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Healthy Diet Studies
by Don Bennett, DAS

Who said there are no studies done of people who eat an uncooked plant-based diet? What follows are some examples. To understand the conclusions drawn however, sometimes you need to read between the lines, and understand that those who created the studies often have very little knowledge of what it means to eat a diet of uncooked, plant-based foods, and therefore they themselves may draw inaccurate conclusions as you will see. Study conclusions are not the Gospel truth. They are a research tool to be used to get at the truth. My comments appear in italics. And text emphasis is mine (normally, underlined text can be clicked – like the items in the "Contents" section below – but in this article, underlined text is mostly for emphasis).

CONTENTS

Raw food vegans have healthy bones

Fruit and vegetable consumption and all-cause, cancer and CVD mortality

Antioxidant status in long-term adherents to a strict uncooked vegan diet

Divergent changes in serum sterols during a strict uncooked vegan diet in patients with rheumatoid arthritis

Effect of a strict vegan diet on energy and nutrient intakes by Finnish rheumatoid patients

Effect of a vegan diet on biomarkers of chemoprevention in females

Effects of a raw food diet on hypertension and obesity

Effects of eating an uncooked vegetable diet for one week

Faecal microbial flora and disease activity in rheumatoid arthritis during a vegan diet

Fatty acid composition of erythrocyte, platelet, and serum lipids in strict vegans

Metabolic vitamin B12 status on a mostly raw vegan diet with follow-up using tablets, nutritional yeast, or probiotic supplements

Vitamin B-12 status of long-term adherents of a strict uncooked vegan diet ("living food diet") is compromised

Shifting from a conventional diet to an uncooked vegan diet reversibly alters fecal hydrolytic activities in humans

Vegan diet alleviates fibromyalgia symptoms

Vegan diet in physiological health promotion

Uncooked, lactobacilli-rich, vegan food and rheumatoid arthritis

Raw vegetables are the number one protective food against cancer

Raw Food Eaters: Health Habits and Nutrient Intake

High fruit and vegetable intake positively correlated with antioxidant status,
cognitive performance

European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer and Nutrition - Potsdam study

Influence of individual and combined health behaviors on total and cause-specific mortality in men and women

Changes in prostate gene expression in men undergoing an intensive nutrition and lifestyle intervention

Effects of a raw food diet on hypertension and obesity

Dietary Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load and Risk of Pancreatic Cancer: A Case-Control Study

Meat-eating's negative effect on health

 

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Raw food vegans have healthy bones

Archives of Internal Medicine, March 28, 2005, Luigi Fontana, M.D., Ph.D.,

It has long been thought that low bone mass is usually a sign of the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis, and that it certainly increases ones risk for fractures. But a recent study at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, which was published in the March 28 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, found that although people who follow a raw-food vegan diet (no animal products) had lower bone mass than those eating a more typical American diet, their bones were healthy, with normal "turnover rates", and with no signs of osteoporosis. The raw food vegan group studied had less inflammation, indicated by low levels of C-reactive protein, which is made by the liver as a response to inflammation in the body. They also had lower levels of IGF-1, one of the most powerful growth factors regulated by calorie and protein intake. High levels of IGF-1 have been linked to risk of breast cancer and prostate cancer.

Bone mass is not necessarily the best indicator of bone health, as this study shows. Normal turnover rates and the absence of osteoporosis are the best biomarkers of overall bone health. Bones can be dense but brittle, and bones can be not as dense as medical doctors would like to see and yet be strong and flexible, which is what you will find with people who eat a very healthy diet. So a bone density scan does not tell the whole picture; ones diet and lifestyle practices are actually a better indicator of bone health. And you saw above that the raw food vegans had lower levels of IGF-1 (a growth hormone); of all the thousands of hormones that occur in animals, only one hormone is identical in two different species. The two species: human and cow. The hormone: IGF-1. All dairy products contain IGF-1. To give yourself the best odds of avoiding cancer, avoid consuming IGF-1.

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Fruit and vegetable consumption and all-cause, cancer and CVD mortality

Oyinlola Oyebode, Vanessa Gordon-Dseagu, Alice Walker, Jennifer S. Mindell

Health and Social Surveys Research Group, Department of Epidemiology & Public Health, UCL (University College London), London, UK

The study involved 65,226 participants aged 35+ years in the 2001–2008 Health Surveys for England...We found that vegetables had a greater effect per portion than fruit, as did Joshipura. Thus the Australian guidelines may be more appropriate than the UK and European advice. However, Dauchet et al found the reverse. This may reflect different types of fruit and/or vegetables consumed by different populations, and merits further consideration.

The beneficial effects of fruits and vegetables depend on their nutritional content, which can very widely. In general, green leafy vegetables are better providers of minerals than fruit grown in the same soil, and if it is the minerals that fruit and vegetables provide that mainly accounted for the benefits found in this study, it would stand to reason that greens will be better suppliers of minerals than fruit when both come from minerally inadequate soils as are often found in agri-based food industries (except for potassium and phosphorous, which are added to soils as part of fertilization programs). Fruits grown in healthy soils will be better providers of both minerals and vitamins than greens, which could explain the results of Dauchet's study.

Results: Fruit and vegetable consumption was associated with decreased all-cause mortality, and associated with reduced cancer and cardiovascular mortality.

Conclusions: A robust inverse association exists between fruit and vegetable consumption and mortality, with benefits seen in up to 7+ portions daily.

