The N.Y. Times wrote an article yesterday about a recent study published in the British medical journal The Lancet. That study reported a 45 percent rise in the prevalence of diabetes worldwide from 1990 to 2013. For the US, that rate was at 71% over the same time. What’s most disturbing, aside from our own statistics, is that the developing world is beginning to see “diseases of affluence” such as cancers, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease at alarming rates. This is as they abandon their traditional diets, in favor of western diets that are heavy with animal-based protein and dairy.
Below is a chart from the Center For Disease Control, showing the increase in diabetes in the US over the last 30 years. 9.3% of the US population is currently diagnosed with diabetes (this is not mentioning that 1 in 3 people actually have the disease, but are either pre-diabetic or not yet diagnosed, Cite: CDC).
The frightening trends of obesity and diabetes we are seeing in our own country (and worldwide), can be traced to a dramatic increase in the amount of animal-based protein and processed foods are nation now consumes. A study done 40 years ago in China, the China Study conducted by Cornell University scientist Dr. Colin T. Campbell, looked at disease rates and rates of cancer in various locations in China. China’s fairly homogenized genetic pool, and the fact that most people resided in their birth villages, allowed the epidemiologists and Dr. Colin Campbell’s team to discern that rates of breast and colon cancers, were largely attributed to diet. The study found that the closer a population was to a plant-based diet, the lower their rates of degenerative disease. This being that the average Chinese consumed 1% or less of total calories from animal-based protein, as compared to US rates of 10-11% of total calories being from animal-based protein (Cite: The China Study). The study also looked at higher rates of fiber consumption, as compared to colo-rectal cancer rates. Average Chinese at that time, consumed 33.3 g of fiber/day, as compared to US levels of 11.1 g/day. Colon cancer rates were indirectly correlated, as fiber consumption increased, rates of cancer decreased. This study has had a profound impact on nutrition research. Unfortunately, a study this large could most likely not be conducted today, as traditional diets in populated areas around China are shifting dramatically. It has been shown that as people move to areas where Western diseases are prevalent, they assume the disease rates of that country. This shows how it is not genetics causing this dramatic shift of diabetes and obesity, rather diet is to blame.
Eating a plant-based diet can help you down a path of health and wellness. It has been shown to help people lose weight, prevent and reverse diabetes (see Dr. Neil Bernard’s site), it has been shown to reverse heart disease by Dr. Dean Ornish, and Dr. Esselstyn (Forks Over Knives fame) of the Cleveland Clinic. Many try to discredit these physicians who are seeing real change with a plant-based diet, as it debunks current medical thinking. We must wake up, not just as a nation, but as a world, and look to the ways that diet can heal, not hurt us.
I began writing to help patients suffering from periodontal disease-since it has great ties to diabetes and heart disease. I feel that the more yummy foods I can help people to try, the more they’ll want to eat plant-based foods. If you know a person/people with diabetes (and I bet you do), share with them a plant-based meal. It takes a village…..
Here’s one of my favorites that all will love!!! Chana Masala-made without oil, and coconut milk can be omitted for a lower fat version.