Search Health Studies

Search Results

Vegetarians Show Lower Risk Markers

Nutritionists in Slovakia assessed markers of age-related disease in healthy, non-obese, non-smoking women age 60-70 years, comparing 45 vegetarians / semi-vegetarians with 38 non-vegetarians. Vegetarians had significantly reduce total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, C-reactive protein, glucose, insulin and insulin resistance compared to non-vegetarians. They also had much higher antioxidant plasma concentrations.
Bratislavské Lekárske Listy. 2011; 112(11):610-3 (Krajcovicova-Kudlackova et al.)

Diverticular Disease and Vegetarian Diet

Diverticular disease is a disease of the colon that is characterized by outpocketings (diverticula) of the colonic mucosa.  This disease can lead to further complications such as diverticulitis (infection of the diverticula), bleeding or perforations of the colon, and intestinal obstruction.  This disease is often associated with diets that are low in fiber and high in red meat.  Using  European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) data, researchers at Oxford followed 47,033 U.K. adults (including 15,459 vegetarians) for more than 11 years, to examine the associations of vegetarianism and the intake of dietary fiber with the risk of diverticular disease.  The study concluded that consuming a vegetarian diet and high intake of dietary fiber were both associated with a lower risk of admission to hospital or death from diverticular disease.  
British Medical Journal. June 2011; 343:d4131 [Crowe F et al.]

Vegetarian Diet for Weight Management

A vegetarian diet typically excludes meat from all sources. It is characterized by the inclusion of grains, legumes, fruit, vegetables, and oils and may or may not include dairy products or eggs. A strict vegetarian or vegan diet excludes all animal products, including eggs, milk, and cheese.  Data document that individuals following a vegetarian dietary pattern typically have lower cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and lower body mass index (BMI). This places them at a lower risk for many diseases including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and hypertension. Individuals following a vegetarian diet tend to be leaner than their omnivore counterparts. This is potentially accomplished by avoiding meat and focusing instead on a low-calorie, high nutrient-density diet.  The nutrients with the most positive effects come from plant sources including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, oils, and legumes.  The nutrients include dietary fiber, healthy fats, and vitamins and minerals.  It appears that the vegetarian dietary pattern can naturally induce weight loss and also maintain healthy weight status long term.  
Journal of the American Dietetic Association, June 2011; 111(6):816-8 [Thedford K et al.]

Nutrient-Dense Veg Diet and Weight

A group of independent nutrition consultants studied NHANES data (1999-2004) for 13,292 adults, including 851 identified as vegetarians and 4,635 identified as dieters, in an effort to determine if vegetarian diets could provide sufficient nutrients while still managing body weight. The study found that vegetarian diets are nutrient dense, consistent with dietary guidelines, and could be recommended for weight management.
Journal of the American Dietetic Association. June 2011; 111(6):819-827 [Farmer B et al.]

Reducing Meat Intake May Cut Risk of Metabolic Syndrome

Researchers from Loma Linda University in California investigated the relationship between diet type and prevalence of the Metabolic Syndrome, a condition characterized by the presence of various risk factors (HDL cholesterol, serum triglycerides, blood glucose, blood pressure, and waist circumference). The researchers found that a vegetarian diet pattern was associated with the lowest prevalence of Metabolic Syndrome. Vegetarians were also less likely to have most of the individual risk factors.
Diabetes Care. 2011 May;34:1225-1227. (Rizzo et al.)

Diabetes Markers Improve on Veg Diet

It has been well documented that the prevalence of type 2 diabetes is significantly lower in vegetarians as compared to non-vegetarians.  It has also been documented that vegetarian diets can help treat type 2 diabetes.  Scientists at Charles University in Prague hypothesized that vegetarian diets treat type 2 diabetes through a combination of total weight loss, reduction in visceral fat, and reduction in fasting blood glucose.  They conducted a 24-week randomized, open study of 74 patients to compare the effects of two diets – conventional and vegetarian , both with the same number of restricted calories – on insulin resistance, volume of visceral fat and plasma markers of oxidative stress.  The study found that the vegetarian diet had a greater capacity to improve insulin sensitivity as compared to an omnivorous control diet.
Diabetic Medicine.  May 2011; 28:549-559 [Kahleova H et al.]

