Researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, published a study in the journal Arthritis Research and Therapy showing that eating a vegan, gluten-free diet may reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes in rheumatoid arthritis patients, as well as reducing the severity of the disease.
Rheumatoid arthritis is considered a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
The researchers studied 66 adults with rheumatoid arthritis, averaging 50 years in age. Thirty-eight of the adults were placed on a vegan, gluten-free diet in which carbohydrates provided 60 percent of daily calories, fat provided 30 percent and protein provided 10 percent.
A vegan diet is one free of any animal products, including flesh, dairy and eggs. In addition to omitting animal products, the study participants also eschewed gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, oats and rye.
Instead, participants in the vegan, gluten-free group began with a one-day, low-energy diet of berry juice and broth. Starting on the second day, they were fed grains such as buckwheat, corn, millet and rice, as well as ample quantities of nuts, sunflower seeds, vegetables and fruits. Calcium was provided with a daily serving of sesame milk.
The 28 participants in the control group were fed a diet including both animal products and gluten with a similar carbohydrate-fat-protein breakdown to the vegan diet. They were encouraged to eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day and to eat complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains and potatoes, over simpler sources.
In both diets, saturated fat was kept to a maximum of 10 percent of daily energy intake.
After three and 12 months, the researchers measured several biomarkers in all the participants. Only 58 percent of the people in the vegan, gluten-free group completed the study.
The researchers found that participants in the vegan group experienced a drop in their body mass index, total cholesterol and LDL ("bad") cholesterol. Triglyceride and HDL ("good") cholesterol levels did not change. There was also an increase in the levels of antiPC antibodies, which are believed to help protect the body against cardiovascular disease.
None of these markers changed in the control group.
Sounds great, im a lacto-ova vegetarian, and i cut out animal meat about 13 years ago. I was ok for the first 5 or 6 years, but then i developed a serious weight problem. I think psychologically you need to be in the right frame of mind to commit to such a life change. I am still a lacto-ovo-vegetarian and i haven't eaten meat, gelatine or anything containing animal in 13 years. To look at me, you most certainly would not think healthy. My cholesterol is good and i don't have high blood pressure but its almost as if because my body is missing out it makes up for it elsewhere.
The research is mostly pointing to dairy/cheese being as detrimental if not more detrimental to health as meat. It's still full of saturated animal fat, natural growth hormones and devoid of many essential vitamins, minerals and fibre.
Some researchers suggest , from a health perspective, you'd be better of eating free range organic greens fed chicken than cheese.
According to the Oxford / Euro Epic study health benefits don't really kick in until you reach 8 portions of fruit and veg a day