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Health

Plant-based diets linked to reduced risk of major diseases, large study finds: ScienceAlert

Generally speaking, a plant-based diet appears to be the best option for human health and longevity.

This is the conclusion reached by scientists after conducting a global analysis of more than 20 years of data.

By carefully studying scientific literature published between 2000 and 2023, a team led by MD Angelo Capodici of the University of Bologna in Italy found that humans who follow vegetarian and vegan diets tend to have better results in health matters in several areas.

This doesn’t mean you should immediately cut meat out of your diet, as individuals’ dietary needs can vary widely. What this suggests is that dietary changes could be a much more powerful tool than we thought for improving health outcomes, if it can be done safely.

Over the past decade, many people have adopted a plant-based diet for a variety of reasons, to improve their health, reduce their grocery costs, or reduce their environmental impact. This consumption of green vegetables comes with a significant increase in data on plant-based eating, and that’s what Capodici and colleagues analyzed.

A general review is like a scientific super-journal: a study that collects, organizes and analyzes data from previous reviews and meta-analyses of previous research. So a review might cover, for example, a series of different articles that have examined vegetarianism and the consequences of cancer. Another might be interested in cardiovascular health.

Numerous studies show how the food we eat affects health, with diets high in red and processed meat, refined grains and added sugar identified as a risk factor for problems such as cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer .

With diet being one of the relatively easy variables to change, Capodici and colleagues wanted to take a closer look at the impact of a plant-based diet on the risk of these diseases; Cardiovascular disease and cancer are the two leading causes of death and disability worldwide.

They studied 48 reviews and meta-analyses conducted between January 2000 and June 2023 and found that vegetarian and vegan diets were associated with better health on a number of risk factors for cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Overall, these plant-based diets were associated with better cholesterol levels and blood sugar control, lower body mass index, and less inflammation compared to those of omnivorous eaters. People following a plant-based diet had a lower risk of cancer and heart disease, as well as a lower mortality rate from cardiovascular disease.

The team noted, however, that vegan and vegetarian pregnant women did not have a significantly lower risk of gestational diabetes and hypertension.

They were also careful not to draw conclusions that plant-based foods were the sole cause of these health improvements.

“It was also described that vegetarians, in addition to reduced meat consumption, ate fewer refined grains, added fats, sweets, snacks and caloric drinks than non-vegetarians and consumed more of a wide variety of plant foods,” the team said. writing.

So it seems entirely reasonable that an omnivore could experience significant health benefits, not necessarily by reducing or eliminating meat, but by eating fewer processed foods and foods high in added fats and sugars.

It should also be noted that plant-based diets can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies; and, of course, many health conditions, such as allergies and gastrointestinal disorders, require a careful and tailored dietary approach.

The results of the new analysis are also subject to limitations of the original studies. For this reason, researchers caution against widespread adoption of plant-based diets. Rather, they believe that more targeted and specific research should be conducted to determine why these diets are positively correlated with better health.

“Our study,” say the researchers, “evaluates the different impacts of animal-free diets on cardiovascular health and cancer risk, showing how a vegetarian diet can benefit human health and be one of the effective preventive strategies for the two most impactful chronic diseases on human health in the 21st century.

The results were published in PLOS ONE.

News Source : www.sciencealert.com
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