High Protein, Meat-Based Diets Mean Higher Mortality Rate, Study Says
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The study found that men and women who eat a high protein diet which consisted of a high percentage of meat and cheese, had a higher risk of early death. The study found, on the other hand, that those that eat a high protein diet which consisted of mostly plant-based protein had a lower risk than average of early death.
The study holds a lot of weight because it was far-reaching and included more than 85,000 women and 44,500 men studied for a period of 20 to 26 years. Lifestyle factors like alcohol intake, exercise, and multivitamin use were taken into account as well and the participants all started with a clean bill of health--no cancer, diabetes, or heart disease.
According to the study:
A low-carbohydrate diet based on animal sources was associated with higher all-cause mortality in both men and women, whereas a vegetable-based low-carbohydrate diet was associated with lower all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality rates.
Increased cancer mortality was most prevalent in colorectal and lung cancer. But this is really no surprise to me. The increase in colorectal cancer is the most obvious. If you've ever gone on a traditional Atkins Diet full of meats and cheeses you'll likely remember a certain quality of the diet, your inability to go to the bathroom. Meat and cheese without whole grains, fruits, and an abundance of vegetables constipate you and make you feel all clogged up. The key to good health is good digestion because without it, things can't keep moving through your system and toxins build up, causing disease. That's why dietary fiber is so important to our health. Higher protein diets based on plant proteins like beans, lentils, and nuts are not only lower in fat and sodium, but they're higher in dietary fiber.
What's more, the more meat and processed cheeses you eat, the more the body must ingest the hormones, antibiotics, and other chemicals that go along with them. The bottom line--more and more people are realizing that a plant-based diet is better for you and the planet.
Sara Novak is a writer specializing in food, travel, and nature for Planet Green and TreeHugger.