We’ve all heard about the growing problem of opiate addiction in the United States. While there are several causes of this epidemic, one of them is addiction of patients being treated for chronic pain. It turns out that a plant-based, or vegan, diet can help prevent and even treat several diseases that result in chronic pain. Let’s look at a few examples.
Diabetics can develop diabetic peripheral neuropathy which causes pain in the leg that is often severe. It turns out that a plant-based diet can cut the risk of developing diabetes in the first place by more than 75%. For those already with neuropathy, a vegan diet can eliminate pain in over 70% of patients and the results are maintained long term.
The chest pain from angina can require strong pain medication to control. One medical study showed that a plant-based diet was able to result in a pain free status after 12 weeks. And of course, a plant-based diet cuts the risk of heart disease by half in the first place.
Over 1 million Americans suffer from rheumatoid arthritis. The first way to avoid arthritic pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis is not to get the disease in the first place. Those following vegetarian diet were shown to have only half the risk of rheumatoid arthritis of non vegetarians. For those who already have rheumatoid arthritis, a plant-based diet was shown to significantly reduce pain and stiffness.
Another example is the pain from gall stones. Almost 1 million Americans suffer from gall stones. While a plant-based diet can’t reduce the pain from gall stones, it can reduce the chance of getting them by 50%.
Fibromyalgia is a painful condition that affects 10 million Americans. Here, as in several other diseases, a plant-based diet can be a very effective treatment. Medical studies show that a plant-based diet reduces pain in fibromyalgia patients by 70%. These are a substantial results in an otherwise hard-to-treat disease.
While it will take more than a plant-based diet to solve the opiate addiction crisis, it does have a very important part to play by preventing several painful diseases and by reducing pain for those patients who already have it, thus reducing the need for pain medications.
Here’s the big news: a plant-based diet helps prevent and treat Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). This is a big deal because CKD is the 8th leading cause of death in the United States and sucks up 20% of the Medicare budget.
Vegans and vegetarians have a greatly decreased risk of kidney disease. One study showed that vegan have better kidney function than meat eaters. This only makes sense since vegetarians and vegans have much lower rates high blood pressure and diabetes two of the leading risk factors for kidney disease. While this is news to many people and patients, the medical researchers have known this for a long time.
Other studies show that a plant-based diet slows the rate of decline for those who already have kidney disease. This means holding off the need for kidney dialysis.
Now protein in the diet causes extra work in the kidneys of kidney disease patients, but only when the protein source comes from meat, fish, poultry dairy and eggs. Plant proteins don’t cause stress and this is one of the key advantages of a plant-based diet.
The kidneys have a vital role in keeping us healthy. They filter wastes products from the blood, keep our fluids in balance and help control our blood pressure. A plant-based diet gives the kidneys what they need to stay healthy all throughout our lives. As a bonus it also reduces the risk and treats other diseases such as heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis and prostate cancer just to mention a few.
Prescribing a plant-based diet to patients at risk of or already suffering from chronic kidney disease seems like a simple solution which would lower the costs and the suffering that so many patients experience. Unfortunately, most doctors are not yet aware of the power of a plant-based diet to prevent and treat kidney disease and so don’t know to prescribe it to their patients. To help make doctors aware of this dietary option for preventing and treating chronic kidney disease, we wrote a detailed article addressing much of the research that has been done on this topic. We’re pleased to say that this article was recently published in the medical journal, JOJ Urology and Nephrology.
The world needs to go on a greenhouse gas diet! A recent study from researchers at the University of Oxford found that ditching animal products could reduce your carbon footprint by 73 percent.
Get ready for this. The lead scientist of the study says, “A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use. It is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car.”
That’s right! The food you eat is more important than the car you drive, the light bulbs you buy, the insulation in your house and all the other nonfood items you use.
Eating meat is crowding out the planet. In addition to greatly reducing your carbon footprint, researchers found that if everyone went vegan, global farmland use could be reduced by 75 percent. This would be an amount of land comparable to the size of the United States, China, Australia, and the whole Europe combined freed up.
Not only would this result in a significant drop in greenhouse gas emissions, it would also free up wild land lost to agriculture, one of the primary causes for mass wildlife extinction.
