A shift from a diet high in animal-based foods, particularly red and processed meats, to one rich in plant-based foods such as nuts, legumes, and whole grains, is associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality, cardiovascular diseases (CVD), and type 2 diabetes (T2D).
- A study analysed the impact of substituting specific animal products with plant-based alternatives.
- Replacing 50 grams of processed meat a day with 28-50 grams of nuts resulted in a 27% decrease in the risk of any type of CVD.
- Replacement with whole grains lead to a 36% decrease in CVD incidence.
- Replacing one egg a day with nuts resulted in a 17% decrease in CVD incidence.
- In terms of diabetes incidence, replacing butter with olive oil was associated with a slight decline in risk.
- Substituting red meat for nuts was associated with an 8% decrease in risk.
- The same parameter for replacing processed meat with nuts was 22%, replacing poultry with whole grains was 13%, and replacing eggs with nuts or whole grains was 8% .
The study also found that replacing processed meat with nuts or whole grains was associated with a 21% decrease in all-cause mortality risk.
Replacing eggs with nuts or legumes resulted in a 15% decrease, replacing red meat with nuts or whole grains resulted in a 7% decrease, and replacing butter with olive oil resulted in a 6% decrease.
Associations versus Causation
However, it's important to note that these findings are based on associations and not causation. Causation is usually demonstrated by a clinical trial with a placebo group.
While the studies included in the review were adjusted for major lifestyle confounders such as total energy intake, physical activity, alcohol intake, and smoking, completely eliminating confounding is impossible.
One alternative explanation for the observed associations is that people on plant-based diets tend to follow healthier lifestyles in general.
Moreover, while plant-based diets are associated with numerous health benefits, they also require careful planning to ensure adequate intake of essential nutrients such as protein, iron, vitamin B12, and Omega 3 fatty acids, which are typically abundant in animal-based foods.
The study suggests that a diet rich in plant-based foods can contribute to improved cardiometabolic health.
However, more research is needed to strengthen the existing evidence and to investigate new associations, especially with a focus on meat and dairy replacement products.
Neuenschwander, M., Stadelmaier, J., Eble, J. et al. (2023). Substitution of animal-based with plant-based foods on cardiometabolic health and all-cause mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies. BMC Med 21, 404.
A characteristic feature of pseudoscience is the shifting of the burden of proof.
Instead of providing evidence to substantiate their claims, proponents of pseudoscience often challenge sceptics to disprove their assertions.
This is a reversal of the standard scientific practice, where the onus is on the claimant to provide evidence supporting their proposition.
This concept aligns with Hitchens's razor, an epistemological principle named after author and journalist Christopher Hitchens.
It states, "What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence".
This principle emphasizes that the responsibility of providing proof lies with the person making the claim. If they fail to meet this burden, their claim can be dismissed without requiring any counterevidence.
Be extremely skeptical about glib advice especially when stated categorically and without any evidence such as “X diet will cure everything”.
Avoid zealots of any kind.
Look for people who have nuance, balance and even uncertainty.
If you like watching YouTube, here are some people and their channel that I expressly trust and follow. I may not always agree with everything they say. I make up my own mind based on the evidence.
They mainly based their videos on interviews with actual specialist. Amazing clinicians with decades of experience treating patients or real scientist that are acclaimed international specialists in their field.
Who would you rather follow – an influencer with their own agenda or a expert in their chosen field?
In no particular order, here are seven of the very best
Nutrition Made Simple Dr Gil Carvalho
Gil Carvalho, MD PhD is a physician, research scientist, science communicator, speaker and writer. Dr. Carvalho trained as a medical doctor in the University of Lisbon, in his native Portugal, and later obtained a PhD in Biology from Caltech (California Institute of Technology). He has published peer-reviewed medical research spanning the fields of genetics, molecular biology, nutrition, behaviour, ageing and neuroscience.
In parallel with his research career, Dr. Carvalho also has a passion for science communication. He directs and hosts Nutrition Made Simple, which aims to convey fundamental nutrition concepts to a general audience via educational videos. His content is watched by over half a million people monthly.
