Ideas about nutrition are finally starting to change thanks to an abundance of scientific evidence that stresses that a plant-based diet can prevent many common illnesses and diseases and can thereby greatly improve one’s quality of life. Many athletes, celebrities and politicians are transitioning away from animal products simply because they are convinced by the benefits of vegetarianism. Some of which include lower risk of metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and diabetes.A recent, long term, study by researchers at Loma Linda University (The Adventist Health Study 2) appears to backthis theory as well. According to this study published in the journal of Diabetes Care, on Feb. 2011, vegetarians experienced a thirty-six percent lower rate of metabolic syndrome than the non-vegetarians. The vegetarians had lower triglycerides, glucose levels, blood pressure, waist circumference, and body mass index. Semi-vegetarians also had a significantly lower body mass index and waist circumference compared to those who ate meat more regularly. More specifically of the 733 participants, it was found that twenty-five percent of the vegetarians (those of ate meat, fish, or poultry less than once a month) had metabolic syndrome. On the other hand, thirty-seven percent of the semi vegetarians (those who ate fish regularly and other meats less than once a month) had metabolic syndrome and thirty-nine percent of the non-vegetarians (those who ate animal products regularly) had metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome is a combination of factors that put you at risk for heart disease and type II diabetes. It affects approximately one in five Americans and does not appear to be slowing down. In order to be classified as having metabolic syndrome you must have at least three out of the five risk factors, which include:
- High Blood Pressure
- Higher than normal blood sugar levels
- Low HDL Cholesterol, which is the “good” kind
- High triglycerides
- Excess fat especially carried around the abdominal region
If you have three out of five of these conditions, your risk for heart disease and diabetes is significantly increase. This is very scary considering that the rate of childhood obesity is continuing to increase, which can bring with it many other health risks.
It is important to note, from The Adventist Health Study 2, that although vegetarians experienced a thirty-six percent lower rate of metabolic syndrome than the non-vegetarians, twenty-five percent of the vegetarians still ended up with metabolic syndrome. First and foremost, it is worth mentioning that they did eat animal protein sparingly so one can’t help but wonder what the results would have been for a vegan (100% animal free). Secondly it brings to mind the point that you can still be vegetarian and have a poor diet. Just because a person is vegetarian, doesn’t mean they do not eat processed food, fried food, soda pop, sweets, baked goods and all those other foods that are detrimental to our health. Likewise, it doesn’t guarantee that they do not eat trans fats or processed sugar.
One such study that analyzed the benefits of both a plant based diet and whole food diet (non-processed diet) was done in 2005. A book entitled, The China Study by T. Colin Campbell studied 6,500 adults and concluded that nutrition has a direct link to disease. The findings state that plant based and whole food diets are linked to lower cholesterol levels, lower breast cancer rates, healthier weights and protect us against the main western diseases namely heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, MS, and Alzheimer's.
This sounds very much like the alkaline diet, which incorporates all the wonderful aspects of a plant-based diet without all of the acidic, processed offenders. The alkaline lifestyle is about getting back to basics. It’s about eating plant based, whole food that is packed with nutrients, fiber and antioxidants
Metabolic syndrome can be triggered by other factors as well. These include stress, obesity and lack of exercise. The alkaline lifestyle can also help with such issues as it incorporates mind, body and spirit, which operate in conjunction with diet to prevent disease and allow you to thrive. It is essentially a three-pronged approach towards overall health and complete wellness.
Another good reason to get alkaline!
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