Creatine Supplementation May Improve Memory in Vegetarians

It has been shown that vegetarians have lower dietary intakes of creatine, and while the body synthesizes creatine, vegetarians have shown lower levels of muscle creatine than omnivores. Researchers from the University of Swansea and the London Ambulance Service conducted an intervention study on 121 college females, 70 of whom were either vegans or vegetarians. The participants were randomly assigned to either take a creatine supplement or a placebo before completing a series of cognition tests. While there was no significant difference in cognitive functioning between vegetarians and omnivores at baseline, the authors found that creatine supplementation improved memory in vegetarians but not in omnivores. Because this is one of the first studies to examine the role of creatine in cognitive functioning, further examination is warranted.
British Journal of Nutrition. 2011 Apr;105(7):1100-1105. (Benton and Donohoe)

Going Veg May Improve Phosphate Control for People with Kidney Disease

People suffering from advanced chronic kidney disease (CKD) often must limit the amount of phosphorous that they consume due to the kidneys’ declining ability to filter excess phosphorous from the blood. Many high-phosphorous foods are animal derivatives, including meat and milk.  However, phosphorous is also found in plant foods such as legumes, soy, whole grains, and bran. Researchers from Indiana University tested two different diets — one milk and meat based, and one plant based – on a group of 8 patients with advanced CKD. Although the diets were designed to include equivalent amounts of phosphorous, patients exhibited lower blood phosphorous levels after 7 days of consuming the vegetarian diet. The authors believe that the body’s ability to absorb phosphorous from plant foods is limited. Adopting a plant-based diet, therefore, may help improve phosphate control in CKD.
Clinical Journal of the Am. Soc. of Nephrology. 2011 Feb;6:257-64. (Moe et al.)

Plant Calcium Beneficial to Bone Density

In cultures that do not traditionally consume dairy products, vegetables can be an important source of calcium — while at the same time providing key vitamins and minerals that are also essential to bone health. That’s the finding of Korean researchers at Chung Ang University in Seoul, after studying 144 post-menopausal women with osteoporosis and age-matched controls. In their study, the women with the highest intake of vegetables and plant-based calcium had significantly better bone density.
Nutrition Research. January 2011; 31(1):27-32 (Park et al.)

Vegans and Vegetarians at Greater Risk of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Researchers from the University of Oxford and King’s College London analyzed data from blood samples of 689 men of which 226 were omnivores, 231 were vegetarians, and 232 were vegans. They found that mean serum Vitamin B12 was highest among omnivores and lowest among vegans, while mean serum folate was highest among vegans and lowest among omnivores. 52% of the vegans and 7% of the vegetarians were found to be deficient in vitamin B12. Because vitamin B12 deficiency can result in irreversible neurological damage, vegans and vegetarians should ensure a regular intake of sufficient vitamin B12 from fortified foods and/or supplements.
European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2010 Sep;64(9):933-939. (Gilsing et al.)

Vegetarianism – Key to a Better Mood?

Researchers from Arizona State University examined associations between mood and diet type in the context of polyunsaturated fatty acid intake. Vegetarian diets are usually lower in long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA), which many believe are positively related to neural function and mental health. However, while the vegetarians in this study did consume fewer long-chain omega-3 fatty acids than the omnivores, they reported better moods overall. These results suggest that vegetarian diets are not likely associated with poor mood or depression due to low intake of omega-3 fatty acids and in fact may be associated with improved mood.
Nutrition Journal. 2010 Jun 1; 9:26. (Beezhold et al.)

Crohn's Disease Prevention with Plant-Based Diet

A two-year clinical trial conducted in Japan set out to determine whether consuming a semi-vegetarian diet has a preventative effect against relapse of Crohn’s disease. The participants included twenty-two adult patients suffering from Crohn’s disease who had achieved clinical remission either during medical stay or through surgery. Of these patients, 16 of them consumed a semi-vegetarian diet (SVD) over the course of two years.  Remission was maintained in 15 of 16 patients in the SVD group (94%) vs two of six in the omnivorous group.  The results of this study suggest that consuming a semi-vegetarian diet may help Crohn’s disease sufferers from experiencing symptoms of relapse. 
World Journal of Gastroenterology 2010 May 28;16(20):2484-95 (Chiba et al.)