Gill does a lot of myth-busting as well. Nutrition Made Simple
Found my fitness Dr Rhonda Patrick
Dr Patrick interviews a lot of great people and does her best to translate the research so everyone can benefit. Not just about fitness. Dr Rhonda covers a lot of important topics. Found my fitness
The Drive Dr Peter Attia
Dr Attia’s medical knowledge is incredible, is a very considered and insightful when interviewing the best (mainly US) clinicians, scientists and researchers. Because he is so well prepared for each interview, he gets the most out of the interviewee. Available as a postcast as well as YouTube. The interviews can be over two hours long and can be very detailed although Dr Attia takes extra care explaining and translating the medical science for his listeners. The Drive
Sigma Nutrition with Danny Lennon
Danny is the founder of Sigma Nutrition. He is the host of the long-running popular podcast Sigma Nutrition Radio. He has spoken at conferences and events all over Europe, as well as the United States and Australia. Danny is currently a member of the Advisory Board of the Sports Nutrition Association, the global regulatory body responsible for the standardisation of best practice in the sports nutrition profession. Danny has a master’s degree (MSc.) in Nutritional Sciences from University College Cork, Ireland.
Danny and his team present incredibly well researched topics and will also interview experts. The podcasts are quite technical and detailed! Sigma Nutrition
Plant Chompers with Chris MacAskill
Chris MacAskill has a knack for making the scientific advantages of a plant-based diet both engaging and educational. In his past, Chris worked alongside Steve Jobs at NeXT, where he discovered that uniqueness can be a powerful asset. Today, he is leveraging this asset to challenge some of the misleading claims by carnivore influencers and the like.
In order to address the issues of our flawed and inhumane food system, we need more scientists like Chris who can present compelling, easy-to-understand information to the public. His work is crucial in debunking myths and providing scientifically-backed information to the masses. Plant Chompers
The Proof with Simon Hill
At last, an Aussie accent. The Proof Podcast is a space for science-based conversation. Together with his guests, Simon Hill, a qualified physiotherapist and nutritionist, explores the health and longevity benefits that come with mastering physical exercise, nutrition, mindfulness, recovery, sleep, and alignment. Simon is measured, scientific and brings out the best in the people he is interviewing. The Proof
A little while ago, I read about a woman who had been told for 3 years that her chest tightness was anxiety only to be diagnosed with Three Vessel Disease (3VD: the left anterior descending, right coronary and circumflex arteries).
And the other day I heard of a woman diagnosed with asthma while she was actually having a heart attack.
- Did you know that heart disease kills more than two times as many Australian women than breast cancer. ... and that about 40% of heart attacks in women are fatal?
- Do you know that heart disease in woman is almost like a different disease in women compared to men?
- Are you seeing a lot of women in your practice?
- Do you know how to recognise symptoms of heart disease?
We will be covering all matters of heart disease in the coming months.
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Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is used in Ayurvedic medicine to promote youthful vigour, enhance muscle strength and endurance, and improve overall health.
Introduced to Australian practitioners of Western Herbal Medicine in the mid-90s, withania rapidly became a much-loved herb and is now one of the top selling herb in Australia and even in the UK.
When I was a scout in Denmark, it was an accepted idea that we would probably eat 7 pounds of dirt each year and that it was somehow good for us. We now know it is may improve our microbiome: "New indicate that new parents shouldn't be afraid of a little dirt — or fur. After monitoring a cohort of nearly 1,200 infants, Lynch and her colleagues found that a dog might be a baby's best friend when it comes to avoiding respiratory disorders2. "The only factor that discriminated high- from low-risk groups was dog ownership," says Lynch (main author). She says that dogs (and, to a lesser extent, cats) "increase the diversity of bacteria and lower the diversity of fungi in the houses where these babies are raised". This finding aligns with other research showing that a rural upbringing or growing up on a farm might yield a richer gut microbiome that reduces the risk of inflammatory respiratory diseases relative to children raised in more urban environments."
The hunt for a healthy microbiome Despite evidence of the gut microbiome's role in human health, researchers are still working out what shapes the community of microbes. By Michael Eisenstein https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00193-3
We used to add sprigs of rosemary to our roast vegetables. However, the sprigs are quite woody and you either have to remove the sprigs or, if you want to eat the rosemary, remove the leaves from the woody bits. A few years ago we started to use a spice grinder to grind our own rosemary. I don't know why we didn't do it earlier because the quality of the rosemary powder is phenomenal!
The COSMOS-Mind study is a sub-study to a larger parent trial called COSMOS. It investigated the effects of cocoa extract and a standard multivitamin-mineral on cardiovascular and cancer outcomes in more than 21,000 older participants.