Forget pricey face creams and spa treatments, if you’re keen to look younger then cutting out red meat can save you years as well as pounds. New research has shown that eating too much red meat and not enough vegetables can increase the biological age of your body.
The study, published in the journal Aging, shows that an increase in the levels of serum phosphate –naturally occurring phosphorus in the blood – combined with a poor diet, adds more miles to the body clock, meaning your body may be far older than your chronological age.
Researchers from the Institute of Cancer Sciences at Glasgow University compared the dietary habits of those in the least and most affluent parts of the Greater Glasgow area. Worst affected were men in the most deprived areas of Scotland’s second city, who can expect to die 14 years earlier than men in more affluent areas. The figure is 11 years for women.
The study suggests a direct link between speeded-up body ageing, the level of phosphates in their blood and how often they ate red meat. Red meat is believed to have a particular effect on this group because of their poor diet and “suboptimal fruit and vegetable intake”, according to the researchers.
As well as making you look older, too much meat and too few fruit and vegetables can contribute to a range of health issues, including kidney disease. High phosphate levels in deprived men were also linked to reduced kidney function and chronic kidney disease, the study found.
“Our observations indicate that elevated red meat consumption has adverse effects among deprived males, who already have a poor diet and eat less fruit and vegetables than recommended,” said Professor Paul Shiels of Glasgow University. “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.”
“It has also not escaped our attention that red meat product quality and preservation may have an impact upon the diets of the most deprived and their associated health.”
Markers of biological age include DNA content and the length of telomeres, which protect the ends of chromosomes from deteriorating and get shorter as we age. Significant connections were found between these markers and the amount of phosphates in the blood.