You may want to sit down, because I’m about to lay some serious facts on you.
Need an extra push to take the plant-based plunge? Want some factual back-up next time someone challenges your dietary choices? Hoping to convince friends or loved ones to get healthier?
This may do the trick.
A hundred years ago, scientists studied 4,600 cancer patients over the course of seven years. Their findings? Increased consumption of animal products was the culprit.
Today, the latest science confirms that mortality (from heart disease, stroke and other fatal illness) is lower in patients eating plant-based diets. And let’s not forget the lower rates of cancer and diabetes, too!
These results are even more surprising when you stop and consider that many of the subjects of these studies didn’t go vegetarian or plant-based until later in life. For example, in one of the largest studies on the topic, up to a third of patients had eaten vegetarian for less than five years at the time of research.
And it didn’t matter—their rates of heart disease were still lower than their meat-eating counterparts.
Under 60 or over 60. Overweight or not. Smoker or non-smoker. It didn’t matter. Those who followed a meat-free diet were at lower risk. Period. What’s more, these results suggest that we can reverse a lifetime of risk-increasing dietary behavior in a matter of years!
Let’s look at the inverse situation for a moment. Take countries where residents have switched from traditional (generally plant-based) diets to a westernized (American Standard) diet. It doesn’t happen immediately, but after a couple decades cancer rates will increase significantly. Keep in mind that it can also take decades for cancer tumors to develop.
In many Asian nations, for example, major dietary changes have coincided with increased breast, colon, and prostate cancers—and mortality based on these causes. Now doesn’t that seem suspicious?
Same goes for immigrant communities. Studies have indicated that men who move from rural China to the U.S. will experience a hugely increased risk for cancer. (Again, remember: it takes time—decades, even—to see the outcome of these shifts, the diseases themselves.)
But maybe even more importantly, remember that compared to those decades, it may take just a few years to reverse those risks!
So, should we all start eating plant-based?
Well, that’s what many of these studies seem to suggest. After finding that a plant-based or vegetarian diet leads to lower mortality—or, to put it in positive terms, longer and healthier lives!—it’s hard to come to any other conclusion, isn’t it?
For those of you unwilling to totally give up meat, you’ll be happy to learn that these studies did find positive outcomes for “partial vegetarians” as well (those who ate meat no more than once a week). In my personal experience, plant-based is where it’s at, but if we’re trying to reach as many healthy ladies as possible, then maybe the “partial vegetarian” option is a good place to start.
Whether you’re ready for the full-on plant-based life, or considering a reduction of meat in your diet, keep in mind that the less animal products and the more fresh, whole plant foods we eat, the healthier we are. And don’t let the meat industry’s marketing campaigns convince you otherwise!
Right, so we’re agreed that plant-based is the way of the healthy, disease-free, sexy mama future! Now how do we get there again? My 30-Day Revolution to Plant-Based Vitality was literally designed to help you make the shift. Check it out!
F L Growe, P N Appleby, R C Travis, T J Key. Risk of hospitalization or death from ischemic heart disease among British vegetarians and nonvegetarians: results from the EPIC-Oxford cohort study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Mar;97(3):597-603.
J Zhang, I B Dhakal, Z Zhao, L Li. Trends in mortality from cancers of the breast, colon, prostate, esophagus, and stomach in East Asia: role of nutrition transition. Eur J Cancer Prev. 2012 Sep;21(5):480-9.