Eating the right foods and getting the nutrients your body needs is essential to good health. And adopting a plant-based diet will put you on the fast track to health and vitality.
Rates of chronic disease are accelerating at an alarming rate. And it’s happening in people younger and younger. Sadly, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), by 2020, chronic diseases will account for almost three-quarters of all deaths worldwide. This includes diseases like cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, autoimmune disease, and digestive disorders, among many others.
But thanks to the research of plant-powered pioneers like Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, we now know that most chronic diseases are lifestyle-related. And that diet is a stronger predicting factor in chronic disease than genetics. Many people are turning to a plant-based diet to not only prevent chronic disease, but also to slow its progression and, in some cases, even to reverse it completely.
Adopting a plant-based diet benefits many aspects of health, including the following:
Following a plant-based diet has been shown to positively benefit those with cardiovascular disease. In Dr. Campbell’s China Study research, he found that the more plant protein, legumes, and vegetables people ate, the less likely they were to die of coronary artery disease.
Dr. William Li also found that by eating more fruits and vegetables and less meat (particularly red meat) you can prevent damage to the cells that line and protect your blood vessels. In the last few decades, science has discovered that damage to this endothelial lining causes different types of heart disease and atherosclerosis.
For more on how a plant-based diet benefits heart health and what foods to eat to beat heart disease, check out our article here.
Type 2 Diabetes
Replacing animal protein with plant protein has a profound positive effect on people with type 2 diabetes. When researchers reviewed and analyzed the data from 13 randomized controlled trials, they found a decrease in three important markers of diabetic severity — hemoglobin A1c, fasting glucose, and fasting insulin — when switching from animal protein to plant protein.
Dr. Neal Barnard also conducted a study on the effects of a low-fat vegan diet on people living with type 2 diabetes. He showed that eating this way improved weight loss, blood sugar control, and triglyceride levels compared to the diet recommended by the American Diabetic Association.
While many people mistakenly believe that diabetes is caused by sugar alone, we are coming to understand the role saturated fat plays in its development. When type 2 diabetics stop eating meat (a major contributing source of saturated fat), their blood sugar levels typically improve.
To find out the specific foods to eat and avoid for type 2 diabetes prevention (and reversal), read our article here.
Alzheimer’s & Neurodegenerative Disease
Believe it or not, even Alzheimer’s and neurodegenerative disease patients can benefit from a plant-based diet. While there are few documented cases of reversal, most are preventable. In fact, a comprehensive report conducted by husband and wife team, Drs. Dean and Ayesha Sherzai concluded that over 90% of Alzheimer’s cases are preventable.
Much of this prevention is achievable with lifestyle strategies, and whole foods plant-based nutrition is one of the most consequential strategies of all. Additional research has shown that this may be due in part to the brain-gut connection. A poor diet disrupts the gut microbiota, contributing to inflammation in the body and affecting the central nervous system and, ultimately, the brain. One study found that inflammation, gut dysbiosis, and leaky gut may contribute to the process of neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s patients.
For more on how diet affects Alzheimer’s and brain health, check out this article by Dr. Michael