A literature review completed by an Otago Medical School student appears set to establish a turning point in the application of plant-based nutrition in general health care.
Working over the summer semester (2022-23), Joshua Thomas completed an extensive online investigation of all known research on plant-based nutrition. He is now compiling his findings into a paper, which is soon to be released.
Titled, ‘Can Whole Food Nutrition Prevent Lifestyle Related Diseases?‘ his work involved a detailed inspection through numerous online search engines.
“The main ones I used were Google Scholar, PubMed, Scopus and Ovid Embase. There were a variety of keywords I used; some of them were whole food plant-based, reversal and prevention,” he told Whole Food Living. “I specifically focused on reversal of heart disease, prevention of diabetes, prevention of stroke, hypertension and other chronic lifestyle diseases.
“From this search, we found 483 studies. After the exclusion criteria were applied, we had about 45 studies that we analysed in the literary. Of those studies, we found numerous trials; some notable ones were the Broad Study, which was a randomised control trial conducted here in New Zealand. Overall, we have four randomised control trials, 19 intervention studies, five cohort studies, and 16 case studies.”
His literature review found that whole food plant-based nutrition decreases BMI, total LDL cholesterol, HbA1c and fasting blood glucose, as well as systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Medical student Joshua Thomas is based at Otago Medical School, Dunedin, New Zealand.
The project he undertook was partly sponsored by Evidence Based Eating NZ, a registered charity that focuses on raising awareness of the value of plant-based eating for all New Zealanders.
“It improves cardiovascular disease risk factors such as coronary artery occlusion, obesity and preventing recurrent cardiovascular events. It also helps diabetes and its related causes, such as macular oedema and diabetic nephropathy.All benefited by whole food plant-based nutrition.
“Numerous other conditions were shown to be improved. These are all from case studies, not from randomised control trials, things such as breast cancer, arthritis and gut microbiota. People with substance use disorders were shown to have more resilience in abstaining from drug use on a whole food plant-based diet. Also, Crohn’s disease and psoriasis improved.”
He said the findings also showed whole food plant-based eating to be a sustainable diet by the EAT-Lancet Review and, in the Broad Study, was found to be “quite well adhered to when non-calorie restricted.”
Overall, he said, the conclusion was that there was consistent evidence that whole food plant-based nutrition can be used to treat a wide range of lifestyle diseases, although it depends on the individual circumstances and adherence to the diet.