Convergence of Evidence

Convergence of Evidence
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Profile of an editorial published by Dr. Dean Ornish in the American Journal of Cardiology describing the optimal diet, and how simple choices can be as powerful as drugs and surgery.

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Dr. Ornish published an editorial in the American Journal of Cardiology last year that I think really sums up where we are, describing a growing convergence of scientific evidence that an optimal diet is mostly plant-based. Make sure it has nuts, soy, and fiber, and you can drop your bad cholesterol as much as taking drugs every day for the rest of your life—but without the cost, and without the side effects. Save the country $20 billion.

Of course, most patients aren’t even given the plant-based option, because of the patronizing belief among doctors that no one will actually do it. But in reality, most people don’t want to take the drugs. People hate the side effects. They don’t make you feel any better, and it’s scary popping pills every day so you don’t keel over and die. People don’t even want to think about it.

However, when people actually improve their diets, you actually feel so much better, so quickly, that it reframes the reason for making these changes from fear of dying—which usually is not sustainable—to joy of living, which often is.

And the diet doesn’t just help your cholesterol. Unlike the drugs, a plant-based diet can also prevent and treat diabetes, hypertension, obesity, prostate cancer, breast cancer, etc. Pills can’t do all that. And instead of being on a list of medications—one drug for this; one or two drugs for that; there’s not one diet for heart disease, another one for diabetes, a plant-based diet covers all the bases. Why? Because plant-based foods contain more than 100,000 different disease-preventing nutrients. Let me say that again: 100,000 phytonutrients. Only found in plants.

You know, blueberries have the anthocyanins for memory. Tomatoes are rich in the red pigment lycopene, which targets heart disease and cancer. Ginger’s got gingerols for hypertension; pomegranates have some totally different phytonutrients. And let’s never forget kale! The list goes on and on.

And you can’t just take these phytonutrients in a pill. Beta carotene pills may actually increase cancer risk, as opposed to the whole carrot, which may lower our risk. And we probably couldn’t swallow a hundred thousand pills a day anyway.

Then he talks about his work stopping and reversing the progression of even severe coronary artery disease. Slowing, stopping, or reversing cancer. Living and eating healthy actually changes you on a genetic level, upregulating disease-preventing genes, and downregulating genes that promote breast cancer, prostate cancer, inflammation, and oxidative stress. Drugs can’t do that.

The bottom line: people tend to think of breakthroughs in medicine as new drugs, lasers, high-tech surgery—but they have a hard time believing that simple choices can be as powerful as drugs and surgery. But they often are. Sometimes, even better.

And I will leave you, on that note.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Credit goes to Dr. John Smith. Image thanks to U.S. Department of Agriculture via Flickr.

Dr. Ornish published an editorial in the American Journal of Cardiology last year that I think really sums up where we are, describing a growing convergence of scientific evidence that an optimal diet is mostly plant-based. Make sure it has nuts, soy, and fiber, and you can drop your bad cholesterol as much as taking drugs every day for the rest of your life—but without the cost, and without the side effects. Save the country $20 billion.

Of course, most patients aren’t even given the plant-based option, because of the patronizing belief among doctors that no one will actually do it. But in reality, most people don’t want to take the drugs. People hate the side effects. They don’t make you feel any better, and it’s scary popping pills every day so you don’t keel over and die. People don’t even want to think about it.

However, when people actually improve their diets, you actually feel so much better, so quickly, that it reframes the reason for making these changes from fear of dying—which usually is not sustainable—to joy of living, which often is.

And the diet doesn’t just help your cholesterol. Unlike the drugs, a plant-based diet can also prevent and treat diabetes, hypertension, obesity, prostate cancer, breast cancer, etc. Pills can’t do all that. And instead of being on a list of medications—one drug for this; one or two drugs for that; there’s not one diet for heart disease, another one for diabetes, a plant-based diet covers all the bases. Why? Because plant-based foods contain more than 100,000 different disease-preventing nutrients. Let me say that again: 100,000 phytonutrients. Only found in plants.

You know, blueberries have the anthocyanins for memory. Tomatoes are rich in the red pigment lycopene, which targets heart disease and cancer. Ginger’s got gingerols for hypertension; pomegranates have some totally different phytonutrients. And let’s never forget kale! The list goes on and on.

And you can’t just take these phytonutrients in a pill. Beta carotene pills may actually increase cancer risk, as opposed to the whole carrot, which may lower our risk. And we probably couldn’t swallow a hundred thousand pills a day anyway.

Then he talks about his work stopping and reversing the progression of even severe coronary artery disease. Slowing, stopping, or reversing cancer. Living and eating healthy actually changes you on a genetic level, upregulating disease-preventing genes, and downregulating genes that promote breast cancer, prostate cancer, inflammation, and oxidative stress. Drugs can’t do that.

The bottom line: people tend to think of breakthroughs in medicine as new drugs, lasers, high-tech surgery—but they have a hard time believing that simple choices can be as powerful as drugs and surgery. But they often are. Sometimes, even better.

And I will leave you, on that note.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Credit goes to Dr. John Smith. Image thanks to U.S. Department of Agriculture via Flickr.

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