Tag Archives: Vegan

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.

Swedish Vegan Jonas Von Essen Again Claims the World Memory Championship!

A plant-based diet can do more than keep you healthy and improve your mood—it boosts brainpower too, if the experience of 23-year-old Swedish student Jonas Von Essen is any example. On Dec. 14, for the second year in a row, Von Essen won the World Memory Championship, a competition that attracts entrants from dozens of countries who complete a wide range of mental challenges. One of his most impressive feats included memorizing 26 packs of cards in one hour. Von Essen has followed a plant-based diet for several years, helping him through both his victory this year in China and in the 2013 competition in the U.K.

How does a vegan diet help the brain? Meat and other animal products contain saturated fat, which rapidly increases blood viscosity (“thickness”). The result, apparently, is diminished blood flow and poorer oxygenation. Plant foods provide beneficial antioxidants that can improve your health and lower your cholesterol, increasing the blood flow to your brain.

Endurance athletes have used vegan diets for many years, and those aiming for maximal cognitive function may want to choose them as well.

For more information on how a plant-based diet can boost brainpower and improve memory, visit PowerFoodsfortheBrain.org.

 

2015 Will Be the Year 4 out of 5 Doctors Agree: Plants Over Pills

In January, Physicians Committee doctors and dietitians filled the National Institutes of Health to present our recommendations to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. Staring down representatives from the meat and dairy industries, we made a solid case for the inclusion of plant-based diets in the guidelines. And you know what? They listened.

Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., presenting her recommendations to the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.

Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., presenting her recommendations to the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.

During the advisory committee’s recent meeting, subcommittee members emphasized the importance of reducing meat consumption and switching to plant-based diets for both health and environmental sustainability.

While we still have to wait till Fall 2015 to learn the advisory committee’s final recommendations, doctors around the country are recognizing the importance of plants over pills. In 2013, Kaiser Permanente, one of the nation’s largest nonprofit health plans, sent out a nutritional update to physicians, urging health care providers to recommend a plant-based diet to their patients. Kim Williams, M.D., the next president of the American College of Cardiology, penned a blog for MedPage Today explaining why he went vegan and how recommending a vegan diet has helped his patients.

Individuals have also seen success in seeking out plant-based diets themselves. CNN recently profiled Benji Kurtz, a 37-year-old entrepreneur from Atlanta who lost 100 pounds—while improving his blood pressure and cholesterol levels—by researching and following a plant-based diet. Celebrities like Beyoncé and JLo have tweeted, Instagrammed, and blogged about their meatless meals, providing inspiration to their millions of fans and pushing plant-based diets into the pop culture spotlight.

Going forward, if the dietary guidelines committee resists the influence of meat and dairy lobbyists and follows the recommendations of health care professionals, then more people may see success like Mr. Kurtz or Dr. Williams’ patients. In the meantime, let’s all keep publicizing the science, sharing vegan recipes, and boosting this public shift toward support for vegan diets. Maybe 2015 will be the year that the government, doctors, and celebrities all find one thing they can agree on: Plant-based is best.

2015

Interested in viewing a webcast of the fourth meeting of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Committee? Click here.

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