Posted on Aug 17, 2020, 4 p.m.
Article courtesy of: Dr. Joel Kahn, MD, who is a Clinical Professor of Medicine at Wayne State University School of Medicine, one of the world's top cardiologists, best selling author, lecturer, and a leading expert in plant-based nutrition and holistic care.
Making optimal decisions on your diet choices is one of the most important parameters of achieving and maintaining long-term health. Unfortunately, the media loves to twist poor quality data and a barrage of erroneous reports have claimed it is safe again to load your plates with meats, cheeses, butters, and eggs. Nothing could be further from the truth and a recent high-quality review identified the risks of these foods and the high saturated content they contain. Indeed, the last 2 months has seen a flood of new data and science indicating plant diets have benefits head to toe. Here we review this “explosion” of new and recent science for you to apply to your own health.
Brain and Cognitive Health
1) To examine associations between a plant-based dietary pattern and cognitive functioning, 3,039 older adults who participated in the 2011-2014 waves of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) were studied. Greater adherence to a dietary pattern consistent with a plant-based diet was related to better performance on all cognitive tasks. Secondary analyses indicated that the associations between a plant-based dietary pattern and executive function accounted for the association between a plant-based dietary pattern and memory.
2) Using data from the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA), multiple linear regression was employed using two verbal fluency tests as a test for cognition. Low amounts of pulses/nuts or fruit/vegetables were identified as a factor in scoring at the lower level of verbal fluency.
3) A research team reviewed data from two NIA-funded longitudinal study populations: The Chicago Health and Aging Project (CHAP)(link is external) and the Memory and Aging Project (MAP)(link is external). The resulting data pool included 1,845 participants from CHAP and 920 from MAP. There were 5 factors that predicted avoidance of Alzheimer’s disease over time. One of these was a high-quality diet pattern called the MIND diet, which combines the Mediterranean diet and Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. The MIND diet focuses on plant-based foods linked to dementia prevention.
Heart, Longevity, and Congestive Heart Failure
4) In a prospective cohort study that analyzed 416,104 men and women in the US, overall mortality and cause-specific mortality regarding diet and protein intake were determined. Great dietary plant protein intake was associated with reduced overall mortality for both men and women. Replacement of 3% energy from animal protein with plant protein was inversely associated with overall mortality (risk decreased 10% in both men and women) and heart disease mortality (11% lower risk in men and 12% lower risk in women). In particular, the lower overall mortality was attributable primarily to substitution of plant protein for egg protein (24% lower risk in men and 21% lower risk in women) and red meat protein (13% lower risk in men and 15% lower risk in women).
5) Heart failure is a disease that increases the likelihood of morbidity and mortality with an increased direct and indirect cost to the healthcare system. The role of diet in the development, progression and treatment of heart failure is being studied with growing interest. The study identified three studies that used a plant-based diet as an intervention for heart failure. All interventional studies showed that plant-based diets have a positive impact on heart failure in terms of improved ejection fraction and improved heart anatomy.
6) A review article examined diet and healthy aging. They reviewed studies examining plant-based diets are rich in fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes. The risk of developing a metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes can be reduced by about 50%. This includes coronary artery disease and cerebral vascular disease. The risk of developing Alzheimer’s is also reduced by more than 50% through a vegetarian diet. The researchers also found that plant-based nutrition is associated with increased life expectancy. This is evidenced by the so-called “blue zones” of the world, in which the population lives mainly from plant foods. These are rich in phytochemicals and antioxidants and ensure a longer life expectancy.
7) Evidence suggests that a patient-centered plant-dominant low-protein diet (PLADO) of 0.6–0.8 g/kg/day composed of >50% plant-based source is promising and consistent with the precision nutrition. The scientific premise of the PLADO stems from the observations that high protein diets with high meat intake not only result in higher cardiovascular disease risk but also higher risk and progression of chronic kidney disease. A plant-dominant, fiber-rich, low-protein diet may lead to favorable alterations in the gut microbiome, which can modulate uremic toxin generation and slow CKD progression, along with reducing cardiovascular risk. PLADO is a heart-healthy, safe, flexible, and feasible diet that could be the centerpiece of a conservative and preservative CKD-management strategy that challenges the prevailing dialysis-centered paradigm.
Diabetes Type 2
8) To examine diet and diabetes type 2, a massive database from the 340,234 participants: EPIC-InterAct case-cohort study was analyzed. Higher plasma vitamin C from fruits and vegetables was associated with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Overall, the findings suggest that diets rich in even modestly higher fruit and vegetable consumption could help to prevent development of type 2 diabetes.
In just a short time span, 8 new research studies join a 9th recent analysis that confirmed that dietary choices lower in saturated fats from eggs, butter, lard, meats of all kinds and certain baked goods can slash heart disease risk. The 8 studies presented here indicate that the benefit is widespread, extending to brain health, kidney health, diabetes risk, and healthy aging and longevity. If you have been hesitating to adopt a plant diet, or if you are following a meat heavy ketogenic or Paleolithic diet, it is clear that the science indicates the one path to dietary health. That path is to spend your dollars in the produce department.
About the author:
At his core, Dr. Joel Kahn believes that plant-based nutrition is the most powerful source of preventative medicine on the planet. Having practiced traditional cardiology since 1983, it was only after his own commitment to a plant based vegan diet that he truly began to delve into the realm of non-traditional diagnostic tools, prevention tactics and nutrition-based recovery protocols.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement