The editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Cardiology asserts that coronary artery disease (the leading killer of men and women in United States) would not be possible without elevated cholesterol, which is elevated by trans fats, saturated fats, and cholesterol, which are all found in animal based foods. This is one reason cholesterol reduction has been found to be maximized by a vegan diet (see also here). Eating a plant-based diet has even been found to reverse heart disease and possibly even the progression of cancer. A vegan diet results in very low levels of carcinogenic nitrosamines flowing through the body.
Dr. Spock recommended all children be raised on a diet free of meat and dairy to prevent diseases such as cancer. Vegan children have been found to have higher IQs. Commercial milk, produced by pregnant cows, is full of hormones; some of these hormones could be categorized as carcinogens and may affect the sexual maturation of children.
Eating vegan has been strongly associated with a higher frequency of bowel movements as well as better fecal form, which reduces the risk for many health issues. The intake of fiber (only found in plant foods) is associated with a longer life. In studies, vegans have been found to be deficient in three nutrients, whereas omnivores have been found to be deficient in seven. Vegans also show significantly less inflammation in their bodies compared to meat eaters.
Industrial pollutants have been found to be at significantly lower levels in the blood of vegans compared to omnivores. The breast milk of vegans has been found to be significantly less polluted with fire retardants as well as dioxins. Mercury levels in vegans have also been found to be 10 times lower than those who eat fish. Because we feed farm animals to other farm animals in the US, the toxins may bioaccumulate up the food chain and so eating lower on the food chain (a plant-based diet) may decrease one’s exposure to industrial pollutants.
Dairy consumption has been associated with an increased risk of Parkinson’s, heart attacks, colorectal cancer, prostate cancer, and testicular cancer (see here). In a study, milk protein was found to cause an increase in abdominal fat whereas soy protein resulted in a decrease in abdominal fat. The National Academy of Science has said the only safe intake of trans-fats is zero, and a significant source in the American diet of trans-fats is animal products. The average BMI in the US is now 28.8; vegans are the only dietary group in America that is not overweight. And even obese vegans are protected from diabetes. A vegan diet may even be able to reverse diabetes if caught early enough.
Vegans have been found to have the same bone density as omnivores, and vegans also have higher blood plasma protein levels than meat eaters. Veganism may also slow aging by boosting telomerase activity, which protects our DNA. An egg-free vegetarian diet has been found to result in higher blood levels of DHEA, which may extend one’s lifespan. Vegans appear to be at the lowest risk for developing arthritis and cataracts. Rheumatoid arthritis can be reversed in some cases by a vegan diet. A plant-based diet also appears to prevent and even treat Crohn’s Disease. And plant based diets may prevent kidney function decline and possibly even treat kidney failure.
But vegans must supplement their diet with Vitamin B12, either by eating fortified food or taking a supplement pill (see also here, here. here, here, here, here, here, here). They also need to make sure they get enough iodine, from sources such as iodized salt or seaweed. Plant-based long chain omega 3 fatty acid (DHA) supplements may also be useful.
See also the related blog posts: Plant-based Benefits Extend Beyond the Top Killers, Optimum Nutrition Recommendations
Topic summary contributed by Denise.
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