Saturday, January 22

How to reduce meat in your diet improves your body


Betting on a lower consumption of meat and a higher intake of whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables, is a beneficial scheme for health and key in the prevention of chronic diseases.

Photo: Photo Eiliv Aceron / Pexels

Everything has been said about the consequences of meat consumptionIt is an aspect that is not only related to a health issue: it is decisive for the environment. Globally, food is responsible for a quarter of human greenhouse gas emissions and much of this is due to livestock. In addition, what we eat also has consequences for our health, which is why in recent years a strong comparison has emerged between the benefits of following a plant-based diet and those who consume meat on a recurring basis. Experts also refer to the optimal health of humans, animals and the environment from a ‘One Health’ perspective. Recently, a study led by the Development Research Center (ZEF) at the University of Bonn in Germany came to light. This research work was published in the journal Science of the Total Environment and focused on the nutritional issue to understand the complex effects of meat consumption on health, animals and the environment.

According to the experts, the basis of the study began with an analysis of the products found in the basic food basket of people in North Ranania-Westphalia. Then, they compared that reference diet to three different scenarios: the first change was in accordance with the recommendations of the German Nutrition Society (DGE), the second change to a Mediterranean diet with more fish and shellfish and the third change focused on a vegan diet scheme.

In each of these three scenarios, the foods were chosen to differ as little as possible from the reference diet. As an example: in the Mediterranean version, the proportion of fish, shellfish, vegetables and cereal-based products increased. In addition, the general selection of products had to contain the same nutrients in amounts similar to the previous ones. This gave the researchers a food basket for each scenario, which they then analyzed further.

According to statements by one of the study authors, Dr. Neus Escobar from the Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria: “To do this, we relied on various databases. They allowed us, for example, estimate the impact of each diet on certain environmental aspects, such as the amount of greenhouse gases produced during its production or the consumption of water. We take a similar approach to assessing the health impact of each diet. ” Red meat, for example, is known to increase the risk of certain cancers and cardiovascular diseases.

The researchers estimated the consequences for animal welfare using various indicators. The main ones included: how many animals lose their lives as a result of food consumption and under what conditions they are kept. They also used very relevant data such as the number of neurons or the size of the brain in relation to the body to estimate to what extent the respective animals suffer.

Among the main findings, it was discovered that any of the three diets would be beneficial in a sustainable way from the perspective of “One health.” However, this also comes at the expense of other aspects. The vegan diet performed better in many areas. However, we cannot rule out that the production of vegan food implies a higher consumption of water. Additionally, vegans need to consume certain nutrients separately, such as vitamin B12, vitamin D, and even calcium.

For its part, The Mediterranean diet (although healthy) also results in increased water requirements due to the large amount of nuts and vegetables. Furthermore, if, as assumed in the study, the meat consumed is completely replaced by fish, its effects on animal welfare are surprisingly negative: as fish and shellfish are much smaller than, for example, cows or pigs , considerably more animals suffer as a result of this diet.

Increasing honey consumption, which requires intensive management of bee colonies, also has a negative impact. Therefore, what would really be beneficial is meeting less of the general needs for animal protein. Also, many people today have diets that are significantly too high in animal protein. Therefore, if they reduce the amount of food they eat to what they really need, it could have additional positive effects focused on health and the environment.

According to the study, the DGE’s recommendations go in the right direction. However, in terms of human health, the other two options are better. However, the data here also shows: if people decrease their meat consumption more frequently and instead choose to increase the consumption of whole grains, vegetables and fruits on their plate, You are not only doing something good for your health and life expectancy, but also for the animals and the environment.

In addition, we cannot fail to mention the health consequences associated with a high consumption of red and processed meat. There are several studies in which it has been shown that it increases the risk of suffering from chronic inflammation, developing metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, obesity, arthritis and depression; just to mention a few. While it is not about demonizing meat consumption, It is important to view your intake as an occasional treat and learn to enjoy other plant-based foods. Remember that good health is in balance and conscious enjoyment of life.

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