How do we reduce the toll of disease in 2021 and beyond?
A new set of recommendations in the journal Frontiers in Medicine answers that question and prioritizes the research needed for the prevention, treatment, and reversal of chronic disease. The publication was authored by 40 experts, including Physicians Committee president Neal Barnard, MD, who gathered at the University of Pittsburgh last December for the Lifestyle Medicine Research Summit.
The experts mapped out types of research needed to solve modern health problems and to define research priorities in six core areas of lifestyle medicine: plant-predominant nutrition, physical activity, sleep, stress, addictive behaviors, and positive psychology and social connection.
As they looked at research from across the world, it became clear that lifestyle choices—more than genetics—are driving disease, with diet being at the top of the list.
Current research shows that plant-based diets can reverse heart disease, tackle diabetes, maintain a healthy weight, and reduce cancer risk. Based off these findings, the authors suggest continuing to look at how plant-based diets can fight disease. Further research will help to understand how to best refine and apply dietary intervention to help manage and prevent these conditions.
The authors also recommended that additional research and studies should be conducted with human-biology-based, nonanimal methods. They would like to see studies prioritize children and understudied, underserved, and disadvantaged populations.
As the publication states, “These studies will help us ‘close the gap’ between what is known and what needs to be discovered to accelerate the further development and deployment of lifestyle medicine practices.”
What Research Is Needed to Solve Modern Health Problems?
Co-author Dr. Neal Barnard further talks about the why this research is so important to the future of medicine.