold. Once again, processed red meat also increased the risk by about double over low meat eaters.
Avoiding meat is one of the most important health decisions you can make. Whether meat comes from cows raised on grass or corn, whether you know the farmer or not, meat is an inflammatory food that inherently has a chemical structure that drives reactions in the body that promote cancer growth. Unlike the new data that the more servings of fruit and vegetables you eat, the more likely you will avoid chronic diseases and delay death, eating meat has the opposite result, leading to disease and early death. These 8 new medical observations should keep you on track for a long and healthy life.