Over the years, numerous studies have shown that a diet higher in plant-based foods is optimal and can meet every nutritional need. 2020 and 2021 have shown very clearly that people with lifestyle related diseases are at the highest risk. An unhealthy diet- one that is low in plant based foods and fibre, is one of the major causes of most chronic lifestyle related diseases. Chronic conditions are actually preventable.
An analysis of the mortality rate among the population in the world and in India have been indicating that lifestyle diseases are the most prevalent in the top ten. Heart disease has been at the number one spot for sometime now followed by strokes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Lower down in this list are diabetes and kidney disease. All of these are true for the developed as well as developing nations. As the populations become upwardly mobile and globalisation exposes developing nations to the dietary patterns of the developed countries, more and more people shift towards a diet high in animal foods. Changing lifestyles and food patterns are largely responsible for the rise in these diseases.
These lifestyle diseases are largely preventable. A 14 year Harvard study found that “A diet rich in vegetables and fruits can lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, (and) prevent some types of cancer…”. Plant-based diets are cost-effective, low-risk interventions that may lower body mass index, blood pressure, HbA1C, and cholesterol levels according to a nutritional update published by NCBI.
The need of the hour is to shift to a plant-heavy diet according to the EAT-Lancet report which was the first full scientific review of what constitutes a healthy diet keeping sustainability at its core. Many studies over the last few decades have consistently shown that people who eat more plants have lower chances of chronic diseases. In fact foods that we eat even have the capacity of controlling health-promoting or disease-promoting genes as demonstrated by Dr Dean Ornish in his landmark research on prostate cancer. They found that over 5000 genes were affected by lifestyle changes. The works of many other doctors like Dr. Neal Barnard, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Dr. Michael Greger and many others have also demonstrated the benefits of switching over to plants.