(Health Secrets) The common wisdom says vegetarians are more healthy than meat eaters. But a blockbuster new study from Austria which is sure to send shock waves and generate massive denials among vegetarians has concluded that people who eat only vegetables are less healthy in key health categories and have a poorer quality of life than people who include some meat in their diets.
Among the study findings:
- Vegetarians visit their doctors more often and are more prone to allergies
- They have a 50% increased risk of both heart attacks and cancer
- They are more likely to develop depression and anxiety disorders
The study did find that vegetarians had some significant health advantages, such as being more physically active, drinking less alcohol and smoking less tobacco, however vegetarians’ health overall was deemed to be unhealthy compared to those who included some meat in their diets.
Avoiding meat entirely often leads to nutritional deficiencies
Meats contain some essential nutrients that either are not found in vegetables or are found in very small amounts. Though it is possible for vegetarians to be very healthy if they plan well and supplement well, apparently most do not do so. As a result, many who avoid meat entirely are often deficient in essential nutrients which are needed for optimum health.
The most glaring example of nutritional deficiencies in non-meat eaters is vitamin B12 deficiency. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2009 found that a whopping 90% of vegetarians were deficient in vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that helps keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy and helps make DNA, the genetic material in all cells.
Other benefits of adequate vitamin B12 include:
- Protection against cancer
- Reduction in depression, stress and brain shrinkage
- Maintenance of a healthy digestive system
- Reduction of fatigue
- Healthy skin, hair and nails
Details of the new study
The study was conducted by researchers at the Medical University of Graz in Austria and was published in PLOS ONE. It was a cross-sectional study from Austrian Health Interview Survey data which examined participants’ dietary habits, demographic characteristics and general lifestyle differences.
Participants were divided into four groups:
- Carnivorous diet rich in fruits and vegetables
- Carnivorous diet less rich in meat
- Carnivorous diet rich in meat
Those in the “Carnivorous diet less rich in meat” came out on top in more measured categories than any other group, though other groups scored higher in some individual health categories.
The researchers concluded “Our study has shown that Austrian adults who consume a vegetarian diet are less healthy (in terms of cancer, allergies, and mental health disorders), have a lower quality of life, and also require more medical treatment.”
Perhaps the best conclusion is that some meat, but not too much meat, is needed for a healthy diet. The study failed to distinguish between vegetarian and vegan. It should go without saying that, when you do consume meat, choose healthy meats such as organic, free-range, grass-fed beef; cage-free organic chicken; and wild-caught fish. Avoid non-organic, processed meat products, meat subject to feed lot practices and farmed fish.
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Photo by skampy