Tuesday, July 21, 2020

The Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet in Combating Cardiovascular Disease

There is a lot of talk today about plant-based diets, and how they appear to be beneficial in combating many chronic diseases, including obesity, high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease, and cardiovascular disease (CVD). With respect to CVD, people following a plant-based diet may have less heart disease than those following a diet that includes animal products. Even people who have a high genetic risk of CVD can benefit from a plant-based diet.

First of all, what exactly is a plant-based diet? Depending on who you talk to, a plant-based diet can be anything from a semi-vegetarian diet, consisting of very small portions of animal products, to a vegan diet, consisting of absolutely no animal products. At any rate, compared to diets that include animal products, plant-based diets appear to be significantly helpful in the treatment of CVD, and for lowering a person's risk for high blood pressure, diabetes and other unhealthy conditions.

In another study, it was found that “high animal protein intake was positively associated with cardiovascular mortality and high plant protein intake was inversely associated with all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, especially among individuals with at least 1 lifestyle risk factor."

The benefits of a plant-based diet are even evident for those people who have a high genetic CVD risk profile. In a study consisting of 156,148 adult participants, who didn’t have CVD, it was found that adherence to a plant-based diet gradually decreased the risk of CVD even for those who had a high genetic risk of CVD. Indeed, investigators concluded that “adherence to healthy plant-based diets may be associated with a decreased incidence of CVD in the entire population, suggesting that plant-based diet patterns may modify the risk of CVD, regardless of genetic susceptibility.”

Indeed, there are indications that the use of a plant-based diet can improve health, in general, and CVD risk factors in particular. The evidence creates an opportunity for cardiologists and other healthcare providers. Therefore, healthcare providers should learn more about plant-based diets and how to counsel patients on the benefits to be gained from the diet.


Monday, July 20, 2020

The CDC's Diabetes Prevention Program Methods Can Treat Metabolic Syndrome

Approximately a third of Americans have prediabetes. Prediabetes is a condition where an individual has an abnormally high blood glucose that is not high enough to be called type 2 diabetes. And many experts agree that prediabetes is a predictor of type 2 diabetes.  Metabolic syndrome, which is a cluster of potentially unhealthy conditions that happen together, can also be a predictor of type 2 diabetes. It is estimated that about a third of Americans have metabolic syndrome. And just as with prediabetes, the CDC's Diabetes Prevention Program methods can be used to treat metabolic syndrome.

As was stated above, metabolic syndrome is a cluster of potentially unhealthy conditions. The cluster of conditions may typically include any three of the following: excess belly fat, abnormally high blood glucose (but not high enough to be called type 2 diabetes), hypertension, elevated triglyceride or elevated cholesterol levels. One study suggested that “metabolic syndrome was associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.”

The conditions that usually form the metabolic syndrome cluster are, many times, associated with a lack of physical activity, overweight and an unhealthy lifestyle. Therefore, weight-loss related intensive lifestyle intervention (ILI) consisting of heightened physical activity, diet improvement, and behavioral change may be recommended as a treatment for metabolic syndrome.

This lifestyle treatment includes sessions, for participants, that highlight the importance of engaging in at least 150 minutes per week of physical activity, eating a healthy diet that includes whole-grains, vegetables, fruits, healthy protein and losing and maintaining a healthy weight.

The CDC’s Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) was put in place to address prediabetes in an attempt to delay or prevent type 2 diabetes. The DPP uses the type of lifestyle sessions described above for treating prediabetes. And one report indicates that the DPP ILI sessions can be used to prevent or delay metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome and prediabetes can be predictors of type 2 diabetes. Therefore, it is incumbent on healthcare providers to pay close attention to metabolic syndrome and prediabetes. It may also be a good idea to learn how to employ the methods used in the CDC's DPP for possible metabolic and prediabetes treatment.


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