It is often said that there are no quick fixes when it comes to our health. A new study out of Stanford, however, has shown this to be false — at least, if we’re talking about our hearts.
“Our study suggests that anyone who chooses a vegan diet can improve their long-term health within two months,” said senior author Christopher Gardner, professor of medicine at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, in a study. declaration about new discoveries.
“Most of the changes are seen in the first month,” he added.
It has long been known that eating less meat is associated with improved cardiovascular health, but proving that the relationship is causal rather than just a correlation has always been difficult. How do you prove that Alice’s cholesterol is lower than Bob’s because she is vegan, for example, and not because she is female, or younger, or grew up in Minnesota instead of Kentucky?
But the Stanford team had an invaluable resource at their disposal: the Stanford Twin Registry. It is a database of fraternal and identical twins who have agreed to participate in research, allowing researchers to recruit 22 pairs of identical twins for the project. lost it was the significant impacts of things like genetics and education – basically, it’s as close as you can get to running both sides of the experiment on a single person at the same time.
“Not only did this study provide an innovative way to claim that a vegan diet is healthier than the conventional omnivorous diet, but it was also a problem to work with in twins,” Gardner said. “They dressed the same way, spoke the same way and played jokes with each other that could only happen if they spent a lot of time together.”
To ensure that all participants enjoyed a healthy and balanced diet During the study, a meal service was used for the first four weeks, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. Afterwards, participants were tasked with preparing their own meals, although a certified nutritionist was on hand to advise them on healthy choices. And it appears to have paid off: “21 of the 22 vegans followed the diet,” Gardner said.
“Our study used a generalizable diet that is accessible to anyone.”
The results were, to say the least, extremely good news for vegans. Blood tests for insulin and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) levels and weighings were performed at three points in the study – at the beginning, after four weeks, and at the end, after eight weeks – and after becoming vegan . , all three markers were significantly reduced. For example, the ideal LDL-C level is less than 100; After eight weeks, the vegan participants’ score dropped to 95.5, while the omnivorous twins’ score rose to 116.1.
“Based on these results and thinking about longevity, most of us would benefit from adopting a more plant-based diet,” Gardner said.
“A vegan diet may confer additional benefits, such as increased gut bacteria and reduced telomere loss, which slows the aging of the body,” he added.
But while Gardner is keen to extol the benefits of taking a completely plant-based approach, he is aware that this is unlikely for most of us – at least now. That’s not so terrible, he pointed out: After all, on a diet that included vegetables, legumes, fruits and whole grains, the omnivorous twins also saw improvements in their health — just less dramatic improvements.
“What’s more important than going strictly vegan is including more plant-based foods in your diet,” Gardner said. “Fortunately, having fun with multicultural vegan foods like Indian masala, Asian stir-fries, and African lentil-based dishes can be a great first step.”
The study is published in the journal Open JAMA Network.