Thursday, April 18, 2024
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Clinical Studies showing benefits of Plant-based Diet

Over the past 10 years many clinical studies have been carried out which show that a whole food plant-based diet has many health benefits and is in fact superior to a meat and dairy based diet in warding off diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and many others.

In addition, a number of Statutory Bodies have officially endorsed the vegan diet:

  • The NHS (National Health Service, UK) gives guidelines on vegan diets, saying: “With good planning and an understanding of what makes up a healthy, balanced vegan diet, you can get all the nutrients your body needs”.
  • The American Academy of Nutrition and Dieteticsthe world’s largest organisation of food and nutrition professionals – has endorsed the vegan diet: “It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. These diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood, and for athletes.”
  • The Australian Health Service says: “Vegetarian and vegan diets help reduce your risk of disease. They can also provide you with all the protein, minerals and most vitamins your body needs.”

Below are just a handful of studies which demonstrate the health benefits of a vegan diet:

Cancer:

The following research studies show that a vegan diet can be beneficial in warding off cancer, heart disease, diabetes and mortality from various causes. It can also be beneficial for children and athletes.

  1. The Relationship Between Plant-Based Diet and Risk of Digestive System Cancers: A Meta-Analysis Based on 3,059,009 Subjects.
    • This study found that plant-based diets were protective against cancers of the digestive system.
  2. Are strict vegetarians protected against prostate cancer?
    • This study found that vegan diets may confer a lower risk of prostate cancer.
  3. Dairy foods, calcium intakes, and risk of incident prostate cancer in Adventist Health Study.
    • This study found that men with higher intake of dairy foods, but not nondairy calcium, had a higher risk of prostate cancer compared with men having lower intakes. Associations were nonlinear, suggesting greatest increases in risk at relatively low doses.
  4. Associations between plant-based diets and risk of disease progression in men with prostate cancer.
    • This study indicates that plant-based dietary patterns are associated with lower risk of prostate cancer progression and recurrence.
  5. Charcuterie linked to colon cancer.
    • French health authorities have found a link between additives used in processed meat and colon cancer.

Heart Disease:

  1. Plant-Based Diets Are Associated With a Lower Risk of Incident Cardiovascular Disease, Cardiovascular Disease Mortality, and All-Cause Mortality in a General Population of Middle-Aged Adults.
    • This study found that diets higher in plant foods and lower in animal foods were associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in a general population.

Type 2 Diabetes:

  1. A plant-based diet for the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes.
    • This study found that a whole-foods plant-based diet – which included legumes, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and nuts, with limited or no intake of refined foods and animal products – are highly beneficial for preventing and treating type 2 diabetes. Equally important, plant-based diets address the bigger picture for patients with diabetes by simultaneously treating cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the United States, and its risk factors such as obesity, hypertension, hyper-lipidemia, and inflammation.
  2. Plant-Based Dietary Patterns and Incidence of Type 2 Diabetes in US Men and Women: Results from Three Prospective Cohort Studies.
    • This study found that plant-based diets, especially when rich in high-quality plant foods, are associated with substantially lower risk of developing T2D.
  3. Perspective: Plant-Based Eating Pattern for Type 2 Diabetes Prevention and Treatment: Efficacy, Mechanisms, and Practical Considerations.
    • This study concluded that the consumption of a plant-based diet consisting of whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables in conjunction with the elimination of animal products reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  4. Dietary Interventions to Treat Type 2 Diabetes in Adults with a Goal of Remission.
    • This study concluded that a diet rich in whole plant foods can serve as the primary tool for achieving remission of Type 2 diabetes in adults.

Mortality:

  1. Ultra-processed food intake and animal-based food intake and mortality in the Adventist Health Study.
    • This study found that high consumption of ultra-processed foods and, separately, high consumption of red meat may be important mortality indicators.
  2. Degree of Adherence to Based Diet and Total and Cause-Specific Mortality: Prospective Cohort Study in the Million Veteran Program.
    • This study found that a greater adherence to a plant-based diet was associated with substantially lower total mortality in this large population of veterans. These findings support recommending plant-rich dietary patterns for the prevention of major chronic diseases.
  3. Healthy Plant-Based Diets Are Associated with Lower Risk of All-Cause Mortality in US Adults.
    • This study found that healthy plant-based diet scores above the median were associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality in US adults.
  4. Association of Animal and Plant Protein Intake With All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality.
    • This study found that high animal protein intake was associated with death from cardiovascular disease and high plant protein intake was associated with a low incidence of cardiovascular disease, especially among individuals with at least 1 lifestyle risk factor.

