Veganism: Dr Potter advises on switching to plant-based diet
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A new study has found a group of dietary changes that can improve many of the metabolic markers associated with heart disease and obesity. The researchers looked at the health benefits of a vegan low-fat diet over a 12 week period. People who followed the diet closely saw improvements to quality of life, blood pressure, and fasting glucose levels. The participants saw these improvements even though they were healthcare workers in the pandemic, where many people are seeing worsening mental health and increased rates of metabolic disease.
The study was published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine.
The original plan by the researchers involved equally sized control and experimental groups that either ate the vegan low-fat diet or made no changes.
The start of the study was interrupted by COVID-19 disruptions, so instead all participants were placed on the vegan diet and compared to measurements taken before any dieting.
Of the 12 participants only nine completed the full course of the study.
The people taking part in the study were overweight when measurements first began, with BMI measurements above 25.
Over the duration of the study, they measured a decrease in body weight of 5.7 kg.
Both total and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels dropped by 30.7mg/dL.
Participants reported an overall increase in quality of life, although the amount is not stated.
Lead author Hana Kahleova, MD, PhD, said: “Hospital employees continue to risk illness and death from COVID-19 every day, but our research shows a plant-based diet can help hospital workers lower high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels—which are linked to more severe illness and death from COVID-19—and help ensure they remain healthy to better serve patients.”
Previous studies identified plant based and pescatarian diets in health workers correlated to lowered chances of contracting moderate-to-severe Covid.
Being overweight is a risk factor for a large number of metabolic diseases, many of which were examined in this study.
Overweight people are more likely to develop diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and abnormal cholesterol levels.
Many of these factors have interactions with stress that make them more likely among health workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This means that it is possible the positive effects of the vegan diet are underestimated by this study.
Healthcare workers are a useful test group for studies such as this.
Providing improvements to their nutrition also gives them more tools for recognising nutritional problems in the patients they are treating.
There is evidence that certain dietary and behavioural trends correlate to specific occupations.
It is also a lot easier to carry out long term monitoring when their workplace is close to where they are being examined for the study.
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