A recent study highlights the importance of doctors being aware of the benefits of a plant-based diet for six specific health conditions: weight loss and maintenance, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and COVID-19.
The research was published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine.
Lack of Nutrition Education
The study addresses the concerning issue that a survey of over 600 cardiologists revealed that 90% reported not receiving sufficient nutrition education during their training.
While not all physicians need to be nutrition experts, the paper argues that they should possess a basic understanding of the benefits of a plant-based diet for the following conditions:
Weight Loss and Maintenance
A study involving 70,000 participants found that individuals following a vegan diet weighed approximately 9 pounds less than those who did not. Additionally, they had a reduced risk of death.
Animal products are known to be high in saturated fat and cholesterol, which are major contributors to cardiovascular disease.
However, recent meta-analyses have shown that individuals adhering to a vegetarian diet experienced a decrease in LDL “bad” cholesterol levels by 13 mg/dl.
Another analysis demonstrated a 24% lower rate of heart disease deaths among vegetarians compared to omnivores.
Adopting healthy behaviors, such as maintaining physical activity and consuming diets rich in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, has the potential to reduce the risk of breast cancer by as much as 50-70%.
Research also indicates that diets incorporating soy and high fiber content reduce the risk of breast cancer, while diets high in dairy products increase the risk of prostate cancer.
High-fiber diets have been shown to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, whereas daily consumption of red and processed meat increases its risk.
A study conducted by Harvard, which included participants from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, Nurses’ Health Study, and Nurses’ Health Study II, concluded that individuals who followed a plant-based diet could expect a 34% reduction in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Research has found that individuals who adhered to the primarily plant-based Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet, which emphasizes brain-healthy foods such as green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, beans, berries, nuts, and whole grains, had a 60% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Harvard’s smartphone-based COVID-19 study revealed that individuals who followed a primarily plant-based diet experienced a 41% reduction in the risk of severe COVID-19 and a 9% reduction in the risk of any severity of infection.
The researchers assert that it is time for physicians worldwide to recognize and communicate the importance of diet and lifestyle in promoting overall health and well-being.
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