J Epidemiol Community Health doi:10.1136/jech-2013-203500

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Antioxidant status in long-term adherents
to a strict uncooked vegan diet

Rauma AL, Torronen R, Hanninen O, Verhagen H, Mykkanen H.

Department of Clinical Nutrition, University of Kuopio, Finland.

Antioxidant status was investigated in 20 Finnish middle-aged female vegans and in one male vegan who were following a strict, uncooked vegan diet ("living food diet"), by means of a dietary survey and biochemical measurements (blood concentrations of vitamins C and E and beta-carotene, and the activities of the zinc/copper-dependent superoxide dismutase and selenium-dependent glutathione peroxidase). Values were compared with those of omnivores matched for sex, age, social status, and residence. Antioxidant supplementation was used by 4 of 20 female vegans and by 11 of 20 control subjects. Based on dietary records, the vegans had significantly higher intakes of beta-carotene, vitamin E, vitamin C, and copper, and a significantly lower intake of selenium than the omnivorous control subjects. The calculated dietary antioxidant intakes by the vegans, expressed as percentages of the US recommended dietary allowances, were as follows: 305% of vitamin C, 247% of vitamin A, 313% of vitamin E, 92% of zinc, 120% of copper, and 49% of selenium. Compared with the omnivores, the vegans had significantly higher blood concentrations of beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E, as well as higher erythrocyte superoxide dismutase activity. These differences were also seen in pairs who were using no antioxidant supplements. The present data indicate that the "living food diet" provides significantly more dietary antioxidants than does the cooked, omnivorous diet, and that the long-term adherents to this diet have a better antioxidant status than do omnivorous control subjects.

Am J Clin Nutr 1995 Dec;62(6):1221-1227

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Divergent changes in serum sterols during a strict
uncooked vegan diet inpatients with rheumatoid arthritis

Agren JJ, Tvrzicka E, Nenonen MT, Helve T, Hanninen O.

Department of Physiology, University of Kuopio, PO Box 1627, SF-70211 Kuopio, Finland.

The effects of a strict uncooked vegan diet on serum lipid and sterol concentrations were studied in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. The subjects were randomized into a vegan diet group (n 16), who consumed a vegan diet for 2-3 months, or into a control group (n 13), who continued their usual omnivorous diets. Serum total and LDL-cholesterol and -phospholipid concentrations were significantly decreased by the vegan diet. The levels of serum cholestanol and lathosterol also decreased, but serum cholestanol:total cholesterol and lathosterol:total cholesterol did not change. The effect of a vegan diet on serum plant sterols was divergent as the concentration of campesterol decreased while that of sitosterol increased. This effect resulted in a significantly greater sitosterol:campesterol value in the vegan diet group than in the control group (1.48 (SD 0.39) v. 0.72 (SD 0.14); P < 0.001). A higher concentration of campesterol compared with sitosterol is normal in omnivorous subjects and can be explained by lower absorption and esterification rates of sitosterol. Our results suggest that a strict uncooked vegan diet changes the relative absorption rates of these sterols and/or their biliary clearance.

Br J Nutr 2001 Feb;85(2):137-139

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Effect of a strict vegan diet on energy and
nutrient intakes by Finnish rheumatoid patients

Rauma AL, Nenonen M, Helve T, Hanninen O.

Department of Clinical Nutrition, University of Kuopio, Finland.

Dietary intake data of 43 Finnish rheumatoid arthritis patients were collected using 7-day food records. The subjects were randomized into a control and a vegan diet groups, consisting of 22 and 21 subjects, respectively. The subjects in the vegan diet group received an uncooked vegan diet ('living food') for 3 months, and they were tutored daily by a living-food expert. The subjects in the control group continued their usual diets and received no tutoring. Adherence to the strict vegan diet was assessed on the basis of urinary sodium excretion and by the information on consumption of specific food items (wheatgrass juice and the rejuvelac drink). The use of these drinks was variable, and some boiled vegetables were consumed occasionally. However, only one of the subjects in the vegan diet group lacked a clear decrease in urinary sodium excretion. Rheumatoid patients had lower than recommended intakes of iron, zinc and niacin, and their energy intake was low compared to mean daily energy intake of the healthy Finnish females of the same age. Shifting to the uncooked vegan diet significantly increased the intakes of energy and many nutrients. In spite of the increased energy intake, the group on the vegan diet lost 9% of their body weight during the intervention period, indicating a low availability of energy from the vegan diet.

Eur J Clin Nutr 1993 Oct;47(10):747-749

This shows that lacking knowledge of what is happening on a physiological level leads to erroneous conclusions. There is actually a higher availability of energy from the uncooked vegan diet, but when one shifts their diet from a cooked animal-based diet to an uncooked plant-based diet, the increased energy is used for detoxification, and one may feel less energetic than normal during this time. And the weight loss experienced is normal and does not indicate a "low availability of energy from the vegan diet"; if the individuals were overweight to begin with, or if the living-food expert fed them more veggies than fruit, then that weight-loss is to be expected (and since the living-food "expert" dabbled in wheatgrass juice and rejuvelac, this calls into question his/her knowledge of a healthy vegan diet).

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Effect of a vegan diet on biomarkers of
chemoprevention in females

Verhagen H, Rauma AL, Torronen R, de Vogel N, Bruijntjes-Rozier GC, Drevo MA, Bogaards JJ, Mykkanen H.

TNO Nutrition and Food Research Institute, Zeist, The Netherlands.

