Ex­actly How Much Dif­fer­ence A Ve­gan Diet Can Make

Trillions - - In This Issue -

Many have preached the health ben­e­fits of a purely plant-based ve­gan diet for years. Even for the ma­jor­ity of those read­ing this, and even for those who don’t fol­low that kind of diet, it comes across as a ‘good thing’. But how many know pre­cisely the kind of dif­fer­ence such a diet can make to one’s life?

For those cu­ri­ous about the an­swer, look at these re­sults. In a re­cent test in­volv­ing 19 nurses, after rig­or­ously fol­low­ing a plant-based diet pro­vided by a doc­tor:

14 of 19 low­ered choles­terol by 18 mg/dl on av­er­age, with 6 see­ing a drop of be­tween 45 to 60 mg/dl

10 of 19, just over half the sub­jects, lost weight with an av­er­age 4.4 pounds and a range from 1.5 to 9 pounds

6 of the 19, or 30%, felt more en­er­gized

8 of the 19, or 41%, felt highly sat­is­fied with their health after the diet ver­sus only 1 be­fore the diet

All that hap­pened in only 21 days. Three weeks. Even bet­ter, after the diet was fin­ished the nurses as a whole made a de­ci­sion to con­tinue to eat more fruit and veg­eta­bles as part of their daily con­sump­tion. They also cut back on their pre­vi­ous con­sump­tion of meat and dairy prod­ucts.

They also did all this with­out fol­low­ing any strict rules about por­tion size or calo­ries. The sole ground rule was to eat ve­gan, based on lists pro­vided by the med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als su­per­vis­ing.

Get­ting ex­cited now?

These re­sults were re­ported in the March 2017 is­sue of the Amer­i­can Jour­nal of Nurs­ing, AJN, in the ar­ti­cle “A Plant-based Nu­tri­tion Pro­gram”.

How We Are Sys­tem­at­i­cally Killing Our­selves with Our Di­ets

As a so-called civ­i­liza­tion with such pride in ed­u­ca­tion, Amer­i­cans are re­mark­ably stupid about their nor­mal di­etary choices.

Ac­cord­ing to the Agri­cul­tural Re­search Ser­vice (ARS) of the United States, the top 10 foods Amer­i­cans ate as re­ported dur­ing the 2003-2006 Na­tional Health and Nu­tri­tion Ex­am­i­na­tion Sur­vey were:

1. Sweets in­clud­ing Cake, Cook­ies, Quick Bread, Pies and Pas­tries

2. Yeast Breads and Rolls

3. Soft Drinks

4. Beef

5. Snack items such as Crack­ers, Pop­corn, Pret­zels and Chips

6. Cheese

7. Milk

8. Candy, sug­ars and sug­ary foods

9. Poul­try

10. Al­co­holic Bev­er­ages

No­tice the com­plete lack of veg­eta­bles or fruit, other than as put in what the ARS refers to as ‘com­bi­na­tion foods’? The lack of fiber and ac­cess to vi­ta­mins such a diet en­tails can be dev­as­tat­ing. Plus the high car­bo­hy­drate count and in­take of pro­cessed foods such as flour and sugar makes this all even worse.

It is also – both metaphor­i­cally and fig­u­ra­tively – just ‘ic­ing on the cake’ that many of the veg­etable items in­cluded in the above ‘com­bi­na­tion foods’ de­rive from Ge­net­i­cally-mod­i­fied items such as wheat and corn. Those items, along with their part­ner pes­ti­cides such as ‘likely car­cino­gen’ glyphosate makes eat­ing much of this even more haz­ardous to our health.

With this as what peo­ple are bring­ing into their bod­ies, it is no sur­prise that over two-thirds of all Amer­i­cans are over­weight or even obese, with their diet also con­tribut­ing to can­cer, di­a­betes, and other dis­eases. This ‘nor­mal’ diet also con­trib­utes to coro­nary heart dis­ease, a con­di­tion that kills one in four of those liv­ing in the United States. More than 73 mil­lion Amer­i­cans – or al­most one in four of the 323 mil­lion to­tal pop­u­la­tion – have choles­terol lev­els be­yond rec­om­mended limits.

This is de­spite all the re­search pub­lished to date which shows such a diet can deal with all of that – and even help ev­ery­one’s chances in com­ing down with can­cer.

So there is def­i­nitely good cause for look­ing at such a diet.

How the Study Started

The ge­n­e­sis of this par­tic­u­lar in­ves­ti­ga­tion of plant-based di­ets started on a per­sonal ba­sis, with nurses al­ready in­volved at three of Ge­orge Ma­son Univer­sity’s fac­ulty-lead com­mu­nity health clin­ics.

The trig­ger was a pre­sen­ta­tion by Joanne Evans to the group on the sub­ject of plant-based nu­tri­tion and the im­pacts it could have on health. After that pre­sen­ta­tion, the group made the de­ci­sion to pro­ceed with a 21-day study to see what it could do for them as a group. It be­gan at the be­gin­ning of the fall se­mes­ter at the Univer­sity.

