The prevalence of cardiovascular disease is increasing globally, especially among the older generations. Diet and lifestyle, precisely plant-based diets can be used as useful tools for the prevention and management of heart disease (McMacken and Sapana 342). A plant-based diet is gaining recognition as a healthier substitute for a diet that is mainly composed of meat and other animal products. In the U.S. atherosclerosis, a condition associated with high consumption of meat, carbohydrates, and fat is the leading cause of death (Tuso and William 63). The condition leads to continuous damage of endothelial cells covering the vascular system and the heart resulting in endothelial dysfunction (Satija et al. 412). The plant-based diet involves eating patterns that emphasize whole grains, legumes, fruits, nuts, vegetables, and discourages animal products. A condition like endothelial dysfunction is associated with genetic factors, however, other factors escalate the illness especially lifestyle and dietary factors like high intake of fat and meat, tobacco use and oxidative stress (Tuso and William 65). Plant-based diet plays a crucial role in preventing and reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Individuals who include plant nutrients in their diet have reported few or no cases of cardiovascular disorders (Stewart, Gavin, and Peter 56). Additionally, research conducted to determine the onset of cardiac diseases revealed that the conditions starts at an early age of twenty years and those who eat excess meat are more vulnerable to the diseases compared to the vegans. An autopsy study in 1999 conducted on youth Americans between the age of 17 to 34 years who died as result of accidents, homicides, and suicides revealed that CAD (coronary artery disease) is ubiquitous at this age (Esselstyn 317). At this age, the disease is at a stage where coronary events cannot manifest themselves, but there are some signals that the condition will affect the victim in the future. A similar report from postmortem analysis of American combat casualties who had participated in the Korean War. The report revealed that about 80% of the casualties had early signs of CAD at an average of 20 years (Esselstyn 317). The studies mentioned above have shown the foundation of CAD is established before one completes high school education especially among those who prefer animal-based diet.
The notion of plant-based diet on reducing cardiovascular illnesses has saved many countries on health expenses. Over the many years, nations have invested a lot of financial resources in the cardiac healthcare industry to deal with these diseases since most of the medications such as angiotensin receptor blockers, cholesterol-lowering drugs, beta-blocker and aspirin are very costly (Esselstyn 317). Whereas, the U.S. is investing heftily on cardiovascular disease (CVD), the condition exists in less than half of the planet. Regions such as rural China, the Papua Highlands of New Guinea, Northern Mexico, and Central Africa hardly report few or no cases of CVD. The citizens therefore report good health status. In China, people are hardly affected by the CVD because they have embraced on plant-based nutrition, whole food with minimal intake of meat and other animal products.
In comparing the two types of diets, that is, plant-based and animal-based, the latter shows increased cases of cardiovascular conditions since plant based is cardio protective. Countries like the U.S for example, most of their diet consists of added oils, meat and dairy products, which interfere with the endothelial function after their ingestion, making these foods one of the major, if not the leading cause of CAD. The implication is that the components found in meat and other animal products are the main cause of the CVD. Metabolism of carnitine and lecithin found in meat, fish, eggs, shellfish, liver, milk and dairy product in the intestinal micro biota of omnivores produces trimethylamine oxide (TMAO), which leads to damage of the cardiovascular system hence cardiovascular disease (Tuso, Scott, and William 65). On the contrary, individuals who strictly eat plant products do not produce TMAO. Vegans have no risk since no trimethylamine is produced therefore, they are cardio-protected. .
Plant based diet promotes the development of the Vascular Endothelial cell (VEC) which plays a crucial role in the prevention of CAD. The major causes of VEC injury include high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and diabetes. In this regard, lifestyle management especially one's diet is likely to prevent high blood pressure and diabetes. Hence, observing plant-based diet avert CAD events and eventually reduces death resulting from the disease. Healthy diet strategy of becoming a vegetarian will minimize CAD deaths by reversing or interrupting the atherogenesis process (Mann 419). This is because plant products do not lead to the formation of atheromas in the inner lining of the arteries. Moreover, plant-based diets reduce the risk related to atherothrombotic CAD and prevent atherogenesis inflammatory process due to decreased intake of components found in added sugars, processed foods, meats and oils (Tuso and William 64). Increased consumption of bioactive components found in plant products lead to the protection of endothelium and inhibition of atherogenesis process.
