Fruits, veggies, whole grains: the unanimous choice for chronic disease management

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Clinical practice guidelines from across the world show a remarkable similarity when it comes to dietary recommendations for preventing, managing, and treating major chronic diseases.

A new meta-epidemiological study reveals that clinicians can confidently recommend the consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains to their patients.

The American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) conducted a comprehensive review of 78 clinical practice guidelines.

These guidelines, published between 2010 and 2021, were from North America, Europe, and Asia. The results were published in Advances in Nutrition.

Unanimous Recommendations

The study found that the guidelines uniformly recommended encouraging the daily intake of plant-based food sources. At the same time, they advised limiting consumption of alcohol, salt, or sodium.

These findings are essential because patients often express confusion due to contradictory dietary advice from fad diets and pseudo-experts on the internet.

The Importance of the Study

The results of this review can benefit clinicians and patients by reducing variability in dietary and nutritional guidance.

This can help clinicians provide optimal care and help patients make informed dietary choices for chronic disease management.

Recommendations in Detail

Among food groups, a significant proportion of clinical practice guidelines recommended including or increasing the intake of vegetables (74%), fruits (69%), whole grains (58%), and legumes (47%).

Conversely, they advised limiting or reducing the intake of red meat (32%), processed meat (27%), and refined grains (19%).

Among food components, most guidelines recommended decreasing or limiting alcohol (62%) and salt or sodium (56%). The most recommended food components were vegetable oils (35%) and soy protein (18%).

Aligning with ACLM’s Recommendations

The findings align with ACLM’s recommendations, which suggest a dietary plan based predominantly on a variety of minimally processed vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds for managing lifestyle-related chronic diseases.

Diet’s Role in Global Health

The Global Burden of Disease Report has confirmed that an unhealthy diet is responsible for more deaths globally than any other risk factor, including tobacco smoking.

This study, the first to compare dietary recommendations across current clinical practice guidelines for multiple major chronic diseases, highlights the importance of informed dietary guidance.

Addressing Public Health Threats

The growing prevalence of overweight and obesity and associated chronic conditions is a significant public health threat.

It’s crucial for healthcare professionals to be fully informed and confident when offering dietary recommendations to patients.

The results of this study can serve as a foundation for such knowledge, facilitating better patient outcomes.

The study was published in Advances in Nutrition.

If you care about nutrition, please read studies about how the Mediterranean diet could protect your brain health, and the best time to take vitamins to prevent heart disease.

For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies that olive oil may help you live longer, and vitamin D could help lower the risk of autoimmune diseases.

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