¿Es saludable ser vegetariano? El nivel de actividad física y la genética juegan un papel importante en la que interactuamos con nuestros alimentos

Hacer artículos sobre la alimentación no es nada fácil. De repente, sale un estudio sobre que el café es perjudicial para la salud; dos meses más tarde, aparece otro diciendo que tiene buenos efectos sobre el corazón. Un día, el vino es veneno puro, y al siguiente, si no bebes una copa morirás antes.

Parte de esta problemática es en base a que los estudios científicos sobre los alimentos se realizan en grupos pequeños. Esto es especialmente delicado con algo tan importante como la dieta, ya que el entorno, el nivel de actividad física y la genética juegan un papel importante en la que interactuamos con nuestros alimentos. Algunas personas simplemente procesan ciertos alimentos mejor que otras. No hay una dieta perfecta para todos.

Muchos optan por seguir el famoso consejo del autor y periodista Michael Pollan: “come comida, aunque no mucho, y principalmente plantas”.

La primera parte es un recordatorio para comer alimentos reales, no químicos procesados. La segunda es una responsabilidad personal: comer hasta saciarte, no hasta llenarte. Pero, ¿qué implica comer “principalmente plantas”?

Un equipo de investigadores austríacos con sede en el Instituto de Medicina Social y Epidemiología de la Universidad Médica de Graz quiso investigarlo. Su metaanálisis, de más de 15.000 austríacos de 15 años o más, reveló información importante sobre lo que significan para nuestra salud todas las dietas vegetarianas.
De esos más de 15.000 ciudadanos austríacos, el equipo analizó los datos de 1.320 personas: 330 vegetarianos, 330 carnívoros que comían mucha fruta y verdura, 330 carnívoros que no comían mucha carne, y el mismo número de personas que comían muchísima carne. Tuvieron en cuenta la edad, el sexo y factores socioeconómicos cuando combinaron los grupos. Al final, el 76,4 por ciento de este grupo eran mujeres, siendo 40 puntos porcentuales menor de 30 años.

“En general, nuestros hallazgos revelan que los vegetarianos reportaban una peor salud, solían ir al médico con mayor frecuencia, tienen peores prácticas preventivas de salud y tienen una menor calidad de vida. También, que tienen más afecciones crónicas. En definitiva, una peor salud”, afirman los autores.

También descubrieron tasas “significativamente más altas” de cáncer en los vegetarianos, así como un aumento en las tasas de trastorno de ansiedad y depresión (aunque señalan que esto es inconsistente con otras investigaciones). En general, concluyen que los vegetarianos padecen más enfermedades crónicas y toman más medicamentos que los comedores de carne.

Pero no todo son malas noticias: los vegetarianos tienen un índice de masa corporal más bajo y sufren menos problemas de colesterol, hipertensión, enfermedades en las arterias coronarias y diabetes tipo 2. Los vegetarianos también tienen un estatus socioeconómico más alto, aunque la correlación podría no ser causal: muchas personas con bajos ingresos podrían no poder comprar productos vegetales de calidad. Los vegetarianos también tratan mejor sus cuerpos: hacen más ejercicio, fuman y beben menos alcohol.

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