The Prevention and Treatment of Crohn’s Disease with a Vegetarian Diet

We are delighted to announce that this article was published in the peer-reviewed journal, Advanced Research in Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Feb 16, 2018.

Here is the pdf of the published article

Abstract

Epidemiologic studies show that IBD is prevalent in wealthy nations where dietary westernization usually occurs. Dietary westernization is characterized by increased consumption of animal protein, animal fat, and sugar. An epidemiological study found that the risk of Crohn’s disease reduced by 70% in females and 80% in males following a vegetarian diet.

Treatment with medications, though efficacious to a degree, all have significant adverse reactions. Many of these medications will also be contraindicated in a significant number of patients.

Treatment is aimed at inducing remission. A semi-vegetarian diet has been shown to achieve a 100% remission rate at 1 year and 92% at 2 years. Plant-based diets are rich in phytochemicals that help reduce inflammation by modifying several inflammatory mechanisms.

A study of treatment with infliximab and a plant-based diet showed a remission rate of 96%, substantial reduction in CRP and CDAI and improvements in mucosa healing. This study shows that combining infliximab with a plant-based diet results in a strong clinical response.

Plant-based diets promote a more favorable gut microbial profile that is anti-inflammatory. Naturally occurring substances in plant foods, having anti-inflammatory bowel actions include phytochemicals, antioxidants, dietary fibers, and lipids. Many of these natural products exert their beneficial action by altering cytokine production.

The plant-based diet has no adverse reactions or contra-indications and is affordable, so physicians can initiate therapy with a plant-based diet immediately, and prescribe it as a prophylaxis for all patients at risk of Crohn’s disease. Continue reading

Rheumatoid Arthritis: Prevention and Treatment with a Plant-Based Diet

This article was published on Oct 5, 2018, in the peer-reviewed Orthopedics and Rheumatology Open Access Journal.

Abstract

Rheumatoid arthritis has no cure, so long term treatment is indicated. An individual’s dietary choices greatly influence the progression of chronic autoimmune rheumatic diseases. This review shows that the plant-based diet has good scientific evidence of safety and efficacy for both prevention and treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Studies have shown significant improvements in specific symptoms, such as number of tender joints, Ritchie’s articular index, number of swollen joints, pain score, duration of morning stiffness, grip strength, and improved laboratory values such as sed rate (ESR), C-reactive protein, and rheumatic factor. Patients placed on a plant-based diet also have a beneficial shift in intestinal microbiota, which correlates with clinical improvement. With respect to prevention, those following a plant-based diet experience a reduction in risk of rheumatoid arthritis by about 50%.

RA patients should be advised that a plant-based diet that includes appropriate amounts of carbohydrate, especially dietary fiber, is important for maintaining the symbiosis of intestinal flora, which could be beneficial for preventing autoimmunity. As disease severity worsens, individuals with RA may experience functional decline that can impact dietary intake. New healthy plant-based convenience foods are a good choice for such patients.

 Treatment with a plant-based diet is affordable for the patient, has no adverse reactions and no contraindications, and it can be combined with any of the standard treatments. For mild cases it may suffice as a monotherapy. For moderate and severe cases, it may serve as an adjunct, allowing dosage reductions thus lessening the costs and side effects.

See Dr Chan Hwang, Physical Medicine and Rehab, talk about the treatment of Crohn’s Disease and Rheumatoid Arthritis with a plant-based diet:

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Vegetarian and Vegan Diets during Pregnancy

Both vegetarian and vegan diets are safe and can meet nutrient requirements with the supplementation of vitamin B12.[i]  According to the Vegetarian Position statement of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly known as the American Dietetic Association) “Well-designed vegetarian diets, that may include fortified foods or supplements, meet current nutrient recommendations and are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence.”[ii]

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Thermal Burn Treatment – vegetarian diet just as good as meat-centered

About 450,000 burns in the US every year require medical attention, with about 40,000 requiring hospitalization.[i] A large body of evidence demonstrates the essential role of nutrition in wound healing. Without adequate nutrition, healing may be impaired and prolonged.[ii] Wound healing is the complex process of replacing injured tissue with new tissue produced by the body, which demands an increased consumption of energy and specific nutrients, particularly protein and calories.[iii] [iv]

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Cholelithiasis – prevention through a plant-based diet

The prevalence of cholelithiasis is about 10 percent to 15 percent of the population of the U.S., or well over 25 million people. Nearly 1 million new cases of gallstone disease are diagnosed every year and approximately one quarter of these require treatment. The burden of cholelithiasis and its complications, such as cholecystitis, pancreatitis, and cholangitis, are major public health problems. A 2006 study reported that more than 700,000 cholecystectomies were performed in the United States at a cost of $6.5 billion dollars annually.[i]

Most patients are asymptomatic, but approximately 20% become symptomatic after 10 years of follow up.[ii] A study of both symptomatic and asymptomatic sonographically-confirmed cholelithiasis cases, found that the prevalence of gallstones was 1.9 time higher in non-vegetarians than in vegetarians.[iii]

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The Superiority of Vegan Diets

A recent European study confirmed the superiority of plant-based or vegan diets. This study used several different indexing systems to rate the healthfulness of a wide spectrum of diets, from vegan to vegetarian, semivegetarian, pesco-vegetarian and omnivorous and concluded that, “the use of indexing systems, estimating the overall diet quality based on different aspects of healthful dietary models  indicated consistently the vegan diet as the most healthy one.”  The study goes on to say that, “the vegan diet received the highest index values and the omnivorous the lowest. Typical aspects of a vegan diet (high fruit and vegetable intake, low sodium intake, and low intake of saturated fat) contributed substantially to the total score, independent of the indexing system used.[i]

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Diverticular Disease risk reduction through diet

By age 60, two-thirds of all Americans will have developed diverticulosis.[i]  Twenty-five percent of patients with diverticulosis will go on to develop acute diverticulitis. This imposes a significant burden on healthcare systems, resulting in greater than 300,000 admissions per year with an estimated annual cost of $3 billion.[ii]

Back in 1979, a research article in the British journal, the Lancet, reported that the prevalence of diverticular disease in vegetarians was almost one third that of meat eaters. It was noted in this study that vegetarians had a mean intake of fiber of 42gm/day vs. 21 gm/day for meat eaters.[iii]

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