In 1990, most years of healthy life were lost reportedly to undernutrition, such as diarrheal diseases in malnourished children, but now the greatest disease burden may be attributed to high blood pressure, a disease of overnutrition. The pandemic of chronic disease has been ascribed in part to the near-universal shift toward a diet dominated by processed foods and animal-sourced foods—more meat, oils, dairy, soda, eggs, sugar, salt, and refined grains.
How can scientists parse out the effects of specific foods? Researchers studied lapsed vegetarians. People who once ate vegetarian diets but then started to eat meat at least once a week experienced a 146 percent increase in odds of heart disease, a 152 percent increase in stroke, a 166 percent increase in diabetes, and a 231 percent increase in odds for weight gain. During the 12 years after the transition away from eating vegetarian, meat-eating was associated with a 3.6 year decrease in life expectancy.
Researchers have shown that a more plant-based diet may help prevent, treat, or reverse some of our leading causes of death, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure. Interventional studies of plant-based diets have shown, for example, 90 percent reductions in angina attacks within just a few weeks. Plant-based diet intervention groups have reported greater diet satisfaction than control groups, as well as improved digestion, increased energy, and better sleep, and significant improvement in their physical functioning, general health, vitality, and mental health. Studies have shown plant-based eating can improve not only body weight, blood sugar levels, and ability to control cholesterol, but also emotional states, including depression, anxiety, fatigue, sense of well-being, and daily functioning.
Only one way of eating has ever been proven to reverse heart disease in the majority of patients: a diet centered around whole plant foods. If that’s all a whole-food, plant-based diet could do—reverse our number-one killer—shouldn’t that be the default diet until proven otherwise? The fact it may also be effective in preventing, treating, and arresting other leading killers seems to make the case for plant-based eating simply overwhelming.
Image Credit: Pixabay. This image has been modified.
Popular Videos for Plant-based Diets
All Videos for Plant-based Diets
How to Win the War on Cancer
How effective is chemotherapy for colon, lung, breast, and prostate cancer?
Does Tea Tree Oil Work for Nail Fungus?
Tea tree essential oil is pitted against the antifungal cream lotrimin for the treatment of fungal nail infection, but what about treating the underlying cause?
Is Organic Meat Less Carcinogenic?
Researchers tested 76 samples of different kinds of meat, both organic and conventional, for 33 different carcinogens.
How to Lower Heavy Metal Levels with Diet
What dietary change can simultaneously help detoxify mercury, lead, and cadmium from the body?
Does an Apple a Day Really Keep the Doctor Away?
Which would save more lives: a prescription to eat an apple a day, or statin drugs?
How to Reduce Cholesterol Oxidation
Chicken, fish, and egg powder in processed foods present greater risk from cholesterol oxidation byproducts, but there are things you can do to reduce exposure.
Prescription: Nutrition Episode 3 – Spilling the Beans
I team up with chef Rich Landau and public health nutritionist Tracye McQuirter to discuss the health benefits and preparation of beans.
The Benefits of Kale & Cabbage for Cholesterol
Dinosaur kale and red cabbage are put to the test.
Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen Checklist
In my book How Not to Die I center my recommendations around a Daily Dozen checklist of all the things I try to fit into my daily routine.
Dining by Traffic Light: Green Is for Go, Red Is for Stop
A video explaining my traffic light system for ranking the relative healthfulness of Green Light vs. Yellow Light vs. Red Light foods.
How to Convert into an Equol Producer
Certain gut bacteria can supercharge the benefits of soy foods, resulting in even more bone protection, better control of menopausal symptoms, and lower prostate cancer risk. The question is how can we foster the growth of these good bacteria?
Avocados Lower Small Dense LDL Cholesterol
What are the effects of oatmeal, walnuts, extra virgin olive oil, and avocados on LDL cholesterol size?