1. In order to study the potential beneficial effects of a vegan diet, a cross-sectional study was performed and several biomarkers of chemoprevention were measured in a population of female 'living food' eaters ('vegans'; n = 20) vs matched omnivorous controls (n = 20). 2. White blood cells obtained from fresh blood samples were subjected to the single-cell gel-electrophoresis assay. There was no statistically significant difference between the vegans and controls in the parameters 'tail length' and 'tail moment'. However, the 'tail moment' was significantly lower in a subset of the vegans (i.e.in those who did not use any vitamin and/or mineral supplements). 3. Fresh blood samples were exposed in vitro to the mutagen mitomycin C just prior to culturing. After culturing the number of binucleated lymphocytes with micronuclei was scored. There was no difference between the controls and vegans in the incidence of baseline micronuclei, nor in the number of mitomycin C-induced micronuclei. However, a significant correlation (r = -0.64, P < 0.01) between the number of mitomycin C-induced micronuclei and the activity of erythrocyte superoxide dismutase was found in the vegans. The number of baseline micronuclei increased with age in both groups. These findings may be of biological relevance. 4. The content of glutathione-S-transferase-alpha in plasma was not different between the vegans (n = 12) and controls (n = 12). 5. The present data indicate a few differences in biomarkers of chemopreventive potential in strict vegans Vs matched omnivorous controls. The significance of these changes as biologically relevant indicators of beneficial effects of vegan diets in humans needs to be determined in studies with a larger number of subjects.

Hum Exp Toxicol 1996 Oct;15(10):821-825

Good idea!

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Effects of a raw food diet on hypertension and obesity

Douglass JM, Rasgon IM, Fleiss PM, Schmidt RD, Peters SN, Abelmann EA.

We examined responses to cooked and uncooked food in 32 outpatients with essential hypertension; 28 were also overweight. By varying cooked and uncooked food percentages and salt intake, patients acted as their own control subjects in this unblinded study. After a mean duration of 6.7 months, average intake of uncooked food comprised 62% of calories ingested. Mean weight loss was 3.8 kg and mean diastolic pressure reduction 17.8 mm Hg, both statistically significant (P less than .00001). Eighty percent of those who smoked or drank alcohol abstained spontaneously.

South Med J 1985 Jul;78(7):841-844

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Effects of eating an uncooked vegetable diet for one week

Hanninen O, Nenonen M, Ling WH, Li DS, Sihvonen L.

Department of Physiology, University of Kuopio, Finland.

Biochemical and metabolic indicators were monitored in a group of volunteers suffering from a variety of chronic illnesses participating in a week's course on a special uncooked vegetable diet, known as "living food". Unmatched healthy controls ate the same diet cooked for 2 minutes in a microwave oven. After 1 week on the regimen, serum protein and urea contents decreased and alanine aminotransferase (ALAT) activity increased in both groups, although all within the normal range. Blood glucose increased in both groups to slightly above normal limits but total serum cholesterol dropped about 1 mmol/l from normal starting levels. Serum tocopherol and retinol increased only in the group eating the uncooked diet. In both groups urinary sodium dropped drastically without a significant change in potassium. Serum and urinary phenol and p-cresol diminished also significantly. It is concluded that this vegetable diet may be of some benefit in the short term but any longer-term use requires evaluation.

Appetite 1992 DEC;19(3):243-254

One week? To be statically significant, a study such as this needs to be conducted for years. The tests used did not specifically test for detrimental effects from microwave use, which would have been useful, but that is not what the study was for. Empirical evidence clearly shows people with " a variety of chronic illnesses" benefit greatly from a plant-based, uncooked diet.

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Faecal microbial flora and disease activity
in rheumatoid arthritis during a vegan diet

Peltonen R, Nenonen M, Helve T, Hanninen O, Toivanen P, Eerola E.

Department of Medicine, Turku University Central Hospital, Finland.

To clarify the role of the faecal flora in the diet-induced decrease of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) activity, 43 RA patients were randomized into two groups: the test group to receive living food, a form of uncooked vegan diet rich in lactobacilli, and the control group to continue their ordinary omnivorous diets. Based on clinical assessments before, during and after the intervention period, a disease improvement index was constructed for each patient. According to the index, patients were assigned either to a group with a high improvement index (HI) or to a group with a low improvement index (LO). Stool samples collected from each patient before the intervention and at 1 month were analyzed by direct stool sample gas-liquid chromatography of bacterial cellular fatty acids. This method has proved to be a simple and sensitive way to detect changes and differences in the faecal microbial flora between individual stool samples or groups of them. A significant, diet-induced change in the faecal flora (P = 0.001) was observed in the test group, but not in the control group. Further, in the test group, a significant (P = 0.001) difference was detected between the HI and LO categories at 1 month, but not in the pre-test samples. We conclude that a vegan diet changes the faecal microbial flora in RA patients, and changes in the faecal flora are associated with improvement in RA activity.

Br J Rheumatol 1997 Jan;36(1):64-68

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Fatty acid composition of erythrocyte,
platelet, and serum lipids in strict vegans

Agren JJ, Tormala ML, Nenonen MT, Hanninen OO.

Department of Physiology, University of Kuopio, Finland.

