Last week, at the Unite to Cure Fourth International Vatican Conference, Professor Walter Willett - professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard Medical School - announced that according to new calculations of Harvard scientists, at least one-third of early deaths could be prevented through a plant-based diet.
The team’s finding are yet to be published but are important enough for Professor Willett to say that the benefits of a plant-based diet had been vastly underestimated. He highlighted that the figure (one-third of early deaths prevented) only included a diet change alone. Together with other lifestyle changes such as physical activity, stopping tobacco and alcohol use and stress management, the positive effect would be even greater.
Professor Willett told The Telegraph: ““When we start to look at it we see that healthy diet is related to a lower risk of almost everything that we look at. Perhaps not too surprising because everything in the body is connected by the same underlying processes.”
At the same conference, Professor David Jenkins, of the University of Toronto, told the audience that the benefits of vegetarianism had been ‘undersold’ and that people would be much better off following a ‘simian’ diet - similar to lowland gorillas who eat stems, leaves, vines and fruits.
When his team recreated the diet for humans, they found a 35 per cent fall in cholesterol in just two weeks! Professor Jenkins commented: “That was quite dramatic. We showed that there was no real difference between what we got with the diet and what we got with a statin.” And statins – the default medication for high blood pressure and cholesterol – have a myriad of side effects.
Addressing the conference, Dr Neal Barnard, president of the Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine, said people need to wake up to the immense health benefits of plant-based diets. Drawing on his clinical experience, he said: “A low-fat vegan diet is better than any other diet I have ever seen for improving diabetes.“
A wholesome vegan diet can be a true lifesaver – read about its amazing potential in Viva! Health’s The Incredible Vegan Health Report.
Watch the expert panel video from the conference here.
And you can find the full article reporting on the Vatican conference in The Telegraph here.