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New study makes clear connection between diet change and common diseases: 'Cause-and-effect relationships'

The evidence continues to mount.

The evidence continues to mount.

Photo Credit: iStock

Score another win for plants helping human beings live healthier.

A recent meta-analysis, which examines several previous studies on the same topic to uncover trends, found that substituting animal-based products — especially processed meats — for plant-based alternatives can have significant heart and metabolic benefits.

The research team focused on the "cause-and-effect relationships" of substituting animal products for plant products to see how this affected heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and premature death. "[We] looked at studies that viewed changes in blood work before and after [the substitutions]," said Kelly Jones, a sports and fitness dietitian, to Health.

These observations coincide with a recent study from the journal Diabetes & Metabolism, which showed that plant-based diets can also improve kidney and liver function by reducing inflammation in the body. A study from Stanford supported those findings while also noting that such a diet can "increase gut bacteria and even slow aging in the body," per the study's leader.

There is increasing evidence that plant-based diets are good for your health, but plant-based alternatives are also beneficial for the environment. 

Reducing food consumption from factory farming will help the environment in the long run because this farming is heavily dependent on fossil fuels. If we consistently swap out meat and dairy for plant-based alternatives over the coming years, planet-warming air pollution can be reduced by over 30%. 

Your most important dietary takeaway is balance. This new data shows the benefits of adding plant-based options into your diet, but clean, animal-based proteins have their own unique benefits. For instance, pasture-raised eggs are a great source of choline, a nutrient powerhouse that can reduce cholesterol and boost memory.

If all the talk of plants' health benefits makes you hungry and excited, consider tapping into that by growing a garden. Not only will you have more control over what you eat, but using organic fertilizer to grow your food can also save 300 pounds of pollution over 10 years. 

If you like to get hands-on, digging a ditch like a swale can save the hassle of expensive solutions for collecting rainwater.

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