Topic summary contributed by volunteer(s): Sue
A plant-based diet may be able to prevent and treat diabetes, heart disease, breast cancer, prostate cancer, obesity, and hypertension. Phytonutrient rich foods are the ones most often associated with chronic disease prevention, treatment, and cure, and a healthy eating index can be calculated based on phytonutrient intake. Phytonutrients, by definition, originate only in plants. Foods high in antioxidants appear to help prevent many chronic oxidative stress diseases. Some of the best choices include: dried apple rings, goji berries, pomegranate seeds, Indian gooseberries, blackberries and green tea. The enzyme dismutase is thought to prevent the oxidation of our mitochondria and slow aging; a plant-based diet helps to boost this enzyme’s activity 300%. A study of 15,000 vegetarians found that they had lower levels of several chronic diseases as compared to the general population. This included lower rates of the following: coronary artery disease, strokes, high blood pressure, diabetes, and diverticulosis. But unfortunately, the prevention of chronic disease through diet and nutrition is an area of medicine in which most doctors are not trained and subsequently lack sufficient knowledge to properly advise patients (see also here). Seven out of ten deaths of Americans each year are from chronic diseases, and it is known that diet is a major factor in these deaths. Yet, efforts to require nutrition education in medical schools have met with serious opposition (see here, here, here). Multivitamins are often taken to prevent chronic diseases; unfortunately, they may actually increase the risk for breast cancer. Eggs and brains are the two most concentrated sources of cholesterol and should be avoided to prevent heart disease. And the hormones in dairy have also been associated with an increased cancer risk.