Health Status of Female and Male Vegetarian and Vegan Endurance Runners Compared to Omnivores-Results from the NURMI Study (Step 2).Nutrients. 2018 Dec 22; 11(1)N
Health effects of vegetarian and vegan diets are well known. However, data is sparse in terms of their appropriateness for the special nutritional demands of endurance runners. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate the health status of vegetarian (VER) and vegan endurance runners (VGR) and compare it to omnivorous endurance runners (OR). A total of 245 female and male recreational runners completed an online survey. Health status was assessed by measuring health-related indicators (body weight, mental health, chronic diseases, and hypersensitivity reactions, medication intake) and health-related behavior (smoking habits, supplement intake, food choice, healthcare utilization). Data analysis was performed by using non-parametric ANOVA and MANOVA. There were 109 OR, 45 VER and 91 VGR. Significant differences (p < 0.05) were determined for the following findings: (i) body weight for VER and VGR was less than for OR, (ii) VGR had highest food choice scores, and (iii) VGR reported the lowest prevalences of allergies. There was no association (p > 0.05) between diet and mental health, medication intake, smoking habits, supplement intake, and healthcare utilization. These findings support the notion that adhering to vegetarian kinds of diet, in particular to a vegan diet, is associated with a good health status and, thus, at least an equal alternative to an omnivorous diet for endurance runners.