The fatty acid composition of erythrocytes, platelets, and serum lipids was compared between subjects who had been eating a strict uncooked vegan diet ("living food") for years and omnivore controls. The vegan diet contains equal amounts of fat but more monounsaturated and polyunsaturated and less saturated fatty acids than the mixed diet of the control group. In vegans, the proportion of linoleic acid was greater in all lipid fractions studied. Also, the levels of other n-6 fatty acids were greater, with the exception of arachidonic acid levels, which were similar in most fractions. In erythrocytes, platelets and serum phospholipid fractions, this increase was mainly at the expense of the n-3 fatty acids. The proportions of eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acid were only 29-36% and 49-52% of those in controls, respectively. In vegans the ratio of n-3 to n-6 fatty acids was only about half that in omnivores. In addition to the lower levels of n-3 fatty acids, the proportions of palmitic and stearic acids were lower in serum cholesteryl esters, triglycerides and free fatty acids of vegans. The proportion of oleic acid was slightly lower only in serum cholesteryl esters and erythrocyte phosphatidylserine. The results show that, in the long term, the vegan diet has little effect on the proportions of oleic and arachidonic acids, whereas the levels of n-3 fatty acids are depressed to very low levels with prolonged consumption of the high linoleic and oleic acid components of this diet.

Lipids 1995 Apr;30(4):365-369

There are those who consume a less-than-healthy vegetarian diet, and raw foodists are no different. All "strict uncooked vegan diets" are not created equal. Some raw foodists do not get enough omega-3 fatty acids in their diet. Some are still under the mistaken notion that they should avoid fats, that fat is bad, so avocados and other fatty fruits are considered a no-no. It's an example of how some people do way too much or way too litle of something. It would be helpful in critiquing the above study if we knew the diets of the living food subjects. Any good researcher should take that into account, but to use that information requires knowledge of what constitutes a balanced diet. This knowledge is sorely lacking in the scientific community. This fact should not be surprising, as it is lacking even among many nutritionists.

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Metabolic vitamin B12 status on a mostly raw vegan diet
with follow-up using tablets, nutritional yeast, or probiotic supplements

Donaldson MS.

Hallelujah Acres Foundation, Shelby, N.C., USA. michael@hacres.com

BACKGROUND: Pure vegetarian diets might cause cobalamin deficiency due to lack of dietary intake. It was hypothesized that a population following a vegan diet consuming mostly raw fruits and vegetables, carrot juice, and dehydrated barley grass juice would be able to avoid vitamin B12 deficiency naturally. METHODS: Subjects were recruited at a health ministers' reunion based on adherence to the Hallelujah diet for at least 2 years. Serum cobalamin and urinary methylmalonic acid (MMA) assays were performed. Follow-up with sublingual tablets, nutritional yeast, or probiotic supplements was carried out on subjects with abnormal MMA results. RESULTS: 49 subjects were tested. Most subjects (10th to 90th percentile) had followed this diet 23-49 months. 6 subjects had serum B12 concentrations <147 pmol/l (200 pg/ml). 37 subjects (76%) had serum B12 concentrations <221 pmol/l (300 pg/ml). 23 subjects (47%) had abnormal urinary MMA concentrations above or equal to 4.0 microg/mg creatinine. Sublingual cyanocobalamin and nutritional yeast, but not probiotic supplements, significantly reduced group mean MMA concentrations (tablet p < 0.01; yeast p < 0.05, probiotic > 0.20). CONCLUSIONS: The urinary MMA assay is effective for identifying early metabolic cobalamin deficiency. People following the Hallelujah diet and other raw-food vegetarian diets should regularly monitor their urinary MMA levels, consume a sublingual cobalamin supplement, or consume cobalamin in their food.

Ann Nutr Metab 2000;44(5-6):229-234

There are many reasons for low B12 levels. Among the test subjects above, we don't know if they were doing things that deplete B12. Also, those eating an animal-based diet have been shown to be deficient in B12. I believe that anyone with impaired intestinal functionality, omnivores especially, may want to consider taking a B12 supplement. The methyl-cobalamin form is superior to the cyano-cobalamin form, and sub-lingual (under-the-tongue) is better than taking it orally.

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Vitamin B-12 status of long-term adherents of a strict uncooked vegan diet ("living food diet") is compromised

Rauma AL, Torronen R, Hanninen O, Mykkanen H.

Department of Clinical Nutrition, University of Kuopio, Finland.

The present study examined the vitamin B-12 status in long-term adherents of a strict uncooked vegan diet called the "living food diet." The study was comprised of two parts. In the cross-sectional part, the data on serum vitamin B-12 concentrations and dietary intakes in 21 (1 male, 20 females) long-term adherents (mean 5.2 y, range 0.7-14) of the "living food diet" were compared with those of 21 omnivorous controls matched for sex, age, social status and residence. In the longitudinal part of the study, food consumption data were collected and blood samples were taken from nine "living food eaters" (1 male, 8 females) on two occasions 2 y apart. The cross-sectional study revealed significantly (P < 0.001, paired t test) lower serum vitamin B-12 concentrations in the vegans (mean 193 pmol/L, range 35-408) compared with their matched omnivorous controls (311, 131-482). In the vegan group, total vitamin B-12 intake correlated significantly (r = 0.63, P < 0.01) with serum vitamin B-12 concentration. The vegans consuming Nori and/or Chlorella seaweeds (n = 16) had serum vitamin B-12 concentrations twice as high as those not using these seaweeds (n = 5) (mean 221 pmol/L, range 75-408, vs. 105, 35-252, P = 0.025). In the longitudinal study, six of nine vegans showed slow, but consistent deterioration of vitamin B-12 status over a 2-y observation period. On the basis of these results we conclude that some seaweeds consumed in large amounts can supply adequate amounts of bioavailable vitamin B-12.