The new study, published in the journal Science, is one of the most comprehensive analyses to date into the detrimental effects farming can have on the environment and included data on nearly 40,000 farms in 119 countries. The Oxford report comes on the heels of several other studies showing that raising livestock is a major factor of global warming. Let’s hope people are starting to take notice!
Meet John (not his real name). He had a severe case of Crohn’s disease, an autoimmune disease affecting almost a million Americans. Starting in his late teens and continuing till his early 60’s, John suffered from his intestines swelling and causing pain, along with the unpleasant symptoms one would expect from major disruptions in the intestines. Every day was hard. Even his eyes and throat were affected. Over time he took a long list of suggested medications, and endured the powerful side effects that usually accompany these meds, but none of these is fully able to treat the disease. He also had surgeries, as most Crohn’s patients do, but continued to suffer. Read more
OK, you guys, and the gals who care about them, we need to talk about a disease that’s all too common – prostate cancer! The good news is that there’s something you can do to prevent it, and even help treat it if it’s a mild case in its early stages. Let’s start with prevention first.
The risk of prostate cancer in vegetarians is less than half that of non-vegetarians. While plant-based foods have been shown to decrease the risk of prostate cancer, animal-derived foods increase the risk. Intake of saturated fat and cholesterol found in animal-derived foods are independent risk factors for prostate cancer, contributing further to the higher risk that non-vegetarians have. Read more
Bodybuilder Karl Bruder went vegan in March 2016. By July 2016, he was on a winning streak, destroying the competition at the WABBA Grand Prix by taking first place in his category of Tall Men up to 180cm. He has also placed sixth at Mr Universe and fourth at PCA Physical Culture.
As a competitive bodybuilder, Karl does have to travel, but this isn’t an issue, it just takes some preparation. “I always make sure I have my own food whilst travelling and that I have access to vegan food where ever I go” he explains. This means he never has to compromise. At home, he manages to cook up interesting food. “I love to cook and experiment with all sorts of plant-based foods and create amazing meals” he says. “I eat a lot of lentils, nuts, beans of all different types and your basic carbohydrates too.” This fuels his training which includes the gym on six days per week. He also looks after his rescue horses which involves physical work, and plenty of walking.
He’s proud of how much he has achieved on a vegan diet:
“I have put on 6kg since I have been vegan in 20 months. I never achieved this amount of muscle prior to being vegan in 6 years in competitive bodybuilding. So when someone says you built most of your muscle on animal based products, I tell them I have made a lot more progress and faster on a plant-based diet. I have never been in such good shape and conditioned all year round as I am now. So the fact is, being vegan has massive benefits to my sport and my health.”
Erectile dysfunction (impotence) is the inability to get and keep an erection firm enough for intercourse. Erectile dysfunction (ED) has considerable impact on the quality of life of middle-aged and senior men, and is a significant global health problem affecting millions of men throughout the world.
It’s very important to note that men with ED are at significantly increased risk of a heart attack. There is consistent epidemiological evidence which links ED with cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and cholesterol levels. We know that a plant-based diet greatly reduces the risk of those diseases and so it follows that it also greatly reduces the risk of ED. Other evidence shows that the lower BMI (Body Mass Index) that vegetarians are more likely to have also helps reduce the risk of ED, as does the reduction of saturated fat intake and increased fiber intake.
One study found a 10% reduced risk of ED with each additional daily serving of fruits and vegetables consumed. Another study showed that phytonutrients, nutrients besides vitamins and minerals which are found only in plant foods, were a major reason for the reduced risk. A long term study of a diet rich in whole grains, fruit, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and olive oil was associated with an improvement in erectile function.
They’ve even done a small experiment on erectile function. Three athletes were tested overnight after different meals. The experiment showed that erectile function was improved after a plant-based meal. Smoking cessation and exercise increased the effectiveness of the dietary intervention in several studies.
While diet and diet-related diseases are major causes of ED, there are other factors such as psychological problems and medication side effects which can also have an impact. However, switching to a plant-based diet is a safe way to reduce your risk of ED and it forms a vital role in its treatment.