You may never look at red meat again after this: it can make your body grow way older than it should, according to a new study.
While red meat has benefits, overconsumption has been blamed to a variety of life's maladies including cancer and, subsequently, decreased survival.
But overall, binging on meat while scrimping on fruits and vegetables can speed up your biological age, loosely defined as your life expectancy, by increasing the risk of kidney disease and damaging common age markers like telomeres.
The study conducted by the University of Glasgow looked into the serum phosphate levels and red meat consumption among the most and least deprived areas in Scotland.
"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," said Paul Shiels, professor of epigenetics.
The link between accelerated biological aging and a moderate level of serum phosphate sourced from food is the strongest among the most deprived males. The country currently has one of the biggest life expectancy differences between affluent and deprived people in the developed world where the gap is as much as 14 years among men.
This association is further linked to regular consumption of red meat. This could be because these males may already maintain a poor diet characterized by not following the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables.
Further, the researchers have also found a link among elevated consumption of red meat, high phosphate levels, and reduced kidney function.
"Strikingly, many of the subjects had kidney function indicative of incipient or early onset chronic kidney disease. 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," Shiels further said.
Phosphate, which often works with calcium, is essential for building healthy bones. Too much, of it, however, leads to an opposite effect - that is, the changes in calcium levels can lead to more brittle and weaker bones. Moreover, it can lead to damage to the nerves and can form clumps together with calcium, which can lodge themselves on the blood vessels or the joints.
The researchers also noticed a link between the high-meat diet with less fruits and vegetables and changes in the content of the DNA and the length of the telomere, a nucleotide region in the edges of the chromosome, which protects it from damage. It has been regarded as the holder of the secret to longevity.
The study has been accepted for publication in the journal Aging.