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Stanford study maintains that plant-based diet lives up to its hype after testing with identical twins: 'A vegan diet is healthier'

Even small changes can make a difference to health.

Even small changes can make a difference to health.

Photo Credit: iStock

A study by Stanford Medicine has revealed compelling data about why a plant-based diet can be better for your health compared to regularly eating meat. 

According to Sci Tech Daily, the 2022 trial saw 22 pairs of identical twins take part, with one twin eating a vegan diet for eight weeks and the other adapting an omnivore diet during the same period. Both diets were healthy, featuring plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, while sugar and starch was avoided.

Of the 44 participants, only one person failed to complete the eight-week period — that twin was in the vegan group.

After just four weeks, the benefits of the plant-based diet were clear to see, with those shunning meat reporting lower insulin levels, reduced body weight, and lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) levels.

High levels of those three factors have been linked to poor cardiovascular health, while raised insulin readings increase the risk of diabetes.

These findings were discovered in participants with already healthy LDL-C levels, and the scientists predicted that greater improvements would be seen for those who already have high LDL-C readings.

This study didn't even take into account the benefits of a plant-based diet in terms of environmental health. According to research published in the Nature Food journal and summarized by the Guardian, a vegan diet produces 75% less planet-warming pollution compared to diets in which 100 grams of meat a day are consumed.

Meanwhile, that study also revealed that wildlife destruction is decreased by 66% with a vegan diet, while water use is reduced by 54%. 

As Stanford study leader Christopher Gardner — a Rehnborg Farquhar professor and a professor of medicine — noted, getting everyone to adapt to a vegan diet might be difficult despite the benefits. But even making plant-based meals more of a focus can significantly affect health.

Gardner added: "Not only did this study provide a groundbreaking way to assert that a vegan diet is healthier than the conventional omnivore diet, but the twins were also a riot to work with."

"A vegan diet can confer additional benefits such as increased gut bacteria and the reduction of telomere loss, which slows aging in the body," Gardner said. "What's more important than going strictly vegan is including more plant-based foods into your diet. Luckily, having fun with vegan multicultural foods like Indian masala, Asian stir-fry, and African lentil-based dishes can be a great first step."

As Gardner observed, even small changes can make a difference to health, and there are plenty of delicious options to fill the gap meat leaves behind.

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