Blood Pressure:

  1. Effects of Vegetarian Diets on Blood Pressure Lowering: A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis and Trial Sequential Analysis.
    • This study found that vegetarian diets, especially vegan diets, reduce blood pressure when compared with omnivorous diets, suggesting that they may be crucial in the primary prevention and overall management of hypertension.

Weight Loss:

  1. Vegan diet leads to decreased weight and improved insulin sensitivity.
  2. Vegan diet associated with lower body mass index.
  3. The BROAD study: A randomised controlled trial using a whole food plant-based diet in the community for obesity, ischaemic heart disease or diabetes.
    • “This programme led to significant improvements in BMI, cholesterol and other risk factors. To the best of our knowledge, this research has achieved greater weight loss at 6 and 12 months than any other trial that does not limit energy intake or mandate regular exercise.”

Menopause:

  1. The Women’s Study for the Alleviation of Vasomotor Symptoms (WAVS): a randomized, controlled trial of a plant-based diet and whole soybeans for postmenopausal women.
    • This study found that a vegan diet rich in soy reduces the number of vasomotor symptoms, including hot flashes, for menopausal women.

Overall Health:

  1. Analysis and valuation of the health and climate change cobenefits of dietary change.
    • Marco Springmann, lead author of this study said: “We’ve found that the vegan diet could be one of the healthiest diets, outperforming pescatarian and vegetarian, because the vegan diet is higher in fruit, vegetables and legumes and the health benefits from this compensate anything else.”
  2. Plant-based animal product alternatives are healthier and more environmentally sustainable than animal products.
  3. For theEAT-Lancet Report, an independent panel of about 40 scientists, doctors and health experts reviewed decades of evidence on diet and human health. They defined the best diet for human health as “approximately half a plate of vegetables and fruits, the other half should consist primarily of whole grains, plant-protein sources and unsaturated plant-oils”.
  4. Association of Dietary Protein Intake with Muscle Mass in Elderly Chinese: A Cross-Sectional Study.
    • This study found that a high total protein intake and high plant-based protein intake were positively associated with muscle mass in a population of elderly Chinese people.

Sport:

  1. Benefits of a plant-based diet and considerations for the athlete.
  2. No Difference Between the Effects of Supplementing With Soy Protein Versus Animal Protein on Gains in Muscle Mass and Strength in Response to Resistance Exercise.
  3. A Vegan Athlete’s Heart-Is It Different? Morphology and Function in Echocardiography.
    • The results of this study suggested better heart function and cardiorespiratory fitness and endurance for those on a vegan diet.
  4. Is a vegan diet detrimental to endurance and muscle strength?
    • This study reported better exercise performance in the vegan group with no disadvantage for muscle strength.
  5. Plant-Based Diets for Cardiovascular Safety and Performance in Endurance Sports.
    • This study found that plant-based diets play a key role in cardiovascular health, which is critical for endurance athletes.
  6. Vegan and Omnivorous High Protein Diets Support Comparable Daily Myofibrillar Protein Synthesis Rates and Skeletal Muscle Hypertrophy in Young Adults.
    • This study found that vegan diets can support comparable rested and exercised daily MyoPS rates in healthy young adults consuming a high-protein diet.

Children:

  1. Energy, Macronutrient Intake, and Anthropometrics of Vegetarian, Vegan, and Omnivorous Children (1-3 Years) in Germany (VeChi Diet Study).
    • This study found that a Vegetarian and Vegan diet in early childhood can provide the same amount of energy and macronutrients, leading to a normal growth in comparison to omnivore children.
  2. Intake of micronutrients and fatty acids of vegetarian, vegan, and omnivorous children (1-3 years) in Germany (VeChi Diet Study).
    • This study found that in early childhood, Vegan and Vegetarian diets can provide most micronutrients in desirable amounts and a preferable fat quality compared to an omnivorous diet.

The above studies are just a sample of the large body of research which is currently available, demonstrating that a plant-based diet is the way forward if we want to improve our overall health.

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