A new pilot study investigating the effectiveness of plant-based diets to treat atherosclerosis, the most common complication of diabetes, has shown that it may successfully control the condition.
The case review of a 77 year-old woman with unstable angina and an history of hypertension and hyperlipidemia, who changed her standard balanced Western diet for a whole-food plant-based diet, found that her symptoms had nearly resolved after one month.
The study, which has been conducted by the plant-based cardiologist Robert Ostfeld and his team, has made a strong case for introducing people with type 2 diabetes to plant-based nutrition practice.
The findings, which were published in the Journal of Geriatric Cardiology, looked at dietary aggravating factors for atherosclerosis and its related cardiovascular disease, a severe condition that causes most morbidity and mortality in patients with diabetes.
Proven medical therapy for atherosclerosis, a hardening and narrowing of the arteries, remained incompletely understood and underused until this study that suggests the roots of this disease may lie, in part, in dietary behaviors.
It indicates rather conclusively that modifications of these behaviors may lead to profound improvements.
This original investigation adds to the existing body of literature on the vascular dysfunction parameter that is caused by the metabolic abnormalities in diabetes.
It presents atherosclerosis as a lifestyle disease that can be preventable or controlled with interventions as simple as removing certain problematic animal-based foods from the diet.
This turned out to be a life-changing experience for the 77-year old participant who was gradually developing worsening chest pressure and shortness of breath prior to the study.
Refusing surgery to adopt a whole-food plant-based diet-focused therapy instead, she eliminated all animal derived products, such as eggs, cow’s milk, yoghurt, chicken and beef. The rest of her diet included all vegetables, fruits, whole grains, potatoes, beans, legumes and nuts.
When she presented to the cardiac wellness program one month later, she was able to walk on a treadmill for up to 50 minutes without chest discomfort. Over three months, her total cholesterol had gone down from 5.7 mmol/L to 3.2 mmol/L, and her LDL cholesterol – a surrogate end point for the evaluation of heart disease risks in people with type 2 diabetes – decreased from 3.67 mmol/L to 1.5 mmol/L.
She was, however, placed on a 80 mg high-potency statin (atorvastatin) daily, which could explain most of the dramatic decrease in LDL and overall improvement of her lipid profile.
In the second phase of the study, researchers tested whether the diet was really responsible for the changes observed. Four to five months after the initial lifestyle change, her adherence to a whole-food plant based diet ended and she returned to her prior eating habits, which included chicke, fish, low fat dairy and other animal products multiple times per day.
As a result, her anginal symptoms returned within four to six weeks and she had to undergo coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG).
These observational findings confirmed those of previous large population-based studies who found consumption of animal products to be associated with both increased mortality and incidence of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.

Get our free newsletters

Stay up to date with the latest news, research and breakthroughs.

You May Also Like

Conversation about doctors’ appointments occurring virtually rumbles on

More than half of GP appointments are still being delivered remotely in…

Twice daily dairy intakes could reduce type 2 diabetes risk

Eating cheese, yoghurt or eggs twice a day could help lower the…

Top diabetes professor drafts risk assessment document for frontline COVID-19 staff

The health and wellbeing of frontline NHS staff has been prioritised among…