Dr Peter Brukner OAM

2 mins read

Ah, 2022. It’s an interesting time to be alive, that’s for sure (and we’re not just talking about COVID-19).

These days we have an abundance of options, especially when it comes to food. From zoodles to chaffles, 3D printed-food, and even “meat” that’s grown in a lab, we’re certainly spoilt for choice. It’s hard to know what the future of eating holds, but we do know that we sometimes lose sight of what’s important when faced with so many options.

If you’re weighing up a meat-based, vegetarian or vegan approach, know this: a new study suggests that eating meat may be the key to a longer life. While this news might surprise some, it really shouldn’t. After all, meat has been a part of the human diet for thousands of years. But is it essential for our health?

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Why did they study meat consumption and life expectancy?

“We wanted to look more closely at research that has thrown a negative spotlight on meat consumption in the human diet,” study author, University of Adelaide researcher in biomedicine Dr Wenpeng You said.

“Looking only at correlations of meat consumption with people’s health or life expectancy within a particular group and/or a particular region or country can lead to complex and misleading conclusions.”

What did the study find?

The study, published in the International Journal of Internal Medicine, examined the overall health effects of total meat consumption in 175 countries.

The researchers from the University of Adelaide found that meat provided energy and complete nutrients to the human body and was associated with a longer life expectancy. In comparison, the intake of carbohydrates (cereals, starchy roots and sugars) showed a lower nutritional value than meat and negatively impacted life expectancy.

“While this is no surprise to many of us, it still needs to be pointed out,” says co-author Dr Arthur Saniotis, an anthropologist at the University of Adelaide and biologist at the Polish Academy of Science. “It highlights that meat has its own components contributing to our overall health beyond just the number of calories consumed and that without meat in our diet, we may not thrive.”

The takeaway on eating meat

“Our take-home message from the paper is that meat-eating is beneficial to human health provided that it is consumed in moderation and that the meat industry is conducted in an ethical way,” Dr Saniotis says.

So, if you want to live longer, just fire up the grill!

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You W, Henneberg R, Saniotis A, Ge Y, Henneberg M. Total Meat Intake is Associated with Life Expectancy: A Cross-Sectional Data Analysis of 175 Contemporary Populations. Int J Gen Med. 2022;15:1833-1851

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