How to live longer: How a vegetarian diet could extend your life expectancy

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A vegetarian follows a plant-based diet, consisting of no meat or fish. This could help lower cholesterol, inflammation and reduce your risk of disease.

How is this so?

The cholesterol charity Heart UK noted cholesterol “is only found in foods that come from animals”.

Thus, there’s no cholesterol in “fruit, vegetables, grains, seeds, nuts, beans, peas and lentils”.

However, the main emphasis needs to be on reducing the consumption of saturated fat, which raises blood cholesterol.

Foods high in saturated fat include:

  • Lamb chops
  • Sausages
  • Burgers
  • Bacon
  • Kebabs

Too much cholesterol clogs up arteries, restricting blood flow to vital organs in the body.

For instance, high cholesterol is a risk factor for having a heart attack or stroke – two deadly conditions.

Medical News Today stated “an anti-inflammatory diet favours fruits and vegetables”.

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It added: “Many plant-based foods are good sources of antioxidants, [which] help remove free radicals from the body.”

Free radicals lead to cell damage, increases the risk of inflammation and contributes to a range of diseases.

All these conditions outlined below involve inflammation:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Psoriasis
  • Asthma
  • Eosinophilic esophagitis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Colitis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Lupus
  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure

“Eating a diet that is rich in antioxidants may also help reduce the risk of certain cancers,” added Medical News Today.

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Clearly, by reducing a person’s risk of disease, a vegetarian diet can extend your lifespan.

What about protein?
The NHS certified that eggs, milk, cheese, soya products, pulses, beans, nuts and seeds are “good protein sources”.

Additionally the NHS added: “A healthy, balanced vegetarian diet [means] you can get all the nutrients your body needs – without the need for supplements.”

However, one must understand what makes a vegetarian diet healthy – don’t just assume cutting out meat and fish is the only thing you need to do.

With a vegetarian diet, you still need to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables.

The five-a-day guideline still applies to a vegetarian diet, as does limiting cakes, cookies, and processed foods.

Do make sure you have enough iron in a vegetarian diet; food rich in iron include:

  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Peas
  • Raisins
  • Watercress
  • Broccoli
  • Spring greens
  • Whole grains, such as brown rice and brown bread
  • Cereals fortified with iron

What about vitamin B12?
If you eat dairy products, you “probably get enough” vitamin B12 in your diet, said the national health body.

Researchers, on behalf of the Federal Commission for Nutrition in Zurich, Switzerland, looked into longevity.

They found evidence that the “long-term consumption” of red and processed meat is “associated with an increased risk of mortality” (i.e. death).

Meat eating was linked to cardiovascular disease, colorectal cancer and diabetes.

“The association persists after inclusion of known confounding factors, such as age, race, BMI, history, smoking, blood pressure, lipids, physical activity,” noted the the research team.

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