J Nutr 1995 Oct;125(10):2511-2515

I noticed that of the long-term adherents of the "living food diet", some had very high serum B12 levels, and some very low. There are a number of factors that would account for this. Some of the omnivorous group had low levels also. It should be noted that "low" for someone living more in harmony with nature may actually be normal (natural), meaning that healthy-lifestyle people may require less B12 than their meat, soda, dairy, stressed, dehydrated, tired, not-the-happiest-of-campers counterparts. But the study did not address this. Besides, B12 utilization, rather than B12 blood levels, is the key factor to consider; something else this study did not address. Homocysteine levels and MMA assay would have been more telling than blood serum levels. And the study didn't take into account the SUPPLY & DEMAND issue (we may need more B12 today due to amounts of stress that we're not adapted to deal with than the body is capable of supplying. And what about the unnatural lifestyle and dietary practices that interfere with the body's ability to make B12. More on these issues in my B12 article. This illustrates how supposedly knowledgeable people doing a study can completely miss the boat, rendering the study essentially meaningless.

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Shifting from a conventional diet to an uncooked vegan diet reversibly alters fecal hydrolytic activities in humans

Ling WH, Hanninen O.

Department of Physiology, University of Kuopio, Finland.

We studied the effect on fecal hydrolytic activities of adopting an uncooked extreme vegan diet and readopting a conventional diet. Eighteen subjects were randomly divided into test and control groups. In the test group subjects adopted the uncooked extreme vegan diet for 1 month and then resumed a conventional diet for a second month. Controls consumed a conventional diet throughout the study. Phenol and p-cresol concentrations in serum and daily output in urine and fecal enzyme activities were measured. The activity of fecal urease significantly decreased (by 66%) as did cholylglycine hydrolase (55%), beta-glucuronidase (33%) and beta-glucosidase (40%) within 1 wk of beginning the vegan diet. The new level remained throughout the period of consuming this diet. Phenol and p-cresol concentrations in serum and daily outputs in urine significantly declined. The fecal enzyme activities returned to normal values within 2 wk of resuming the conventional diet. Concentrations of phenol and p-cresol in serum and daily output in urine had returned to normal after 1 mo of consuming the conventional diet. No changes were observed in the control group during the study. Results suggest that this uncooked extreme vegan diet causes a decrease in bacterial enzymes and certain toxic products that have been implicated in colon cancer risk.

J Nutr 1992 APR;122(4):924-930

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Vegan diet alleviates fibromyalgia symptoms

Kaartinen K, Lammi K, Hypen M, Nenonen M, Hanninen O, Rauma AL.

Department of Physiology, University of Kuopio, Finland. hietanen.kaartinen@pp.inet.fi

The effect of a strict, low-salt, uncooked vegan diet rich in lactobacteria on symptoms in 18 fibromyalgia patients during and after a 3-month intervention period in an open, non-randomized controlled study was evaluated. As control 15 patients continued their omnivorous diet. The groups did not differ significantly from each other in the beginning of the study in any other parameters except in pain and urine sodium. The results revealed significant improvements in Visual analogue scale of pain (VAS) (p=0.005), joint stiffness (p=0.001), quality of sleep (p=0.0001), Health assessment questionnaire (HAQ) (p=0.031), General health questionnaire (GHQ) (p=0.021), and a rheumatologist's own questionnaire (p=0.038). The majority of patients were overweight to some extent at the beginning of the study and shifting to a vegan food caused a significant reduction in body mass index (BMI) (p=0.0001). Total serum cholesterol showed a statistically significant lowering (p=0.003). Urine sodium dropped to 1/3 of the beginning values (p=0.0001) indicating good diet compliance. It can be concluded that vegan diet had beneficial effects on fibromyalgia symptoms at least in the short run.

Scand J Rheumatol 2000;29(5):308-313

I find it interesting that out of the 18 people, only three people ate the uncooked vegan diet. Why not divide the 18 in half? And I can't help but feel that the inclusion of the phrase"...at least in the short run" doesn't belong in a scientific conclusion. If the writer was biased against a vegan diet, that might explain it. I might have said, "Studies of longer duration are needed to determine long term effects" but then again, that would be stating the obvious.

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Vegan diet in physiological health promotion

Hanninen O, Rauma AL, Kaartinen K, Nenonen M.

Department of Physiology, University of Kuopio, Finland.

We have performed a number of studies including dietary interventions and cross-sectional studies on subjects consuming uncooked vegan food (raw food) and clarified the changes in several parameters related to health risk factors. This raw food diet consists of germinated seeds, cereals, sprouts, vegetables, fruits, berries and nuts. Some items are fermented and contain a lot of lactobacilli. The diet is rich in fiber. It has very little sodium, and it contains no cholesterol. Food items like berries and wheat grass juice are rich in antioxidants such as carotenoids and flavonoids. The subjects eating raw foods show increased levels of carotenoids and vitamins C and E and lowered cholesterol concentration in their sera. Urinary excretion of sodium is only a fraction of the omnivorous controls. Also urinary output of phenol and p-cresol is lowered as are several fecal enzyme levels which are considered harmful. The rheumatoid arthritis patients eating the raw food diet reported amelioration of their pain, swelling of joints and morning stiffness which all got worse after finishing the raw food diet. The composite indices of objective measures showed also improvement of the rheumatoid arthritis patients during the intervention. The fibromyalgic subjects eating raw foods lost weight compared to their omnivorous controls. The results on their joint stiffness and pain (visual analogue scale), on their quality of sleep, on health assessment questionnaire and on general health questionnaire all improved. It appears that the adoption of a vegan diet exemplified by a raw food diet leads to a lessening of several health risk factors to cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Rheumatoid patients subjectively benefited from the vegan diet which was also seen in serum parameters and fecal analyses.

