The leading cause of death in the world is heart disease. It accounts for about 30% of all deaths and is most prominent in middle-income and high-income countries. If you were to examine the diets of these countries, you would find high concentrations of hydrogenated fat, meat, dairy and fast foods. The number one cause of heart disease is the food we consume, so it should be no surprise when we hear of these statistics considering the average diet. If we examine further chronic illnesses like, cancer, diabetes, and obesity, they account for about 35% percent of all deaths annually. The good news is, these numbers do not have to be like this. Forward thinking scientists over the course of the last few decades have made it quite clear that eating a diet mainly consisting of plans, fruits, nuts and seeds promotes optimal health. Add a healthy lifestyle of joy and exercise and chronic illness is greatly reduced.
There have been numerous studies performed that provide solid evidence towards that fact that getting the majority of calories from plant-based foods greatly lowers the risk of disease. One of the most advanced studies ever performed on the subject was The China Study. In The China Study, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Professor Emeritus at Cornell University, details the connection between nutrition and heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Recognized as the most comprehensive nutritional study ever conducted on the relationship between diet and the risk of developing disease, The China Study cuts through the haze of misinformation and examines the source of nutritional confusion produced by government entities, lobbies, and opportunistic scientists.
Research published in the magazine Food Technology illustrates how recent nutritional discoveries demonstrate the fact that plant-based diets are essential to avoid chronic disease. Bioactive compounds in plant based foods interact with cells, enzymes, hormones and DNA which affects gene expression and cell changes — the interaction helps to greatly reduce chronic disease. Evidence demonstrates that inflammation is often found to be the root cause of most chronic diseases, and antioxidants from natural foods eaten raw or minimally cooked counter free radicals that fan the flames of inflammation and damage cellular form and function while altering DNA integrity as well.
Bio-compounds from plants are effective in controlling a gene that has been linked to cardiovascular disease and plaque buildup in arteries. As covered in The China Study, a plant based diet can actually help rebuild and repair artery walls which were once destroyed by animal cholesterol. While a planet-based diet can be seen as a cure for certain diseases, it is often better to prevent problems than to ever require a cure. This can effectively be done by consuming a highly plan-based diet.
“Prevention is always better than a cure… foods that may help prevent cancer and other chronic diseases include artichokes, black pepper, cinnamon, garlic, lentils, olives, pumpkin, rosemary, thyme, watercress, and more.”
Dr. William Li, President and Medical Director of the Angiogenesis Foundation in Cambridge, MA
As Hippocrates put it many many years ago, “Let food be thy medicine.” Not only can this suggest that a diet of healthy foods is a great form of medicine, but that constantly consuming a diet like this will help reduce the need for medicine all together. While some of us may speculate over which foods are healthy, it is my opinion that diets containing plants, fruit, nuts, and limited healthy organic starch is what is healthy. Scientific and medical research helps to demonstrate this especially as we examine the most popular diseases and their causes. This does not mean one cannot be healthy while eating a diet including fast foods, hydrogenated fats and animal products, it simply means the risk of disease greatly increases over time. I also feel that with a properly timed transition, most would agree they are much healthier and feel much better while consuming a cleaner diet. It is often that a “bad-name” is given to these diets because people looking to transition do it too quickly, incorrectly or are eating large amounts of processed vegan or vegetarian foods.
If you are looking to transition to a healthier diet, or have questions about diet. Check out our friends at Grounded Nutrition.