A phytochemical rich diet influences chronic disease outcomes and duration of life

Researchers from Loma Linda University (California, USA), and colleagues examined death rates in a group of 73,308 men and women participating in the Adventist Health Study 2. The participants were divided into five groups: 1) non-vegetarian, 2) semi-vegetarian, 3) pesco-vegetarian (consuming seafood, but not meat), 4) lacto-ovo-vegetarian (consuming dairy and eggs), and 5) vegan (no animal products). After 6 years of following these subjects the data demonstrated  “significant associations with vegetarian diet… for reduced cardiovascular mortality, noncardiovascular noncancer mortality, renal mortality, and endocrine mortality.” Moreover, the researchers concluded "Vegetarian diets are associated with lower all-cause mortality and with some reductions in cause-specific mortality. Results appeared to be more robust in males. These favorable associations should be considered carefully by those offering dietary guidance.”

But the conclusion should not be drawn that meat is detrimental. At a recent conference, the International Congress on Vegetarian Nutrition at Loma Linda University, David Jacobs, PhD, Mayo Professor in epidemiology at the U Minnesota said “it seems the presence of more phytochemical-rich plant foods rather than the complete absence of animal foods is what makes a vegetarian diet so successful.” He went on to say “In general, plant-centered and vegetarian diets have more favorable chronic disease outcomes. This is one of the most consistent findings of nutritional epidemiology ”

Michael J. Orlich, Pramil N Singh, Joan Sabate, Karen Jaceldo-Siegl, Jing Fan, Synnove Knutsen, W. Lawrence Beeson, Gary E. Fraser. ” Vegetarian Dietary Patterns and Mortality in Adventist Health Study 2 .”  JAMA Intern Med., June 3, 2013.