Vegetarianism and Diseases of the Century

Since for many people the main reason for switching to a vegetarian diet is the desire to avoid a number of diseases, of particular interest, in our opinion, are literature data on the lesser prevalence of such formidable diseases of the century as cardiovascular diseases and tumors among vegetarians. It has long been noted that people who use mainly plant foods do not suffer from blood pressure disorders.

Vegetarianism and Diseases of the Century

 

The effects of dietary remedies are long lasting, and the effects of drugs are transient. - Hippocrates

 

 

Short-sighted victims of disease would rather relieve their suffering with medicines than prevent them from eating healthy foods. - Shelley

 

Since for many people the main reason for switching to a vegetarian diet is the desire to avoid a number of diseases, of particular interest, in our opinion, are literature data on the lesser prevalence of such formidable diseases of the century as cardiovascular and tumors among vegetarians.

 

It has long been noted that people who use mainly plant foods do not suffer from blood pressure disorders. In England, 48 vegetarians were examined, divided into three groups: 1) vegans (or strict vegetarians), 2) lacto-vegetarians, 3) semi-vegetarians who eat meat on average once a week. Vegans had lower blood pressure and blood and plasma viscosities compared to a control group on a conventional mixed diet. In lacto-ovegetarians, blood pressure and blood and plasma viscosities were significantly lower than in semi-vegetarians. The decrease in blood pressure and blood and plasma viscosity in vegetarians leads to the fact that their risk of developing cardiovascular diseases is much lower compared to people who eat mixed foods.

 

Comparative studies of lipid metabolism indicators in vegetarians and non-vegetarians in terms of the possibility of developing atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease also speak in favor of vegetarian diets.

 

J.L. Rouse and L.J. Beilin in 1984 examined 98 vegetarians and 113 meat-eaters. The vegetarians had significantly less body weight and plasma cholesterol levels compared to the control group.

 

High cholesterol is statistically consistent with an increase in cardiovascular disease. Despite the fact that the causes of atherosclerosis and the mechanism of its development today cannot be considered definitively established, there are still sufficient grounds to assert that a significant role here is played by a high level of cholesterol and triglycerides (the most atherogenic classes of lipids).

 

It is believed that the risk of heart disease disappears more or less completely if the cholesterol level is below 140 mg%. The National American Cholesterol Education Program (NPPC) recommends that everyone over the age of 20 have a cholesterol blood test at least every 5 years.

 

However, the desire to reduce too much total cholesterol is also impractical, since cholesterol is a necessary and irreplaceable component of all cells in our body. Cholesterol has the most important function of the "cell skeleton" and, together with phospholipids, is a structural component of cell membranes. Cholesterol in the body produces bile acids, adrenal cortex hormones, sex hormones. Cholesterol is a precursor to vitamin D and a number of other compounds. Therefore, lowering blood cholesterol levels below 140 mg% is clearly undesirable.

 

However, let's go back to those cases when the level of cholesterol in the blood is high, and consider the changes in nutrition with which this may be associated.

 

The formation of high blood cholesterol levels is facilitated by the consumption of foods such as egg yolks and by-products (liver, kidneys, brains), beef, lamb, pork and processed meat products. Plant products contain absolutely no cholesterol. Every American consumes about 450 milligrams of cholesterol daily (note - one egg contains an average of 250 milligrams of cholesterol). Reducing cholesterol intake to 300 mg per day, according to scientists, may already have a preventive value. There are also indications of the need to reduce the caloric content of the diet.

 

The degree of atherosclerotic disorders in elderly people with a daily diet of 1600-2000 kcal is significantly less than with a caloric content of 2650-3200 kcal. According to the results of a special survey involving 120 men and women over 65 years old, conducted in one of the nursing homes in Madrid, for 3 years in the first group, whose members received a diet with a calorie content of 2300 kcal, the number of deaths and cases was 2 times higher than in the second group, which on even days was on the same diet, and on odd days received 1 liter of milk and 500 g of fresh fruit with a total caloric value of 885 kcal (V.V. Frolkis).

 

A low-calorie, low-cholesterol diet is common among raw foodists and vegans and, to a lesser extent, lacto-ovegetarians. The state of lipid metabolism in representatives of all these groups is not the same. So, it is noted that the most stringent norm corresponds to the level of cholesterol in the blood of vegans and does not constitute a risk of heart disease. The positive effect of vegetarian diets on the serum lipid profile is apparently one of the reasons for the lower mortality from coronary heart disease in vegetarians compared to non-vegetarians. In California, over 21 years, 27,530 Adventists were studied, divided into 3 groups. The first group ate mixed food, the second group were lacto-ovegetarians, and the third were strict vegetarians. Mortality from coronary heart disease in the first group was 14% lower than that of the general population, 57% lower among lacto-ovegetarians, and 77% lower among strict vegetarians. Obviously, the decrease in mortality in the first group eating mixed food can be partially explained by the living conditions of Adventists (quitting smoking, drinking alcohol, etc.). The significant decrease in mortality in lacto-ovegetarians and vegans compared with the control group is certainly associated with the nature of the diet. So, these data show that vegetarian diets significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. can be partially explained by the living conditions of Adventists (quitting smoking, drinking alcohol, etc.). The significant decrease in mortality in lacto-ovegetarians and vegans compared with the control group is certainly associated with the nature of the diet. So, these data show that vegetarian diets significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. can be partially explained by the living conditions of Adventists (quitting smoking, drinking alcohol, etc.). The significant decrease in mortality in lacto-ovegetarians and vegans compared with the control group is certainly associated with the nature of the diet. So, these data show that vegetarian diets significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

 

There are a number of studies that indicate the relationship of the occurrence of cancer with the consumption of meat, eggs, cheese and other proteins of animal origin, as well as with excess consumption of fats.

