Low-Fat, Low-Salt, Whole-Food Vegan Diet

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Many autoimmune disorders – maladies such as rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, and multiple sclerosis – were quite rare among sub-Saharan Africans in the middle of the last century, and also appear to have been comparatively rare in certain quasi-vegan Asian societies at the time. Vegan diets also have been reported to have some clinical efficacy for blunting the severity of rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. This essay proposes that vegan diets may have the potential to increase the activity of immune cells known as T regulatory lymphocytes that help to prevent and control autoimmunity.

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Although whole-food vegan diets are notably health protective in many ways, some people who have tried vegan diets, even those informed enough to supplement with vitamin B12 (absent from vegan diets), claim that they gave up this attempt because they simply didn’t feel like they had robust health at the time. It is suggested that supplementation with physiologically cofactors found in flesh foods – cofactors which aren’t truly nutritionally essential because the body can make some of their own – might improve the health and vigor of some vegans. These cofactors – dubbed “carninutrients” – include carnitine, taurine, creatine, and carnosine (or beta-alanine). A clinical study evaluating this hypothesis is recommended.

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Vegan diets of moderate protein content, when practiced throughout life, have been linked to a markedly decreased risk for many cancers, as well as for autoimmune disorders, obesity, and diabetes. Such diets also typically lower blood levels of the hormone IGF-I, elevated levels of which may increase cancer risk. This essay proposes that the relatively low essential amino acid content of moderate-protein vegan diets activates the enzyme GCN2, which in turn promotes increased production of the protective hormone FGF21 by the liver. This increase in FGF21 may be responsible for the reduction in IGF-I production observed in vegans, and may work in other ways to lessen risk for obesity and diabetes. Activation of GCN2 within the immune cells of vegans may play a role in their lesser risk for autoimmunity.

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A whole-food plant-based diet, relatively low in fat and added salt, has tremendously versatile potential for health protection. This monograph sets forth the scientific evidence which suggests that this strategy can prevent or stop the progression of vascular disease; prevent and reverse obesity and type 2 diabetes; decrease risk for hypertension, stroke, and dementia; reduced risk for many types of cancer, while aiding control of some cancers; prevent and treat autoimmune disorders; aid preservation of bone density; reduce risk for prostate hyperplasia, gallstones, renal stones, diverticulitis, appendicitis, and more – all while minimizing waste of finite planetary resources and combatting global warming. Over 1200 pertinent scientific papers are cited.

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