Joel Kahn is a world-renowned cardiologist and the best-selling author of The Whole Heart Solution. He’s also one of the lauded instructors in our first-of-its-kind Advanced Functional Nutrition Program, where we bring the best minds in nutrition together and dive deep into the healing power of food. You can find out more about Dr. Kahn, the rest of the faculty (including groundbreaking doctors like Mark Hyman and Frank Lipman), and this revolutionary training here.
Some people are drawn to the plant-based lifestyle for the impact it makes on protecting the environment and some to avoid harming animals. Most of us hope that we also may derive some health benefits from skipping animal products, even if it is occasionally hard on holidays and while traveling to find appropriate meals. You are probably aware that plant-based diets have been shown to prevent and reverse heart disease, and new research points to a host of other positive effects of a plant-based diet. Let's dive into the science.
1. Type 2 diabetes:
In a long-term study from Finland of over 2,000 men followed over 19 years, replacing even 1 percent of calories from animal proteins with plant proteins lowered the risk of developing diabetes by 18 percent.
2. Liver disease:
A growing health concern is called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease or NAFLD. In an analysis of over 3,000 subjects in the Netherlands, increased dietary proteins from animal sources (meat) were associated with a greater risk (reaching 50 percent higher) of developing NAFLD.
In a study of processed red meat consumption and asthma symptoms, eating cured red meat over four times a week increased the odds of having worsened asthma by 76 percent.
4. Colon cancer:
The world was caught off guard in October 2015, when the World Health Organization announced their results of a comprehensive analysis demonstrating that processed red meats like bacon and hot dogs cause colorectal cancer. In a more recent analysis, 400 studies were examined. They found that the risk of colorectal cancer increased by 12 percent for each 100 gm/day eaten of red and processed meats. Whole grains and vegetables decreased the risk.
In an analysis of 21 studies examining diet and depression, eating red and processed meats increased the risk of depression by over 25 percent while fruits and vegetables had the opposite relationship.
6. Stomach cancer:
Researchers combined 42 studies relating diet to stomach cancer and found that higher intake of red meat increased the risk by 70 percent while processed red meat increased it by 80 percent over those that shunned meats.
7. Head and neck cancer:
In a study from the Netherlands of over 120,000 subjects followed for over 20 years, consumption of processed red meat was associated with developing cancers of the head and neck. The risk was increased as much as 50 percent compared to the low- or non-meat eaters studied.
8. Gestational diabetes:
Developing diabetes during pregnancy, known as gestational diabetes, can complicate pregnancies and have an impact on the health of the offspring. In a recent analysis, the highest red meat consumption of any kind increased the risk of gestational diabetes by over twofold. Once again, processed red meat also increased the risk by about double over low-meat eaters.
Want to learn more from Dr. Kahn about the benefits of a plant-based diet? Check out the first-ever functional nutrition training, where he teaches classes on heart health and veganism.