What They Ate

To be com­pletely clear on the pro­gram, for the pur­poses of this study the plant-based diet avail­able to the nurses dur­ing this study cen­tered on the four food groups of fruits, veg­eta­bles, whole grains and legumes, with seeds and nuts added to the diet. No Meat, seafood, eggs, or dairy prod­ucts were al­lowed. No highly-pro­cessed foods such as oils, sugar, and flour were al­lowed ei­ther.

So this was dif­fer­ent and stricter from what is known as a veg­e­tar­ian diet, since that may al­low dairy, eggs, and some highly-pro­cessed foods to the mix.

The spe­cific diet to be fol­lowed was a diet plan called the 21-Day Ve­gan Kick­start pro­gram. It was de­vel­oped by the Physi­cians Com­mit­tee for Re­spon­si­ble Medicine, an ad­vo­cacy group which pro­motes the use of plant-based di­ets to pre­vent and man­age chronic dis­ease. The diet is avail­able free for all to view and down­load at: http://www. pcrm. org/ kick­starthome/ mealplan/ week- 1. Weeks 1 is shown on the first page; weeks 2 and 3 are avail­able at a click of the menu, also for free.

For those in­ter­ested in fol­low­ing this kind of pro­gram them­selves, a sec­ond diet plan called the Mc­dougall Pro­gram was also rec­om­mended.

On­go­ing Ed­u­ca­tional and Dis­cus­sion Events Dur­ing the Pro­gram

Along with the eat­ing part, some­thing dif­fer­ent in this pro­gram ver­sus what might be con­sid­ered a ‘do-it your­self was the ‘on­go­ing ed­u­ca­tion’ part of the ac­tiv­ity.

Fea­tured events in­cluded a ma­jor kick­off pre­sen­ta­tion, re­view of re­search on the ad­van­tages of plant-based di­ets, re­view of the re­search of how so-called nor­mal di­ets are in fact killing many of us, and both for­mal and in­for­mal dis­cus­sions about each of the food groups be­ing con­sumed in the diet.

The pro­gram in­cluded in­ter­ac­tive we­bi­nars run by Joanne Evans that fo­cused on the op­er­a­tional parts of the pro­gram, open dis­cus­sions of how the nurses in­volved in the pro­gram were feel­ing dur­ing the trial pe­riod, along with both chal­lenges and pos­i­tives of the on­go­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

An­other part of the train­ing in­cluded a watch­ing “Forks Over Knives”, a doc­u­men­tary read­ily avail­able through a num­ber of on­line stream­ing ser­vices. It con­tains hard data and strong conclusions about the many health ben­e­fits of purely plant-based di­ets.

As a whole, the on­go­ing ed­u­ca­tional pro­gram helped re­in­force what in some cases were dif­fi­cult shifts to make for many in­volved. Be­sides the sense of ‘with­drawal’ from the more ad­dic­tive types of foods (such as highly-pro­cessed and sugar-laden foods), there was also the oc­ca­sional dif­fi­culty of work­ing this new diet into the nor­mal flow of life. This last part was es­pe­cially present for nurses and their fam­i­lies at home.

Post-diet Re­sults

As noted above, many of the med­i­cal health met­rics showed dra­matic changes for the nurses in the study.

Ma­jor high­lights in­cluded:

Choles­terol lev­els drop­ping from an av­er­age level of 203 mg/dl be­fore the pro­gram to 185 mg/dl after the three weeks

Weight losses av­er­ag­ing 4.4 pounds per per­son

En­ergy went up sig­nif­i­cantly, with 11% feel­ing their diet sat­is­fied them in this way be­fore the pro­gram, and 44% feel­ing that way after they con­cluded the 21-day plan

Peo­ple there­fore not only felt bet­ter after the ex­per­i­ment and ac­tu­ally were bet­ter on mul­ti­ple scales. And while three weeks is clearly too short a time to demon­strate the full re­sults many months or years of such a diet might pro­vide, the ev­i­dence re­ported even in that short time was very clear to the par­tic­i­pants them­selves. Be­cause while just 6% of them felt ‘highly sat­is­fied’ be­fore the pro­gram, 44% felt that way after the pro­gram.

An im­proper diet is the lead­ing cause of pre­ma­ture death and chronic ill­ness in many coun­tries. The Amer­i­can diet is es­pe­cially dis­ease caus­ing and a ma­jor rea­son that Amer­i­cans spend so much on health care yet are get­ting sicker.

Diet is also a huge fac­tor in cli­mate change and en­vi­ron­ment de­gre­da­tion. Many sci­en­tists be­lieve that hu­man­ity is lit­er­ally eat­ing it­self to prob­a­ble ex­tinc­tion.

Now is a good time to change your diet and help change the world.

For more in­for­ma­tion on the im­por­tance of a smart diet please read “How a Smart Diet Could Save the World” in the March is­sue of Tril­lions mag­a­zine.

Photo by Raw Re­li­gion, CC

Photo by Robert Owen-wahl, CC

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