Tag Archives: Studies

Nine Plant-Based Studies We Published in 2014

Last year, my colleagues and I published numerous studies investigating the effects of nutrition on health. Our research showed that eating meat is a risk factor for diabetes, while getting away from the “bad” fats in meat and dairy products can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s—or even improve productivity at the office!

To discuss all of the research surrounding the benefits of plant-based diets, we’ll be hosting a tweet chat on Jan. 22. To join in, follow #PlantBasedRx on Twitter or click here: http://twubs.com/PlantBasedRx

15010-COM JAND Study Tweet Chat Graphic v2

Here are nine of our top studies from 2014:

1. Vegetarian Diets and Blood Pressure: A Meta-Analysis

Vegetarian diets reduce blood pressure. This meta-analysis compares blood pressure from more than 21,000 people around the world and finds study participants who follow a vegetarian diet have lower systolic blood pressure and lower diastolic blood pressure, compared with people who consume an omnivorous diet.

Yokoyama Y, Nishimura K, Barnard ND, et al. Vegetarian diets and blood pressure: a meta-analysis. JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174:577-587. 

2. Meat Consumption as a Risk Factor for Type 2 Diabetes

This review showed that consuming meat products is associated with diabetes. Just as overweight, physical inactivity, and high blood pressure are considered risk factors for type 2 diabetes, research shows meat consumption carries similar risks.

Barnard ND, Levin SM, Trapp C. Meat consumption as a risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Nutrients. 2014;6:897-910.

3. The GEICO Study

Not only can adopting a vegan diet improve cholesterol and weight, but such a dietary change can improve signs of depression and anxiety, and boost productivity at work.

Agarwal U, Mishra S, Xu J, Levin S, Gonzales J, Barnard N. A multicenter randomized controlled trial of a nutrition intervention program in a multiethnic adult population in the corporate setting reduces depression and anxiety and improves quality of life: the GEICO Study. Am J Health Promot. Published ahead of print February 13, 2014.

4. Applying the Precautionary Principle

Research continues to show that plant-based foods reduce the risk of cancer and strengthen the chance of survival after diagnosis. While more research is needed in this area, this publication presents a set of six precautionary principles to reduce the risk of occurrence:

Gonzales JF, Barnard ND, Jenkins DJ, et al. Applying the precautionary principle to nutrition and cancer. J Am Coll Nutr. 2014;33:239-246.

5. Saturated and Trans Fats and Dementia: A Systematic Review

This review, which examined the diets and brain health of almost 20,000 participants, showed that reducing saturated and trans fat intake reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Barnard ND, Bunner AE, Agarwal U. Saturated and trans fats and dementia: a systematic review. Neurobiol Aging. 2014;35:S65-S73.

6. Dietary and Lifestyle Guidelines for the Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease

Leading researchers in the field of brain health developed seven diet and lifestyle guidelines for Alzheimer’s disease prevention that offer practical steps for the public.

Barnard ND, Bush AI, Ceccarelli A, et al. Dietary and lifestyle guidelines for the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. Neurobiol Aging. 2014;35:S74-S78.

7. A New Model for Health Care

I highlighted the benefits of low-fat, plant-based diets when I was the keynote speaker at the Washington Academy of Sciences 2014 Awards Banquet on May 8. I challenged fellow physicians to consider diet and lifestyle changes not as “alternative” therapy, but rather as a conventional approach to chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.

Barnard ND. A new model for health care. J Wash Acad Sci. 2014;100:23-43.

8. Nutrition Intervention for Migraine: A Randomized Trial

An intervention study conducted at the Physician Committee’s offices showed that a nutritional approach to migraine pain may improve headache intensity and frequency.

Bunner AE, Agarwal U, Gonzales JF, Valente F, Barnard ND. Nutrition intervention for migraine: a randomized crossover trial. J Headache Pain. 2014;15:69.

9. Vegetarian Diets and Glycemic Control in Diabetes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

People with diabetes looking for a more powerful treatment should consider a plant-based diet, according to this study by our team of American and Japanese researchers. Combining the results of six prior studies, we found that a plant-based diet significantly improves blood sugar control in type 2 diabetes.

Yokoyama Y, Barnard ND, Levin SM, Watanabe M. Vegetarian diets and glycemic control in diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Cardiovasc Diagn Ther. 2014;4:373-382.

Vegetables Less Healthy than Fried Chicken? Don’t Fall for Clickbait Headlines.

Catchy headlines equal clicks, clicks equal readers, and readers equal money. It’s a formula the ever-changing news industry uses more frequently, as newsrooms get smaller and readers move quickly to the next trending topic.

benefits-of-eating-vegetables

So it’s no surprise that when PloS One published a study that offered the counterintuitive assertion that vegetarians are unhealthy, news outlets jumped in with “clickbait” headlines.

No, it wasn’t true. But it was a very clickable message. And in case you were drawn into that headline, here’s the truth behind it:

An Austrian research team wanted to see how different diets affected health. But because they did not have enough vegetarians to study, they lumped together people eating fish and people who ate meat only occasionally—and called them all “vegetarians.” And, indeed, this group looked less healthy overall than the dyed-in-the-wool carnivores.

However, the study looked at individuals during a snapshot in time and did not separate cause and effect. For example, individuals with health problems who adopted a fish/vegetarian diet in hopes of losing weight or curing heart disease were lumped in with others who had followed a fish/vegetarian diet for many years. The researchers themselves note this on page six:

“Potential limitations of our results are due to the fact that the survey was based on cross-sectional data. Therefore, no statements can be made whether the poorer health in vegetarians in our study is caused by their dietary habit or if they consume this form of diet due to their poorer health status.”

Large prospective studies and randomized clinical trials showed just the opposite: vegetarians have much better health, compared with non-vegetarians. They have lower rates of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and lower BMIs. The Physicians Committee’s recent multicenter GEICO study also showed better quality of life. Another recent study showed that eating seven servings of fruits and vegetables per day increases longevity.

So if someone at the water cooler starts telling you about how they’ll be swapping their smoothies for sausage patties, let them know that just because it’s trending, doesn’t mean it’s true.

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