If you’re a proponent of vegetarianism, here’s another study that supports the benefits of a non-meat diet. If you’re a meat-eater, read this too because there is food for thought.
“Vegetarianism is healthier for your body” — that is an argument made by some vegetarians. There have been studies that support and other studies that don’t support this statement.
Is vegetarianism really healthier for your body?
A recent study by researchers from the University of Glasgow in the UK is in the camp of the former. It seems people who are vegetarians have healthier biomarkers in their bodies than meat-eaters.
What are Biomarkers?
Biomarkers, as you can tell from the name, are markers of some biological state or condition in your body. They show what biological processes has happened or is happening in your body.
Biomarkers can have bad and good health effects, promoting or preventing cancer, cardiovascular and age-related diseases, and other chronic conditions. Biomarkers have been widely used to assess the effect of diets on health.
The study analyzed data from 177,723 healthy participants (aged 37-73 years) in a database called the UK Biobank. These people had reported no major change in their diet over the last five years.
The participants were categorized as either vegetarians (4,111 participants do not eat red meat, poultry or fish) or meat-eaters (166,516 participants).
The researchers looked at data from 19 blood and urine biomarkers related to diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, liver, bone and joint health, and kidney function.
Lower Levels of ‘Bad’ Biomarkers
The study showed that vegetarian had lower levels of these biomarkers that indicated bad health effects:
–low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the so-called “bad cholesterol”;
–apolipoprotein A (linked to cardiovascular disease);
–apolipoprotein B (linked to cardiovascular disease);
–gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT) and alanine aminotransferase (AST), these are liver function markers indicating inflammation or damage to cells;
–insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) is a hormone that encourages the growth and proliferation of cancer cells);
–urate, total protein, and creatinine (these are markers of worsening kidney function).
Lower levels of these biomarkers showed a healthier biological state in the bodies of the vegetarians. This was also after variables that could affect the biomarker levels such as age, sex, education, ethnicity, obesity, smoking, and alcohol intake were factored in the analysis.
This study was presented at the 2021 European Congress on Obesity (ECO) held online.
Food for Thoughts
Meat-lovers can still have their say in this study. This was an observation study, so no cause and effect can be concluded. Also, the biomarker samples were only test once for each participant. It is possible that biomarkers might fluctuate depending on factors unrelated to diet, such as existing diseases and unmeasured lifestyle factors.
However, the study sample is large and the observations clearly show healthier levels of biomarkers in vegetarians compared to meat-eaters.
If you’re vegetarian, know there is another study to support your diet choice as being healthy.