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Red meat in a diet lacking in fruits and vegetables linked to biological ageing

Posted:  Monday, May 02, 2016

Excessive consumption of red meat has been linked to increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and colon cancer. Now, a new study has indicated that red meat may also accelerate biological ageing in people with poor dietary habits.

The study, published in the journal Aging, was based on the psychological, social, and biological determinants of ill health (pSoBid) study cohort; and originally funded by the Glasgow Centre for Population Health. The study compared the most deprived participants with the least deprived in the NHS Greater Glasgow Health Board area.

The results revealed that poor diets, lacking in fruits and vegetables, combined with an excessive intake of red meat, led to high phosphate levels and accelerated ageing among deprived males. The study demonstrated significant associations between serum phosphate and biological age markers such as DNA content and telomere length. The high phosphate levels also correlated with reduced kidney function and underlying mild-to-moderate chronic kidney disease.

Professor Paul Shiels explained, "The data in this study provides evidence for a mechanistic link between high intake of phosphate and age-related morbidities tied to socio-economic status... We think in this group the effects of high serum phosphate intake may be exacerbated. Indeed it's notable that these effects are not apparent among less deprived males, or in females, especially in the context of a more balanced diet."

Phosphate occurs naturally in basic foods such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy, and vegetables. As phosphate is effectively absorbed in the intestine, its regulation is minimally regulated. This results in excess phosphate levels in the body whenever there is over-supplementation of the mineral through the diet. Consequently, high phosphate levels may contribute to adverse health outcomes, such as mortality, premature vascular ageing, and kidney diseases.

This study highlights the importance of reducing red meat consumption in favour of a more balanced diet to prevent the acceleration of the biological clock in deprived males.

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