Side Effects of Giving Up Chicken, According to Science

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Without a doubt, chicken is the most popular meat in America—in fact, it makes up 43% of all meat consumed in the U.S. Even though it may be a convenient, relatively affordable form of lean protein, there are a wide range of reasons why you may decide to stop eating it. For example, you might make this decision over concerns about animal cruelty concerns, to lighten your carbon footprint, or for health-related reasons. Regardless of why you make the choice, there are some side effects you should know about because giving up chicken comes with both positive and potentially negative consequences.

Let’s start with the obvious: Chicken is an excellent source of key nutrients, such as niacin, phosphorus, protein, selenium, and vitamins B6 and B12. Protein not only helps you to feel satiated, but it’s also crucial for building and repairing muscle tissue. That means that if you’re forfeiting chicken, you’ll definitely want to be mindful about replacing it with another high-quality protein source, as well as foods that contain those same essential vitamins and minerals.

There are lots of other considerations to take into account, too—so here’s what to expect. If chicken isn’t the only animal protein you’re giving up, be sure to read up on What Happens to Your Body When You Stop Eating Meat.

1. Your body might run low on B vitamins.

Chicken is chock-full of B vitamins—in fact, one 3-ounce serving contains a whopping 51% of your RDA of niacin (vitamin B3), 16% of the RDA of vitamin B6, and 10% of the RDA of vitamin B12. Niacin is important for brain health—it helps to keep your metabolism and nervous system working properly, and it’s also used for antioxidant protection. Vitamin B6, meanwhile, plays a critical role in ensuring your immune system is strong, and vitamin B12 is used to make DNA, red blood cells, and nerves.

But did you know that your body cannot produce niacin, vitamin B6, or vitamin B12 on its own? The only way to get these essential micronutrients is to eat foods that contain them. That means that after giving up chicken, you may run into a deficiency—that is, unless you make sure to eat other foods rich in B vitamins, such as eggs, legumes, nutritional yeast, and fortified cereals and dairy products.

2. Your gut will be grateful.

What you eat can have a significant effect on the bacteria in your gut. So, after giving up chicken, you can definitely expect your microbiome to change for the better—especially if you were previously consuming a lot of it.

What you eat can have a significant effect on the bacteria in your gut. So, after giving up chicken, you can definitely expect your microbiome to change for the better—especially if you were previously consuming a lot of it.

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SOURCE: Eat This, Rebecca Strong

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