Mounting evidence from numerous studies shows that a diet low in sugar and fat and high in whole, unprocessed fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds, along with daily activity reveal the following health benefits:

1.    Lowers blood sugar levels and may reverse type 2 diabetes. 

As a young MD, I served on the island of Guam. The high incidence of type 2 diabetes in the population sparked an interest in the effective treatment of chronic disease through lifestyle. My wife and I have since conducted many diabetes reversal courses called “Diabetes Undone”, with much success. The 8-week online program guides participants through plant-based lifestyle strategies that address the root causes of diabetes and its associated diseases.

In 2011, U.K. physician, Dr. Roy Taylor, led an encouraging study that showed reversal of the underlying diabetes disease process in just eight weeks.

Study participants ate above-ground, non-starchy vegetables, 600-800 calories per day, and took a supplement to make sure they didn’t have a nutrient deficiency. While following the diet plan, subjects’ diabetes measurements improved, and fat in the liver and pancreas disappeared. Many no longer needed insulin. Others have since followed this plan with similar results.

Interestingly, according to studies conducted by Loma Linda University on Seventh-day Adventists, type 2 diabetes prevalence in vegans and lacto-ovo vegetarians (those who eat some eggs and dairy) was half that of non-vegetarians.

2.     Lowers blood pressure.

Many studies now confirm that diet plans rich in plant foods are associated with lower blood pressure, particularly if one limits sugar and sodium. Research sponsored by the National Institutes of Health found that the DASH diet4 alone could decrease systolic blood pressure (the top number) by 6-11 points.

3.     Reverses Heart disease and reduces risk.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death globally. In the 1980’s, Dr Dean Ornish was the first to show that people who followed a 100% plant-food diet, managed their stress, and exercised regularly were able to lower cholesterol and even reverse the damage from heart disease.5

Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr, MD, author of Reverse and Prevent Heart Disease, conducted his own 20-year nutritional study with incredible results. The men and women in his original study came to him with advanced coronary disease. Within months of following a plant-centric, oil-free diet, their angina symptoms eased, cholesterol levels dropped, and they experienced a marked improvement in blood flow to the heart. Twenty years later, they remain free of symptoms.6

4.     Promotes weight loss.

The Complete Health Improvement Program (CHIP), developed by the late Hans Diehl, is a comprehensive, interactive, 12-week educational program that my wife and I conducted once or twice annually for my patients and the community for many years. We’ve seen some amazing results. Participants learned to eat a whole-food, plant-centered, low fat, low sugar diet, and added regular exercise into their routine. By the end, they showed marked improvements in cholesterol levels, blood sugar, blood pressure, heart disease risk, weight loss, stress levels, and overall health. 

5.     Aids digestion and supports gut health.

Literature suggests that increases in beneficial intestinal bacteria leading to gut health in vegans and vegetarians are likely due to the high content of dietary plant fiber.

6.     Protects against cataracts and macular degeneration.

Age-related eye diseases such as cataracts, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma cases have sharply increased. They are the leading causes of visual impairment and blindness worldwide. Compounds found in fruits and vegetables seem to play a vital role in protection against these diseases.

7.     Improves memory and brain function. 

A 2015 study published in the journal Neurology suggests that adherence to the plant-centered Mediterranean diet was related to better performance on all brain tasks. 

8.     Lowers risks for certain types of cancer. 

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States. Studies link about 44% of cancer deaths to risk factors such as smoking, sun exposure, overweight and obesity, physical inactivity, and poor diet. Below is a list of some of the worst and best foods, according to the World Health Organization.

Cancer Causing foods:

    • Alcohol in excess
    • Processed meats: hot dogs, ham, bacon, sausage, jerky, lunch meats
    • Sugary snacks, sodas, fast foods
    • Pre-packaged, highly processed food
    • Chinese-style salted fish
    • Red Meats, & meats cooked @ high temps— blackened, charred, burnt

Cancer Fighting Foods

    • Vibrant-colored vegies and fruit- 5/day
    • Cruciferous vegetables- broccoli, kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage
    • Tomatoes
    • Carrots and citrus fruits
    • Garlic, onions, chives, leeks, shallots
    • Whole grains—brown rice, quinoa, oats, rye, wholegrain bread, spelt

9.     Prevents and treats erectile dysfunction.

TV ads for ED medications often make folks laugh, but the disease is common and serious. For the most part, it’s caused by the same risk factors as other chronic diseases such as heart disease. In fact, 50-90% of men diagnosed with ED go on to experience heart attacks within 2-5 years! Click below to view an article on recent studies linking higher intakes of plant foods with a reduced risk of ED.7

10.  Slows aging and increases life expectancy.

Contrary to what some may think, the length and quality of life as you age is only 20-30% due to your genes. The rest is about choices and lifestyle.

For over 20 years, the Blue Zones, areas of the world where people live longest and healthiest lives, have been studied to find the secrets to longevity.8 Here are some characteristics that all 5 blue zones have in common:

    •  All follow a 95% plant-based diet—some fish, eggs, dairy, or meat 5 times/month.
    • They don’t smoke tobacco, take drugs, or eat processed foods.
    • Their cultures center around community, strong relationships, and social support, including spiritual/religious connections.
    • They cook wholesome meals—legumes (beans), whole grains, nuts, and fresh vegetables and fruits from their gardens. No processed, fast, or junk food.
    • They’re always moving as a natural part of life—walking long distances, gardening, swimming, raising animals, and other daily chores, much of it outside in fresh air and sunshine.
    • Rest and sleep are built into their lifestyle—8-10 hours a night, and sometimes short, daytime naps.
    • They restrict their calories at meals, eat slowly, enjoy their food, and refrain from eating to 100% full. They also fast after their late afternoon meal until breakfast.

Each of these factors has been found to contribute to health and longevity. If we incorporate them into our lifestyle, we, too, can enjoy a long and healthy life!9

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