Emerging Evidence Shows Benefits of
Plant-Based Diets To Prevent Disease
More evidence emerged showing the benefits of choosing a plant based
diet to prevent disease. With the escalating rates of Diabetes,
Heart Disease and Cancer, we have to stop and look at what we are
putting into our bodies to assuage these terminal conditions. The
good news is, we have the ability to prevent the obloquies of these
diseases. Not only do we have the ability, we have it in a cheap
and easy manner sans surgery and medical intervention.
The ability we have is to choose what we eat. Choosing a plant
based diet over an animal based diet, i.e., more fruits and vegetables,
less meat, is the choice we need to make if we want to have a
say in our health.
Recent large scale studies have shown the myriad of disease affected
by choosing a meat based diet
A study by The National Institute of Health in 2009, titled The
AARP Diet and Health Study, reported that red meat and dairy products
are associated with increased risk of Pancreatic Cancer. By studying
525,000 participants, they also found no association between fats
from plant foods and pancreatic cancer.
A study on Type 2 Diabetes using information from the Nurses'
Health Study found that substituting saturated and trans fat (i.e.
found in meat) with mono or poly unsaturated fat (i.e. found in
vegetables, nuts and fish), was associated with less cognitive
decline. This study looked at 1,500 people over 70 years old who
have Type 2 Diabetes.
A study at a hospital in China reported in the International
Journal of Cancer in 2009 looked at fruit and vegetable consumption
and breast cancer. A strong inverse association was found between
total fruit and vegetable consumption and breast cancer risk.
The study looked at both pre and post-menopausal women and showed
that breast cancer risk can be decreased by an astronomical 72%
if a diet is consumed that is high in vegetable intake.
A review of 87 studies by the AICR, American Institute for Cancer
Research suggests that consumption of red meat (beef, lamb and
pork) is linked to increased risk of colorectal cancer. The reviews
concluded that eating more than 18 ounces of meat a week has a
significant impact on raising cancer risk. The AICR's number one
recommendation for decreasing cancer risk is to choose mostly
plant foods, limit red meat and avoid processed meat.
Heart disease, the leading cause of death in North America, is
also linked to an animal based diet. The archives of Internal
Medicine reported in June on results of a study looking at low-carbohydrate
diets and hyperlipidemia, or high blood fat. The study showed
that heart disease risk factors can be reduced when choosing a
plant based diet vs. an animal based diet. The study looked at
protein sources to determine that a low carbohydrate diet can
help lower heart disease risk if the higher protein is from plant
sources, not animal sources.
The evidence is clear that choosing a plant based diet is a key
factor in preventing disease. Don't worry if you like to eat meat
and chicken, all foods can fit. Start by eating them in limited
amounts, no more than 6 ounces a day. Progress to meat-free days
half of the days of the week. Whatever your strategy, strive to
base your overall diet on plant foods and you will decrease your
risk of the leading causes of death and you may lose weight while
you're at it.
Shari Portnoy, MPH, RD, LD/N is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian.
She holds degrees in both Nutrition and Public Health and has
completed the U.S. Food Laws course at the Michigan State University,
Institute of Food Laws. She has been a featured speaker at the
American Culinary Federation National Convention and a board member
of the American Dietetic Association.
February 11, 2010