Drinking and smoking are injurious to health. If you haven’t already learnt that in school then you must have seen the warnings in literally every movie ever. But, a recent study suggests thatsmokersand drinkers who are vegetarian could be healthier than most meat-eaters.
Advantages of being a vegetarian
A research team at the University of Glasgow launched the study to investigate the health benefitsthat the two different diets propose. They analysed blood and urine samples of 177,723 participants from the UK. 4,111 were vegetarians, while the rest were non-vegetarian. They used 19 different biomarkers to compare the benefits of both the diets, including low bad cholesterol, liver functions associated with inflammation, and a hormone that stimulates cancer cell growth.
Additionally, they took into account other influential factors like age, sex, education, ethnicity, obesity, and smoking and alcohol intake. Of the 19 biomarkers, the team found that vegetarians had substantially lower levels in 13 biomarkers, despite smoking and alcohol consumption. Dr. Carlos Celis-Morales from the University of Glasgow explains:
As well as not eating red and processed meat which have been linked to heart diseases and some cancers, people who follow a vegetarian diet tend to consume more vegetables, fruits, and nuts which contain more nutrients, fibre, and other potentially beneficial compounds.
These nutritional differences may help explain why vegetarians appear to have lower levels of disease biomarkers that can lead to cell damage and chronic disease.
Although the advantages heavily outweigh the disadvantages, the team has noted that theirvegetarianparticipants also tested low for a few biomarkers which were especially essential for joint and bone health—such as good cholesterol, and vitamin C and D.
All in all, the results have been astonishing to the scientific community. However, the team has mentioned that as of now the findings are only observational. Amy Gorin, plant-based dietician says:
I look forward to seeing similar studies completed, so we can have a larger body of research backing up these benefits.