 

In the book of the famous American physician EB Feldman "Fundamentals of Nutrition in Clinic", published in Philadelphia, it is reported that in the United States, one third of all cases of cancer are caused by unhealthy diet. Eating disorders are primarily caused by cancers of the rectum, breast, prostate and stomach. So, the risk of rectal cancer is directly related to insufficient consumption of vegetables, and with them - dietary fiber, excess consumption of fats and meat, stomach cancer - with the consumption of dried, salted and fried fish, marinades and smoked products, breast cancer - with excess consumption fat.

 

In Colombia, bowel cancer is the main scourge of the wealthy, who consume 9 times more pork, 6 times more eggs and 5 times more milk than low-income people.

 

Scotland, which is characterized by a high-fat diet, had the highest incidence of colon cancer in the world in the late 1980s.

 

The New England Journal of Medicine published data in 1991 showing the relationship between the frequency of meat consumption and the risk of colon cancer. So, the use of beef, pork or lamb just once a week increases the risk of bowel cancer by 40%, the use of these products from 2 to 4 times a week - by 50, from 5 to 6 times a week - by 80%. People who eat chicken 2-7 times a week have a 47% higher risk of colon cancer than people who never eat chicken.

 

That is why, in our opinion, the call of a researcher from Boston Hospital W. Willett is so relevant: "The optimal amount of red meat that is recommended for everyone to eat is zero."

 

Obese women are at a higher risk of breast cancer.

 

Since excess weight is often associated with excess consumption of fatty, high-calorie foods, data on fat consumption in different countries are of some interest. So, in Japan, fat consumption is 8% of the total calorie intake, in India - 13, in Brazil - 18, Italy - 20, Spain - 22, France - 30, England - 35, Sweden - 38, USA - 41%. The incidence of breast cancer is very high (28,000 deaths per year), which correlates with excess dietary fat.

 

According to data for 1988, the incidence of cancer in the United States and Japan is approximately the same, but its types are different. For example, cancers common in the United States — breast, colon, and prostate — are rare in Japan. However, Japanese women living in the United States are 4 times more likely to develop breast cancer than at home. According to one point of view, this is due to a diet change: the main products of the national diet in Japan are rice and fish, and in America, a large amount of fats and meat. Using the example of two groups, one of which included Seventh-day Adventists who are non-strict vegetarians, and the other - people who consume mainly fried fish, in Japan a direct relationship has been established between the consumption of fried fish and the incidence of stomach cancer, which researchers associate with an increase in content of protein breakdown products,

 

The National Science Council in the United States and the American Cancer Society provide a number of recommendations for reducing the risk of food-related cancers. The first recommendation concerns fat intake. It is proposed to reduce the consumption of fats, both saturated and unsaturated, from 41 to 30% of the total caloric intake. A balanced diet adopted in our country assumes the same rate of fat intake.

 

The second recommendation concerns an increase in the consumption of fruits (especially citrus fruits), vegetables (especially carrots and cabbage), as well as grains, that is, it is proposed to consume more coarse-fiber foods. At the same time, it is considered necessary to increase the intake of complex carbohydrates (for example, potatoes) and reduce the intake of simple carbohydrates (for example, refined sugar), as well as pickled, salted and smoked foods.

 

And the third recommendation is to avoid obesity and make food less high in calories.

 

According to the above-mentioned E.B. Feldman, several carcinogenic nutritional factors can be identified that contribute to tumor growth: 1) excessive fat intake, 2) low dietary fiber food, 3) low content of vitamins A, C, E, 4) alcohol consumption, 5) consumption of smoked and pickled products.

 

To prove a direct connection between nutritional factors and the incidence of tumor growth, special studies are needed, which are difficult to carry out methodically. The National Cancer Institute in the United States has organized a survey of healthy women with a high risk of breast cancer due to hereditary factors or benign breast tumors. These women were asked to either continue their diet high in fat or switch to a low fat diet. This study takes 10 years, about 30,000 subjects, and will cost more than $ 100 million (L.A. Cohen). The author asks the question which is better: for the time being, ignore the indirect evidence that indicates the relationship between nutrition and cancer, or give at least preliminary recommendations on nutrition for today. "

 

The Center for Cancer Research in Heidelberg conducted an epidemiological survey of 1904 vegetarians between 1978 and 1983. The group consisted of 858 men (mean age 42 years) and 1,046 women (mean age 50 years). Among those surveyed, 6% are vegans, 27 are lacto-vegetarians, 66% are lacto-vegetarians. 0.5% of the subjects followed a vegetarian diet for one year, and 89% - for more than 5 years.

 

Preliminary results from this study showed that vegetarians are less likely to die from cancer than people on a conventional mixed diet.

 

In addition, vegetarians almost do not suffer from appendicitis, uric acid diathesis, gout, they practically do not develop constipation of an elementary nature, obesity, and less often disorders of the autonomic nervous system are detected.

 

It is known that in countries where meat food prevails, appendicitis occurs very often. So, at the beginning of this century, England ranked first in terms of the incidence of appendicitis, followed by America and North Germany. In Germany, for example, in 1870-1900. from inflammation of the appendix killed as many people as in the entire Franco-Prussian war. A large percentage of the incidence of appendicitis is currently noted in our country.

 

Note that in those countries where plant food predominates, for example, in Algeria, India, appendicitis is observed only as an exception. Here is what the surgeon N.N. Elansky writes about this: "Clinical experience shows that appendicitis is most often observed with an irrational diet of abundant meat food, predisposing to constipation, and is less common in the population, which feeds mainly on plant foods."

 

15/02/2006

 

I.L. Medkova,

Doctor of Medical Sciences,

Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences

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