A plant based dietary pattern improves body weight, cholesterol, and blood pressure and reduces the risk for heart disease, according to a review published in Nutrients,(Kahleova H, Salas-Salvadó J, Rahelić D, Kendall CW, Rembert E, Sievenpiper JL. Dietary patterns and cardiometabolic outcomes in diabetes: A summary of systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Nutrients. 2019;11:2209-2237).

Researchers from The Diabetes and Nutrition Study Group (DNSG) of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) and the Physicians Committee reviewed meta-analyses and systematic reviews that compared various diets to health outcomes in order to update clinical guidelines. Current research proves that those who ate diets rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains improved risk factors for heart disease and reduced their risk of death from heart disease.

Recent headlines regarding safety of red meat are based on studies where people eat no more than 3 servings a week. This is a low intake of processed or red meat not typical of the standard

American diet. It is not necessary to follow a vegetarian diet to reap these benefits. Those who choose to have days where they do not eat animal protein or limited portions and increase whole fruits, grains and vegetables, also have increased health benefits.

People with diabetes who followed a plant based dietary pattern lowered body weight and cholesterol. Mechanisms behind the improvements may include increased fiber, plant-based protein, and antioxidants and decreased intake of saturated fat on a vegetarian diet.

For many people dairy increases inflammation in the body.

A plant-based diet comprised of fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes may alleviate painful symptoms associated with inflammatory autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), according to a new review published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition. Clinical trials and observational studies have found strong and consistent evidence that a plant-based dietary pattern can reduce inflammation and improve symptoms associated with RA. Possible mechanisms for pain relief include reduced inflammation, joint swelling, along with weight loss and improved gut bacteria as a result of consuming a plant-based diet. While more research is needed, current literature provides evidence that diets rich in plants offer dense nutrition, fiber and antioxidants that increase overall health and wellness.

Dawn Ritter is a Family Nurse Practitioner, Certified Health and Wellness Coach and owner of Begin Again: Health & Wellbeing LLC. She can be reached at 507-676-7308.

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