New Study Shows What Vegan Diets Do For Heart Health, Endurance Athletes & Sport Performance

IN BRIEF

  • The Facts:Another study has emerged showing that plant-based diets not only give endurance athletes an edge when it comes to heart health, performance, and recovery, but it also satisfies their nutritional needs.
  • Reflect On:With so many examples and so much science showing how a vegan diet is nothing but beneficial for our own biology as well as the planet, why do some choose to not acknowledge it or claim that this information is false?

It’s concerning how so much focus is put on transitioning from fossil fuels to clean energy technology, and absolutely no attention is paid to animal agriculture. Everybody on the planet could drive electric cars and all industries could use clean energy technology and that still would not even compare to the environmental impact of everyone adopting a plant-based diet. Due to the fact that approximately 80 percent of the Amazon rainforest is destroyed for animal agriculture, reducing our meat and dairy production would provide us with an opportunity to restore Earth’s lungs. CO2 has been much higher in the past, but deforestation was never been this bad. How come CO2 and fossil fuels are constantly being addressed, yet animal agriculture and deforestation are virtually ignored?

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Not only do we have environmental incentives to drastically reduce our consumption of animal products, but we also have animal cruelty and health reasons which clearly prove that human beings thrive best off a plant-based diet. Perhaps our biology is built for a plant based diet like gorillas, giraffes, elephants, bulls, the vegan Neanderthals of Spain, and all other species who roam and have roamed Earth that are completely vegan. Are we really built to eat meat, or have we just been brainwashed by food companies so they can profit off our consumption of it?

“When you actually look at the way our digestive systems are constructed, we have the anatomy and the physiology of a strict plant eater or herbivore.  We don’t have any adaptations in our digestive system or in our physiology that is adapted to eating or consuming animal flesh. And that’s why we can’t consume animal flesh without the aid of technology. But when you look at the jaw structure, jaw mechanics, our esophagus, our stomach and the length of our intestines, it’s clear that we have the anatomy of a committed herbivore.” – Dr. Milton Mills

There are countless studies showing that a plant-based diet is extremely healthy as well as a great way to prevent and reverse a wide variety of diseases. We will get to those later, but for now, let’s focus on one of the latest pieces of research on this subject.

new review recently published in the journal Nutrients discovered that plant-based diets not only give endurance athletes an edge when it comes to heart health, performance, and recovery, but it also satisfies their nutritional needs. This isn’t a surprise, and it complements a wealth of studies that found that a plant-based diet results in a significantly lower risk and even reversal of heart diseases including atherosclerosis and myocardial damage. According to one study cited in the review, 44 percent of middle-aged and older endurance runners and cyclists had coronary plaques, which can increase heart disease risk. This is why this study is so eye-opening, it’s well known that endurance athletes have a greater risk of developing this disease, and a plant-based diet could help prevent it.

“Studies are confirming the health benefits of meat-free eating. Nowadays, plant-based eating is recognized as not only nutritionally sufficient but also as a way to reduce the risk for many chronic illnesses.” – Harvard Medical School (source)

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The risk of death from heart disease is significantly lower in vegetarians, and even lower in vegans. It’s 50 percent for meat eaters, 15 percent for vegetarians and 4 percent for vegans. Clearly, meat eating is not good for your heart.  Research published by doctors Dean Ornish and Caldwell Esselstyn, for example, shows that intensive lifestyle changes may halt and can even reverse heart disease. (source)(source)

When it comes to a vegan diet and heart health, the benefits are now firmly established in scientific literature. So, why is there so much disbelief? It’s the same reason why multiple editors-in-chief of peer-reviewed journals came out and blatantly said most of the research published these days is completely false. What are we supposed to think when new publications offer a different narrative than the ones presented by major food corporations?

A recent FOIA investigation actually uncovered documents that show how the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) manipulates media and science press. This is hardly a surprise, as government agencies have long been involved with media manipulation, and several mainstream media journalists and news anchors have exposed this time and time again.

“I want to convey to my fellow physicians that food truly is medicine and that a great body of evidence supports using a whole-food plant-based diet for the prevention and treatment of our leading chronic diseases. I also hope to dispel common nutrition myths and teach basic, practical nutrition counselling skills for use in the primary care setting. It’s important to acknowledge that many physicians themselves do not practice healthy lifestyle habits, from diet to exercise to stress reduction. It would serve our patients well for more of us to become role models of health, but even if we cannot, we still have a responsibility to counsel our patients on the lifesaving tools of nutrition and lifestyle change. Most of our patients trust our advice.” – Michelle McMacken, internal medicine physician, Assistant Professor of Medicine, NYU School of Medicine Director (source)

I believe doctors and medical education play a large role in why many people still believe animal products are healthy, despite the fact that so many scientific studies prove otherwise. It’s confusing to say the least.

A plant-based diet can offset these risk factors. “A low-fat, vegetarian diet is the most effective dietary pattern clinically shown to reverse plaque,” the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), which had several staff members serve as study co-authors, said in a statement. Atherosclerosis is also triggered by high blood pressure, diabetes and excess weight, all of which a plant-based diet addresses.

Meanwhile, endurance athletes on a plant-based diet often have lower body fat, which can give them a performance advantage. “Athletes with lower body fat increase their aerobic capacity, which is the ability to use oxygen to fuel exercise,” says Susan Levin, MD, a board-certified specialist in sports dietetics and director of nutrition education for PCRM. “Studies show that athletes on a plant-based diet increase their VO2 max—the maximum amount of oxygen they can use during intense exercise—leading to better endurance.” And because carbohydrates are the main source of fuel during aerobic exercise, a plant-based diet, which is carbohydrate-rich, gives athletes the fuel they need. (source)

Levin stated that these findings are significant not only for professional and Olympic-level athletes, but also for everyday athletes and all people in general.

“Everyday athletes experience the same boost from a plant-based diet as gold medal Olympians, Super Bowl winners, and Wimbledon champions. The performance and recovery benefits provided by the fiber, carbohydrates, antioxidants, and other nutrients found in a plant-based diet are the same whether you’re running a 5k marathon.” (source)

The Takeaway

Dr. Ellsworth Wareham (Ex Heart Surgeon) explains:

“Veganism is a very fine form of nutrition. It’s a little extreme to tell a person who is using flesh foods that you’re going to take everything entirely away from them. When I was in practice in medicine, I would tell the patients that the vegetable-based diet was the healthy way to go, and to keep away from the animal products as much as possible. People are very sensitive about what they eat. You can talk to people about exercising, relaxation, good mental attitude and they will accept that. But you talk to them about what they are eating and people are very sensitive about that. If an individual is willing to listen, I will try to explain to them on a scientific basis of how I think it’s better for them.”  (source)

The key here is to learn not to react in a harsh manner just because something goes against what you believe in. Facts are facts, and the bottom line seems to be that a whole food, plant-based diet is a very healthy option for human beings as well as the planet. Billions of animals are grown and slaughtered for meat consumption every year. It’s very inhumane, and it suggests that humanity has lost touch with compassion, empathy, and their emotions. This planet represents a home to all of us, and once we deprogram ourselves from the false information we’ve been taught about our diets, it becomes clear that what comes natural to human beings is far different than what we’ve been told.

Cutting down your consumption of or completely giving up animal products does nothing but change the world for the better.

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