People should adopt healthy eating habits such as plant-based diet to prevent CVD epidemic in the U.S. Eating a low-fat diet with no added oil and good stress management reduces the prevalence of the diseases. For example, after Germany confiscated Norway's livestock during WWII, cardiac illness reduced by a great percentage because people were forced to rely on plant food as their only source of nourishment. The result observed during this period confirms the importance of plant-based diet as a strategy of CVD prevention. Moreover, Finland had reported increased cases of heart disease in 1970s in the world (Esselstyn 318). Health professionals and local officials became aggressive on educating the public on ways of reducing blood pressure, cholesterol levels, intake of animal products and stopping or quitting smoking. The population in the country decreased their consumption of dietary saturated fat and increased consumption of vegetable, and reduced smoking from 52% to 32%. The results were excellent because the CAD disease rate decreased by 85% within the next 30 years (Esselstyn 318).
Trainings should be introduced and practitioners should be taught on how effective plant-based diet can be in the prevention and management of CVD because it is a cheap intervention. Cardiologists should embrace continuous medical education to enhance their knowledge on nutritional requirements of their patients who are suffering from heart diseases. The doctors should realize the importance of incorporating plant-based diet on their plan in the management of cardiovascular diseases. In this regard, plant-based nutrition involves consumption of whole foods that are rich in macronutrients (protein and carbohydrates), micronutrients (minerals and vitamins), and bioactive elements such as polyphenols and plant sterols that enhance body function (Lederman). "People should understand that it is mindful and conscious decision to maximize the health benefits per calorie while minimizing potential harmful exposures" (Tuso and William 66). A plant-based diet leads to low incidences of the CAD therefore low costs incurred on healthcare. It is crucial for the American people to understand the importance of changing from their Western diet and start consuming plant produces since it is a simple and cheap intervention of preventing CAD.
The primary objective of plant-based diet is to upsurge the consumption of nutrient-rich plant products and reduce intake of processed oils, foods, added sugar and animal products to reduce cardiovascular related mortality rates. Plant-based diet entails consumption of a lot of fruits and vegetables and minimum fat (Satija et al., 418). About 82% of the patients suffering from VAD, who follow plant-based diet program strictly reduce their chances of developing the condition again, 91% reduce the frequency of chest pain episodes, while 53% of the patients experience progression of atherosclerosis (Tuso, Scott, and William 65). Non-vegetarians are 24% more likely to die from cardiovascular disease compared to vegetarians. A plant-based diet is a proven method of averting and reversing cardiac diseases. Becoming a vegan or adopting vegetarian eating habits reduces the risk of heart failure by 42 % among folks who have no heart disease history (Lederman).
Plant-based diet improves cardiovascular conditions like chest pain (angina), and atherosclerosis, which is brought by arteries being narrowed or blocked due to accumulated cholesterol (Lederman 58). Additionally, a plant-based diet decreases the risk of heart attack in individuals who have ever been affected by the condition. Millions of people in America are living with or at risk of suffering from heart disease, hence it is crucial for all American citizens to adopt plant-based diets as this strategy will prevent future complications, bring healing or reverse cardiovascular disorders. Besides preventing cardiovascular diseases by plant-based diet, it essential to be a vegetarian because this diet reduces the risk of developing other related diseases such as diabetes. Nutritionist and health practitioners argue that, whatever is good for the heart is also healthy for the rest of the body. In addition to decreasing the risks and improving symptoms of heart disease and other conditions, becoming a vegan can assist one to lose weight, have energy and live healthy (Reddy and Katan 170).
Changing from animal-based products to plant-based diets is not easy but should be encouraged because of the benefits proven in reducing cardiovascular disorders. The person intending to change his or her diet should seek the assistance of registered nutritionist and other resources such as books, journals, websites and educational programs, which make the process easier due to the comprehensive knowledge of the effectiveness of plant-based diet. (Lederman 69). People who are well informed about the benefits of becoming vegans are likely to set their objective and follow their eating routine strictly without temptations of eating animal products. The rate or speed in which one changes to plant-based diet depends on one's health status, and support one is getting to help make the change. Patients suffering cardiac illnesses like heart attack should consult a qualified dietician who will assist them to change to plant-based diets Individuals who are at low risk of developing heart condition and do not have any other medical problems can gradually become vegetarians. They may start by replacing a single meal per day with a plant-based meal and progress slowly as the days continue. Switching a diet should be gradually and not abrupt. One may start by eating a plant-based diet and occasionally consuming animal products like dairy products and eventually he or she will adapt to vegan lifestyle. (Lederman 89). The process of switching to a plant-based diet should involve the support of loved ones or close friends in order to overcome obstacles and achieve the required results.
Lacto vegetarian lifestyle is another mode that can improve one's health and reduce incidence of cardiovascular disorders. Lacto vegetarian involves eating plant products, lean meat, cheese, and other dairy products. (Satija et al., 420). Vegan or lacto vegetarian diets are effective in promoting the health status of humans. However, it is essential to understand that plant-based diet can be unhealthy if it has too much saturated fat and calories, which are not essen...
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