This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Don't Be a Middle-Aged Meat Eater

Everybody now knows that smoking is bad for you. Even if you smoke, you know that you shouldn't. But eating meat, as well as dairy products, is a different story. Humans tend to think that meat, in particular, is good for you and that more meat is better than less meat. Diet books preach that in various combinations. But, not so fast, say the authors of a new study just published the journal Cell Metabolism. They combined data from the NHANES III (the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey--conducted by the US Centers for Disease Control), with mice and cellular studies to figure out what the impact of eating meat and dairy is on our health. The Guardian has a headline that expresses the alarm bells in the study:
Diets high in meat, eggs and dairy could be as harmful to health as smoking: People under 65 who eat a lot of meat, eggs and dairy are four times as likely to die from cancer or diabetes, study suggests.
The important caveat there has to do with the age at which meat and dairy products really have a harmful effect on you--under age 65. This is not unlike the smoking effect. Most smokers start young and the ill-effects accumulate. That seems to be the story with meat and dairy, as well, at least until past middle-age.
The overall harmful effects seen in the study were almost completely wiped out when the protein came from plant sources, such as beans and legumes, though cancer risk was still three times as high in middle-aged people who ate a protein-rich diet, compared with those on a low-protein diet.
But whereas middle-aged people who consumed a lot of animal protein tended to die younger from cancer, diabetes and other diseases, the same diet seemed to protect people's health in old age.
My take-away from this is that a vegan diet is really the most healthy for you--and there are a lot of good vegan role models (Carrie Underwood doesn't seem to suffer from following a vegan diet--just saying...). It is also the healthiest diet for the planet, as I've mentioned before. 

BTW--if you want to be blown away by a fabulous vegan meal, book a reservation at Candle 79 (79th and Lexington) next time you're in NYC.

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