Many people love eating meat, but experts said that eating too much of it could be bad for health. So humans found many ways of getting their protein needs. But do you know that there is another reason why eating less meat could be good for overall health?
According to Rui Wang, a physiology researcher and the dean of the Faculty of Science of York University in Canada, cutting back on meat is important for healthy aging because it forces tissues to create hydrogen sulfide (H2S). It is a toxic gas that smells like a rotten egg but promotes good health inside the body.
Hydrogen sulfide is not the gas that any human would want to get close to, and it was even credited to at least one mass extinction. But surprisingly, the body naturally produces this toxic gas as a signaling molecule that acts as a chemical messenger. Recently, Wang and his team found the link between hydrogen sulfide production and diet.
Less Means More In Healthy Aging
Studies in the 1990s showed that when the rats were given less sulfur-containing amino acids in their diet, they are 30% more likely to live longer than those whose diets were not restricted, Wang wrote.
He and his team performed a series of animal studies in which they restricted the cysteine and methionine, two sulfur amino acids, intake of the rats and see what happens.
They noticed an increase in hydrogen sulfide production in the rats' tissues, which triggers several health benefits, such as increased new blood vessel generation that is linked to cardiovascular health and better resistance to oxidative stress in the liver that may cause cancer, ScienceAlert reported.
Moreover, a study on 11,576 adults in NHANES III showed that what happens to the rats can also happen in humans. The study showed that reduced dietary intake of sulfur amino acids is linked to lower cardiovascular risk factors, like lower levels of cholesterol and glucose.
That means lower sulfide amino acid intake promotes healthy aging. However, it is a bit challenging to achieve this goal because sulfur amino acids are abundant in meat, dairy, and eggs, foods that are mostly in people's grocery list items. On average, an adult American eat 2.5 times the daily requirement of sulfide amino acids.
Most notably, red meat is rich in sulfur amino acids, as well as poultry white meat, and fish. Wang said that switching to a plant-based diet would help reduce intakes, such as beans, lentils, and legumes, which are also a good source of protein but low in sulfur amino acids.
Uses of Hydrogen Sulfide
Hydrogen sulfide is a toxic gas that occurs naturally in petroleum products. It has a distinct rotten egg smell at low concentrations. According to Energy Education, a person may lose his sense of smell under prolonged exposure to this gas. In addition to being toxic, it is also flammable and explosive.
Hydrogen sulfide is used in the production of sulfuric acid and sulfur, as well as in creating inorganic sulfides that can be used to make pesticides, dyes, leather, and pharmaceuticals. In the field of agriculture, it is also used as a disinfectant.
Industrial uses of hydrogen sulfide include iron smelters, food processing plants, breweries, and landfills. Experts warn that hydrogen sulfide must be properly disposed of its emission could cause danger to the health.
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