- The Facts:A recent study conducted by researchers in California and France found that meat protein is associated with a very sharp increased risk of heart disease, while protein from nuts and seeds is actually beneficial for the human heart.
- Reflect On:There are multiple studies linking consumption of animal products to several diseases, and plant foods to the reversal and prevention of them. Does this suggest our biology is not designed to eat animal products?
Are humans supposed to eat meat and consume animal products? If you look into it, you may be surprised. Take milk, for example. The majority of people on the planet are lactose intolerant for a reason. In some parts of the world, lactose intolerance is 90 to 100 percent.(source) Humans are the only species to drink milk after weaning and the only species to drink the milk of another animal. Have we been fooled by big food marketing? Why are global food guides changing to a more plant-based foundation? It’s because things are changing.
The reason why I have a hard time believing that humans are meant to consume meat and animal products is because there’s so much science proving this. Meat eating of all kinds is linked to a variety of diseases. Some of the latest information to emerge in this area compares protein from meat and protein from plant-based sources, suggesting that plant-based protein is much healthier.
A recent study conducted by researchers in California and France found that meat protein is associated with a very sharp increased risk of heart disease, while protein from nuts and seeds is actually beneficial for the human heart.
The study is titled “Patterns of plant and animal protein intake are strongly associated with cardiovascular mortality: The Adventist Health Study-2 cohort,” It was a joint project between researchers from Loma Linda University School of Public Health in California and AgroParisTech and the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique in Paris, France.
It was published in the International Journal of Epidemiology. The researchers found that people who ate large amounts of meat protein, which is a daily norm for many people, represented a portion of the human population that would experience a 60 percent increase in cardiovascular disease (CVD), while people who consumed large amounts of protein from nuts and seeds actually experienced a 40 percent reduction in CVD.
81,000 participants were analyzed for this study. According to Gary Fraser, MB, ChB, PhD, from Loma Linda University, and François Mariotti, PhD, from AgroParisTech and the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, who served as the co-principal investigators:
“Dietary fats are part of the story in affecting risk of cardiovascular disease, proteins may also have important and largely overlooked independent effects on risk.”
The authors emphasized that they, as well as their colleagues, have long suspected that the protein from nuts and seeds in the diet protects against heart and vascular disease, while protein from meat, especially red meats, increases your risk.
Fraser said the study leaves other questions open for further investigation, such as the particular amino acids in meat proteins that contribute to CVD. Another is whether proteins from particular sources affect cardiac risk factors such as blood lipids, blood pressure and overweight, which are associated with CVD.
While underconsumption of protein is harmful to the body, overconsumption comes with risks as well. In the United States, the average omnivore gets more than 1.5 times the optimal amount of protein, and most of that protein is from animal sources. This is bad news because excess protein is often stored as fat. This stored animal protein contributes to weight gain, heart disease, diabetes, inflammation, and cancer.
The study concluded that:
Associations between the ‘Meat’ and ‘Nuts & Seeds’ protein factors and cardiovascular outcomes were strong and could not be ascribed to other associated nutrients considered to be important for cardiovascular health. Healthy diets can be advocated based on protein sources, preferring low contributions of protein from meat and higher intakes of plant protein from nuts and seeds.
On the other hand, the protein contained in whole plant foods is connected to disease prevention. According to Dr. Michelle McMacken:
The protein found in whole plant foods protects us from many chronic diseases. There is no need to track protein intake or use protein supplements with plant-based diets; if you are meeting your daily calorie needs, you will get plenty of protein. The longest-lived people on Earth, those living in the “Blue Zones,” get about 10% of their calories from protein, compared with the U.S. average of 15-20%.
Multiple studies have shown the difference between animal protein and plant protein. Another great example comes from Colin Campbell, a Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University, whose experiments on laboratory rats showed cancer cell growth can be turned on or off by simply varying the amount of animal protein included in their diet. This was an enormous discovery, with implications to the diets of millions of people. His results, from what’s known as the “China Study,” have proven to be replicable.
A study conducted in 2016 by researchers at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital followed more than 130,000 people for 36 years, monitoring illnesses, lifestyles, diets and mortality rates.
They found that substituting between 15g and 19g of animal protein, the equivalent of a single sausage, for legumes, pulses, nuts and other planet protein, significantly decreased the risk of early death. Replacing eggs with plant-based protein also lead to a 19 percent reduction in mortality risk.
Researchers found that a 10 percent higher intake of meat was associated with a two percent higher mortality rate and an eight percent higher chance of cardiovascular death.
So Why Do We Eat Meat?
Again, I ask, what makes us believe we need to eat meat? Many people like to point to those who roamed the Earth before use, like Neanderthals. I found those arguments to be very weak, and they always fail to acknowledge Neanderthal groups that were completely vegan, and how animal protein wasn’t really important. They may also not even be related to us, but that’s a separate topic.
The evidence is mounting. It seems to be quite clear that our bodies suffer from meat eating and benefit from a whole foods, plant-based diet. This is why I am so confused.
“When you actually look at the way our digestive systems are constructed, we have the anatomy and the physiology of a strict plant eater or herbivore. We don’t have any adaptations in our digestive system or in our physiology that is adapted to eating or consuming animal flesh. And that’s why we can’t consume animal flesh without the aid of technology. But when you look at the jaw structure, jaw mechanics, our esophagus, our stomach and the length of our intestines, it’s clear that we have the anatomy of a committed herbivore.”
The quote above comes from Dr. Milton Mills, an internal medicine physician who, in the video linked within this article, explains that human beings aren’t really built to digest meat, or at the very least, they have a choice. More and more research is pointing towards the benefits of consuming a plant-based diet.
One thing is quite clear, and that’s the fact that a plant-based diet has great benefits for our health and impacts our biology in a very positive way, while meat eating and consuming animal products does the exact opposite. This is not really a matter to debate, we instead need to question what we are doing on this planet and how we are treating other animals as well. They are being tortured and it’s extremely heart-breaking. It’s very cruel and very bad for our planet to consume meat. All signs point to the fact that it’s not natural at all.