Acta Physiol Hung 1999;86(3-4):171-180

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Uncooked, lactobacilli-rich, vegan food
and rheumatoid arthritis

Nenonen MT, Helve TA, Rauma AL, Hanninen OO.

Department of Physiology, University of Kuopio, Finland.

We tested the effects of an uncooked vegan diet, rich in lactobacilli, in rheumatoid patients randomized into diet and control groups. The intervention group experienced subjective relief of rheumatic symptoms during intervention. A return to an omnivorous diet aggravated symptoms. Half of the patients experienced adverse effects (nausea, diarrhea) during the diet and stopped the experiment prematurely. Indicators of rheumatic disease activity did not differ statistically between groups. The positive subjective effect experienced by the patients was not discernible in the more objective measures of disease activity (Health Assessment Questionnaire, duration of morning stiffness, pain at rest and pain on movement). However, a composite index showed a higher number of patients with 3-5 improved disease activity measures in the intervention group. Stepwise regression analysis associated a decrease in the disease activity (measured as change in the Disease Activity Score, DAs) with lactobacilli-rich and chlorophyll-rich drinks, increase in fiber intake, and no need for gold, methotrexate or steroid medication (R2=0.48, P=0.02). The results showed that an uncooked vegan diet, rich in lactobacilli, decreased subjective symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Large amounts of living lactobacilli consumed daily may also have positive effects on objective measures of rheumatoid arthritis.

Br J Rheumatol 1998 Mar;37(3):274-281

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Raw Vegetables Protect Against Cancer

A review of 206 human epidemiologic studies and 22 animal studies on the relationship between fruits and vegetables and cancer risk found that: RAW VEGETABLES ARE THE NUMBER ONE PROTECTIVE FOOD AGAINST CANCER.
Steinmetz KA, Potter JD. Vegetables, fruit, and cancer prevention: a review.
J Am Diet Assoc 1996 Oct;96(10):1027-39
World Cancer Research Fund, London, England.

This is not to imply that you should eat more vegetables than fruit. Vegetables are a better source of certain minerals than fruit, but are a poor source of fuel (measured in calories). Fruits are a healthy source of simple carbohydrates and other nutrients not abundant in vegetables. As far as "protective foods" go, fruits and veggies are your best bet.

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Raw Food Eaters: Health Habits and Nutrient Intake

International recommendations for a healthy diet include a substantial consumption of fresh uncooked fruit and vegetables as a source especially for vitamins, minerals and other protective factors. Much research has been conducted on the effect of a low consumption of these foodstuffs, which is reflected by the average Western diet, but not on a high consumption. In order to examine the latter effect on humans the nutritive status of a group of raw food eaters whose diet consist almost exclusively of fruit and vegetables was examined... The intake of nutrients that are usually provided by foods of animal origin such as vitamins B12 and D, zinc and calcium is insufficient. On the other hand, the intake of certain protective nutrients, such as Vitamin C and other antioxidants, lie above the national average... The data show that an almost exclusive consumption of raw fruit and vegetables bear some advantages for nutrient intake. - C. Strassner, S. Doerries, K. Kwanbunjan , C. Leitzmann, 16th International Congress of Nutrition, 27.7-1.8.1997, Montreal, Canada

B12 is not well provided by an animal-based diet because whatever B12 is contained in animal products is destroyed by the heat of cooking. Many animal food eaters are deficient in B12. If not for the fact that they are eating foods fortified with B12, many would be in serious trouble. Vitamin D comes from sunshine, not diet. Calcium is more than adequately provided by a plant-based diet. This shows that the authors of this study are lacking in accurate nutritional information, but it is heartening that they undertook the study.

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High fruit and vegetable intake positively correlated with antioxidant status, cognitive performance
September 9, 2009

Researchers at the Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology I of the Heinrich-Heine University, Düsseldorf, Germany, investigated the relationship between fruit and vegetable intake, plasma antioxidant micronutrient status and cognitive performance in healthy subjects aged 45 to 102 years. Their results, published in the August issue of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, indicated higher cognitive performance in individuals with high daily intake of fruits and vegetables.

Subjects with a high daily intake (about 400 g) of fruits and vegetables had higher antioxidant levels, lower indicators of free radical-induced damage against lipids as well as better cognitive performance compared to healthy subjects of any age consuming low amounts (< 100 g/day) of fruits and vegetables. Modification of nutritional habits aimed at increasing intake of fruits and vegetables, therefore, should be encouraged to lower the prevalence of cognitive impairment.

The work was performed in collaboration with the Department of Pharmacology at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Department of Geriatrics at Perugia University, Italy, and the Department of Neurology of the St. Elisabeth Hospital in Cologne, Germany.

Dr. M. Cristina Polidori, currently at the Department of Geriatrics, Marienhospital Herne, Ruhr-University of Bochum, Germany, explains: "It is known that there is a strong association between fruit and vegetable intake and the natural antioxidant defenses of the body against free radicals. It is also known that bad nutritional habits increase the risk of developing cognitive impairment with and without dementia. With this work we show a multiple link between fruit and vegetable intake, antioxidant defenses and cognitive performance, in the absence of disease and independent of age. Among other lifestyle habits, it is recommended to improve nutrition in general and fruit and vegetable intake in particular at any age, beginning as early as possible. This may increase our chances to remain free of dementia in advanced age."

