Physicians Should Advise Patients to Eat Less Meat and More Vegetables to Prevent Chronic Illness

According to an examination of global dietary guidelines, encouraging people to eat more fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains is one of the most important things that can be done to prevent and treat chronic diseases.

A meta-epidemiological study conducted by the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) and recently published in the medical journal Advances in Nutrition suggests that medical professionals should feel confident in recommending plant-based foods such as fruit, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains for the management and prevention of major chronic diseases. The findings of this study were recently published.

The research examined 78 clinical practice guidelines that were published in North America, Europe, and Asia between the years of 2010 and 2021 and found that their recommendations for encouraging daily consumption of plant-based foods while limiting consumption of alcohol, salt, sodium, red meat, and processed meat were highly congruent with one another.

Which dietary groups are more beneficial to one’s health?

The researchers found that the clinical practice recommendations suggested incorporating or increasing the intake of vegetables the most out of any food group when they analyzed the specific food groups. This percentage was nearly three quarters, which was the greatest percentage of any food category.

There was no recommendation in any of the guidelines to exclude or reduce the amount of veggies. In addition to veggies, the group of foods that was recommended the most frequently was fruit (69 percent), followed by whole grains (58 percent), and then legumes (47 percent).

After red meat (with 32 percent), processed meat (with 27 percent), and refined grains (with 19 percent), the dietary groups that were recommended to limit or reduce consumption of the most frequently were processed meat, red meat, and refined grains.

Sixty-two percent of the guidelines suggested eliminating, reducing, or capping the amount of alcohol in the diet, while fifty-six percent of the guidelines suggested doing the same with salt or sodium. The nutritional components that were recommended the most frequently were vegetable oils (35 percent), followed by soy protein (18 percent).

Micaela Karlsen, PhD, MSPH, ACLM, Senior Director of Research and senior study author, said in a statement that these findings demonstrate that global dietary and nutrition guidelines support and are aligned with ACLM’s recommendation that, for the treatment, reversal, and prevention of lifestyle-related chronic disease, the optimal eating plan is predominantly based on a variety of minimally processed vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.

Diet and the risk of developing chronic diseases

Clinical practice guidelines were developed by governments, major medical professional societies, and large health stakeholder associations for the purpose of improving the health of adults who suffer from chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, digestive diseases, weight-related conditions, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). These guidelines were reviewed for this study. The recommendations for macronutrients and micronutrients were of secondary relevance in the study, while the primary focus of the investigation was on dietary patterns, food groupings, and food components.

For the purpose of the study, the researchers concentrated on main guidelines because that is what physicians typically rely on in their day-to-day work. Beth Frates, MD, Clinical Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School and President of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM), stated in a statement that “clinicians depend on clinical practice guidelines developed from the most current and rigorous medical research to help steer their diagnoses, treatment, and management of common chronic diseases.”

“The results of this comprehensive review of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines are important because they can benefit both clinicians and their patients by reducing the variability in dietary and nutrition guidance that often prevents clinicians from providing optimal care,” said Frates. “The reason why these findings are important is because they can benefit both clinicians and their patients by reducing the variability in dietary and nutrition guidance.”

The reason why proper diet is very essential

According to the findings of this study, the Global Burden of Disease Study has shown that bad diets are responsible for more deaths around the world than any other risk factor, including smoking cigarettes. According to the authors’ knowledge, this was the first study to examine the dietary advice found in three major chronic illness clinical practice guidelines.

The researchers from ACLM believe that the findings of the study are significant since patients have reported feeling confused as a result of inconsistent dietary messaging, particularly that which may be found online. And it is important to note that physicians, whose expertise is frequently sought by patients, frequently receive insufficient nutrition education in medical school to feel confident providing dietary guidance to patients for the treatment of chronic disease. Patients seek the expertise of physicians because they are frequently sought by patients.

Kelly C. Cara, MS, a doctoral student at Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and the study’s first author, said in a statement that “the growing prevalence of overweight [individuals] and obesity and the associated chronic conditions are a serious public health threat that must be urgently addressed.”

Cara explained, “Patients look to healthcare experts for nutritional counseling; hence, it is essential for physicians to be fully informed and confident when making suggestions to patients in order to achieve the greatest outcomes.” We have high hopes that the findings of this study will be of assistance to medical professionals in building the foundation of knowledge required to accomplish such aims.

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