The benefits of a plant-based diet are well known from an environmental point of view: for climate and animal protection. From a nutritional point of view, numerous studies have shown that vegetarian diet could reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity and some cancers. In this case, a vegetarian diet and nutritional balance can go hand in hand, provided certain rules are applied for a good protein intake. In particular thanks to judicious associations between foods: for example by combining grain and legume product or grain product and dairy product or eggs.
But as the Ministry of Health specifies on the subject, vegetarians must ensure the coverage of iron needs, especially among women. Here is a study warns against a risk hitherto little mentioned,that of fractures.Published in the journal BMC Medicine, this indicates that people who do not eat meat, namely vegetarians, vegans and pesco-vegetarians (eat fish and shellfish) are more at risk of fractures, in particular at the hips. The effect may come from a lack of calcium and protein related to their diet, as well as the fact that they tend to be thinner and therefore have “less flesh” to cushion a fall.
“The biggest difference was in the hip”
Thus, compared to people who ate meat, vegans with lower calcium and protein intakes on average had a 43% higher risk of total fractures, as well as higher risks of site-specific fractures of the hips, legs and vertebrae. Vegetarians and people who ate fish but not meat also had a higher but lower risk. hip fractures compared to people who ate meat. However, the risk of fractures was partially reduced once body mass index (BMI), dietary calcium and dietary protein intake were taken into account.
“This is the first comprehensive study on the risks of total and specific fractures in people of different food groups. We found that the vegans had a higher risk of total fractures, resulting in almost 20 more cases per 1,000 people over a 10-year period compared to people who ate meat, ”says Dr. Tammy Tong, lead author of the study . “The biggest differences were in the hip fractures, orthe risk in vegans was 2.3 times higher than in those who ate meat, equivalent to 15 more cases per 1,000 people over 10 years. ”
The body mass index, a factor not to be overlooked
This new research built on a long-standing study called EPIC-Oxford, a cohort of 55,000 people living in the UK recruited between 1993 and 2001. Out of all the participants, 29,380 ate meat, 8 037 of fish but not meat, 15,499 were vegetarians and 1,982 were vegans (with the addition of an exclusion of dairy and other animal products such as eggs and honey) when recruited. Their eating habits were assessed at recruitment, then again in 2010. Participants were followed continuously for 18 years to the occurrence of fractures, totaling 3,941 during the study.
Specifically, 566 fractures occurred in the arm, 889 in the wrist, 945 in the hip, 366 in the leg, 520 in the ankle and 467 fractures in other major sites, defined as the collarbone, ribs and vertebrae. . The researchers found that compared to people who ate meat, vegetarians and vegans were at higher risk of total fractures. The association eased with further adjustment for calcium, protein and BMI, but was clearly significant in vegans and the greatest difference in risk by diet group was particularly in hip fractures.
Benefits and risks for every diet
“Previous studies have shown that a low BMI est associated with a higher risk of hip fractures, and low calcium and protein intakes have both been linked to poor bone health. This study showed that vegans, who had a lower BMI as well as lower calcium and protein intakes than meat eaters, had a higher risk of fractures at several sites, ”adds Professor Tong. The researchers therefore invite followers of a plant-based diet to ensure they have adequate levels of calcium and protein and maintain a healthy body mass index, “that is, neither underweight nor overweight. ”
The researchers warn, however, that they were unable to differentiate between fractures caused by poor bone health and those caused by accidents because these data were not available. They wish to conduct further studies with different populations, including non-Europeans and with a larger proportion of men, to explore possible differences in risk according to sex and ethnicity. Note that the World Health Organization recommends limiting consumption processed meat and red meat, the latter being linked to increased risks of death from heart disease, diabetes and other illnesses.