These findings are independent of age, gender, body mass index, level of education, lipid profile and albumin levels, all factors able to influence cognitive and antioxidant status. The relevance of the findings is also strengthened by the large sample that included 193 healthy subjects.

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Healthy living is the best revenge: findings from the European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer and Nutrition - Potsdam study
Ford ES, Bergmann MM, Kröger J, Schienkiewitz A, Weikert C, Boeing H.

Division of Adult and Community Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA 30341, USA. eford@cdc.gov

Summary

In the summer of 2009, this paper was published by CDC scientists and their colleagues – in the Archives of Internal Medicine this time – examining lifestyle factors and health. The investigators surveyed over 23,000 German adults about four behaviors: smoking (yes or no); eating well (yes or no); getting regular physical activity (yes or no); and maintaining a recommended weight (yes or no). That weight is not a behavior is an important aside, but a topic for another day. Those with all good answers – not smoking, eating well, staying active, and being lean – as compared to those with all bad answers – had roughly an 80% lesser likelihood of experiencing any major chronic disease. Flipping the switch from bad to good on any one of the factors was associated with a 50% reduced probability of chronic disease.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Our objective was to describe the reduction in relative risk of developing major chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer associated with 4 healthy lifestyle factors among German adults. METHODS: We used data from 23,153 German participants aged 35 to 65 years from the European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer and Nutrition - Potsdam study. End points included confirmed incident type 2 diabetes mellitus, myocardial infarction, stroke, and cancer. The 4 factors were never smoking, having a body mass index lower than 30 (calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared), performing 3.5 h/wk or more of physical activity, and adhering to healthy dietary principles (high intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain bread and low meat consumption). The 4 factors (healthy, 1 point; unhealthy, 0 points) were summed to form an index that ranged from 0 to 4. RESULTS: During a mean follow-up of 7.8 years, 2006 participants developed new-onset diabetes (3.7%), myocardial infarction (0.9%), stroke (0.8%), or cancer (3.8%). Fewer than 4% of participants had zero healthy factors, most had 1 to 3 healthy factors, and approximately 9% had 4 factors. After adjusting for age, sex, educational status, and occupational status, the hazard ratio for developing a chronic disease decreased progressively as the number of healthy factors increased. Participants with all 4 factors at baseline had a 78% (95% confidence interval [CI], 72% to 83%) lower risk of developing a chronic disease (diabetes, 93% [95% CI, 88% to 95%]; myocardial infarction, 81% [95% CI, 47% to 93%]; stroke, 50% [95% CI, -18% to 79%]; and cancer, 36% [95% CI, 5% to 57%]) than participants without a healthy factor. CONCLUSION: Adhering to 4 simple healthy lifestyle factors can have a strong impact on the prevention of chronic diseases.

Don's comments: Imagine what impact the adherance to all the basics of health would have!

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Influence of individual and combined health behaviors on total and cause-specific mortality in men and women: the United Kingdom health and lifestyle survey

Arch Intern Med. 2010 Apr 26;170(8):711-8., Kvaavik E, Batty GD, Ursin G, Huxley R, Gale CR.

Department of Nutrition, University of Oslo, PO Box 1046 Blindern, N-0316 Oslo, Norway. ekvaavik@medisin.uio.no

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Physical activity, diet, smoking, and alcohol consumption have been shown to be related to mortality. We examined prospectively the individual and combined influence of these risk factors on total and cause-specific mortality. METHODS: The prospective cohort study included 4886 individuals at least 18 years old from a United Kingdom-wide population in 1984 to 1985. A health behavior score was calculated, allocating 1 point for each poor behavior: smoking; fruits and vegetables consumed less than 3 times daily; less than 2 hours physical activity per week; and weekly consumption of more than 14 units of alcohol (in women) and more than 21 units (in men) (range of points, 0-4). We examined the relationship between health behaviors and mortality using Cox models and compared it with the mortality risk associated with aging. RESULTS: During a mean follow-up period of 20 years, 1080 participants died, 431 from cardiovascular diseases, 318 from cancer, and 331 from other causes. Adjusted hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for total mortality associated with 1, 2, 3, and 4 poor health behaviors compared with those with none were 1.85 (95% CI, 1.28-2.68), 2.23 (95% CI, 1.55-3.20), 2.76 (95% CI, 1.91-3.99), and 3.49 (95% CI, 2.31-5.26), respectively (P value for trend, <.001). The effect of combined health behaviors was strongest for other deaths and weakest for cancer mortality. Those with 4 compared with those with no poor health behaviors had an all-cause mortality risk equivalent to being 12 years older. CONCLUSION: The combined effect of poor health behaviors on mortality was substantial, indicating that modest, but sustained, improvements to diet and lifestyle could have significant public health benefits.

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Changes in prostate gene expression in men undergoing an intensive nutrition and lifestyle intervention

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Jun 17;105(24):8369-74. Epub 2008 Jun 16., Ornish D, Magbanua MJ, Weidner G, Weinberg V, Kemp C, Green C, Mattie MD, Marlin R, Simko J, Shinohara K, Haqq CM, Carroll PR.

Department of Urology, The Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of California, 2340 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA 94115, USA.

