Doctors should have a rudimentary knowledge of the benefits of plant-based diet for six health conditions

A new comment in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine says that all doctors should be aware of the benefits of a plant-based diet for six health conditions: weight loss and maintenance, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, disease of Alzheimer’s and COVID-19. .

“The field of medicine, despite its prominent influence on society, has invested little in promoting healthy living options,” says co-author Saray Stancic, MD, FACLM, director of medical education for the Committee of Physicians for Responsible Medicine. “The consequence of this is reflected in our ever-increasing chronic disease statistics, especially rates of obesity and diabetes.”

Part of the problem, the authors say, is that “medical schools offer an anemic number of hours of nutrition education in 4 years,” which does not improve on graduate education. They point out that in a recent survey of more than 600 cardiologists, 90% reported that they had not received the necessary nutritional education during training.

The comment acknowledges that not all physicians need to be nutrition experts, but says they should at least have a rudimentary knowledge of the benefits of a plant-based diet for these six conditions, for which they provide detailed evidence, including there are the following:

  1. Weight loss and maintenance. A study of 70,000 people found that those who ate a vegan diet weighed about 9 pounds less than those who did not. They also had a reduced risk of death.
  2. Cardiovascular disease. Animal products are rich in saturated fats and cholesterol, which are key factors in cardiovascular disease. But a recent meta-analysis found that those on a vegetarian diet reduced “bad” LDL cholesterol by 13 mg / dl. Another analysis found a 24% lower heart disease death rate among vegetarians compared to omnivores.
  3. Cancer. Adopting healthy behaviors, which include staying physically active and consuming diets rich in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, has the potential to reduce the risk of breast cancer by up to 50-70%. Research also shows that diets that include soy and are high in fiber reduce the risk of breast cancer. Dairy-rich diets increase the risk of prostate cancer. High-fiber diets reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, while daily consumption of red and processed meat increases your risk.
  4. Diabetes. A Harvard study, which included participants in the follow-up study of health professionals, the nurses ‘health study, and the nurses’ health study II, concluded that those who consumed a diet based on plants could expect a 34% reduction in the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  5. Alzheimer’s disease. One study found that those who adhered to the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet were primarily plant-based, focusing on healthy foods for the brain, such as green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, beans, berries, nuts, and whole grains had a 60% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
  6. COVID-19[FEMALETheCOVID-19studywasbasedonHarvard’ssmartphonesandfoundthatthosewhousedtoconsumeadietbasedmainlyonplantshada41%reductionintheriskofCOVID-19anda9%reductionininfection[FEMININEL’estudiCOVID-19basatentelèfonsintel·ligentsdeHarvardvatrobarqueenaquellsquevanconsumirunadietaprincipalmentbasadaenplanteshihaviaunareducciódel41%delriscdeCOVID-19greuaixícomunareducciódel9%delainfecciódequalsevolgravetat

“It’s time for all doctors around the world to talk about the importance of diet and lifestyle in health,” concludes the comment, which recommends that doctors do so by advising patients, ensuring that hospitals provide healthy menus, giving lectures to the community, writing articles. , using social media and commenting on the media.

Dr. Stancic will present “What Every Doctor Needs to Know About Nutrition” at the International Conference on Nutrition in Medicine in Washington, DC, August 18-20.


Committee of Physicians for Responsible Medicine

Magazine reference:

Stancic, S., et al. (2022) Six applications of plant-based diets for health promotion. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine.

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