When people engage in activities detrimental to health, they often hear warnings from health professionals, government health agencies, and of course, loved ones. Fast food addicts are urged to include more whole foods in their diet, cigarette smokers are warned of the terrible diseases they may one day have to endure due to their habit, and soon, we may hear doctors begin to inform patients that meat literally ages you. According to a new study published in the scientific journal Aging, titled “Accelerated Ageing and Renal Dysfunction Links Lower Socioeconomic Status and Dietary Phosphate Intake,” scientists have found that consuming too much meat and not enough fruits and vegetables, in addition to contributing to a range of health problems, could increase the body’s “biological age.” To put it in perspective, the experts define biological age as more like the “miles on the clock” while chronological age is simply a person’s years of age.

So, what causes this? Simply put: high serum phosphate levels. Phosphate is naturally present in many basic foodstuffs, including meats, fish, eggs, dairy products, and vegetables, and do not reach dangerous levels if these food groups are consumed moderately. However, high serum phosphate intake as a result of red meat consumption has been linked to higher mortality risk, kidney disease, and premature vascular ageing. The study, conducted by a team at the University of Glasgow, found that males who don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables but consume a lot of meat are particularly at risk.

Advertisement

Although the World Health Organization (WHO) specifically stressed last year that consuming red meat is not on the same danger level as smoking cigarettes, since smoking increases the risk of lung cancer by 20 fold while eating meat only raises the risk of bowel cancer by 18 percent, there are still many similarities between the two. We’ve all heard the warnings given to cigarette smokers about how they are shaving days or even years off their life,  how they’re causing themselves to age faster, and how their habit will literally change their appearance. Aren’t these all of the same things happening to meat eaters? And yet, organizations like WHO do not want to come off as comparing the two side by side, when maybe we should be if we don’t want meat to become the next cigarette, a path it already seems to be going down.

The good news is that in light of these risks, we’re already starting to see meat consumption decline, with overall consumption down by a third since the early 1970s. As Nil Zacharias, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of One Green Planet stated, “These trends are being driven by people broadly understanding how diet affects their health, concerns around the use of hormones and antibiotics in producing meat, the treatment animals in factory farms, and how food choices have a very real impact on the planet.”

As more people wake up the fact that high meat consumption can be detrimental to their own health – as well as the health of the planet, they’re looking for more plant-based options. The good news is there is an abundance of meat alternatives on the market that can satisfy any palate. Hey, getting to eat delicious food that also can give you age-defying vitality – not such a shabby deal, huh?

Looking for some awesome plant-based recipes to get you started? Check out One Green Planet’s Food Monster app and dive in.

Image Source: grassrootsgroundswell/Flickr