Summary

In this study, reported in 2008 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 30 men with early stage prostate cancer received an intensive lifestyle intervention for three months: wholesome, plant-based nutrition, stress management, moderate exercise, and psychosocial support. Standard measures – weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, and so on – all improved significantly, as one would expect. But what makes this study unique – and ground-breaking – is that it measured, using advanced laboratory techniques, the effects of the intervention on genes. Roughly 50 cancer suppressor genes became more active, and nearly 500 cancer promoter genes became less so.

Abstract

Epidemiological and prospective studies indicate that comprehensive lifestyle changes may modify the progression of prostate cancer. However, the molecular mechanisms by which improvements in diet and lifestyle might affect the prostate microenvironment are poorly understood. We conducted a pilot study to examine changes in prostate gene expression in a unique population of men with low-risk prostate cancer who declined immediate surgery, hormonal therapy, or radiation and participated in an intensive nutrition and lifestyle intervention while undergoing careful surveillance for tumor progression. Consistent with previous studies, significant improvements in weight, abdominal obesity, blood pressure, and lipid profile were observed (all P < 0.05), and surveillance of low-risk patients was safe. Gene expression profiles were obtained from 30 participants, pairing RNA samples from control prostate needle biopsy taken before intervention to RNA from the same patient's 3-month postintervention biopsy. Quantitative real-time PCR was used to validate array observations for selected transcripts. Two-class paired analysis of global gene expression using significance analysis of microarrays detected 48 up-regulated and 453 down-regulated transcripts after the intervention. Pathway analysis identified significant modulation of biological processes that have critical roles in tumorigenesis, including protein metabolism and modification, intracellular protein traffic, and protein phosphorylation (all P < 0.05). Intensive nutrition and lifestyle changes may modulate gene expression in the prostate. Understanding the prostate molecular response to comprehensive lifestyle changes may strengthen efforts to develop effective prevention and treatment.

Don's comments: What this study refers to as "intensive nutrition and lifestyle intervention" is simply living in accordance with nature's "directives". And although the "intensive nutrition and lifestyle intervention" protocols used in this study were much improved from the typical diet and lifestyle practices of Americans, they were not nearly as close to what nature "recommends" as they could have been; imagine the outcome of a study where the healthiest of foods was all the participants ate, and they paid equal attention to all the basics of health, and not just some.

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Effects of a raw food diet on hypertension and obesity

Douglass JM, Rasgon IM, Fleiss PM, Schmidt RD, Peters SN, Abelmann EA

Southern Medical Journal [1985, 78(7):841-844]

Abstract

We examined responses to cooked and uncooked food in 32 outpatients with essential hypertension; 28 were also overweight. By varying cooked and uncooked food percentages and salt intake, patients acted as their own control subjects in this unblinded study. After a mean duration of 6.7 months, average intake of uncooked food comprised 62% of calories ingested. Mean weight loss was 3.8 kg and mean diastolic pressure reduction 17.8 mm Hg, both statistically significant (P less than .00001). Eighty percent of those who smoked or drank alcohol abstained spontaneously.

Don's comments: And since empirical evidence shows that the closer you get to an all raw diet, the more profound the health improvements, imagine if these people had consumed more than 62% of their diet as raw fruits and veggies. And this study supports what we find to be true concerning the cessation of unhealthy habits such as smoking and drinking... the healthier you get, the less you'll want to do those things because the feedback you'll get from your body makes it too difficult to continue doing them. So a healthy diet is better than patches and shear willpower.

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Dietary Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load and Risk of Pancreatic Cancer: A Case-Control Study

Sugary foods linked to pancreatic cancer risk, but not to fruit

People with diets high in sweets and other foods that cause rapid blood-sugar spikes may have a higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer than those who eat less of those foods.

In the new study, researchers found no relationship between the total carbohydrates in participants' diets and their risk of pancreatic cancer. But when they focused on fruit intake, higher consumption was related to a lower risk of the disease. In contrast, there was a relationship between increased pancreatic cancer risk and higher intakes of sugar, candy, honey and jam. This suggests that sugary, processed carbohydrates – rather than carbs like fiber-rich grains, fruits and vegetables – may be particularly linked to pancreatic cancer, the researchers report in the Annals of Epidemiology. [Emphasis mine]

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And I can't leave the topic of studies without including some studies that demonstrate
meat eating's negative effect on health.

Meat intake and mortality: a prospective study of over half a million people

Dietary fatty acids and pancreatic cancer in the NIH-AARP diet and health study

Chicken as reservoir for extraintestinal pathogenic Escherichia coli in humans

Red Meat Consumption and Mortality

Processed meat and the risk of cancer

Post-diagnosis dietary factors and survival after invasive breast cancer

Diet, vegetarianism, and cataract risk

Diet-induced metabolic acidosis

Advanced Glycation End Products in Foods

Caloric Restriction vs. Animal Protein Restriction

Preliminary evidence that vegetarian diet improves mood

Associations between meat consumption and the prevalence of degenerative arthritis

Animal protein intake and risk of inflammatory bowel disease

Adverse Effects Associated with Protein Intake above the RDI for Adults

Analysis of Health Problems with High-Protein/Fat, Carbohydrate-Restricted Diets

Vegetarian diets are associated with healthy mood states

Cowspiracy
- If you care about your health and the health of the planet, a must-watch film.

See also:

The Benefits of Eating Uncooked Food

The Natural Diet Primer

Why Eat Raw Foods?

Why Most Diets Don't Work

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