MAR 26, 2015 1:30 PM PDT

Taking a Bite Out of the High Protein Diet

WRITTEN BY: Robert Woodard
Diets come and go, and the news is constantly filled with the findings and opinions about what is good for you and what is not. We've seen high-carb diets and low-carb diets, meat-cheese-egg diets, vegan diets, gluten-free diets.

It's hard to know what's good for you and what's not. What's the deal with cholesterol these days, anyway? Can I eat more eggs? Is bread OK? And please tell me that red meat isn't so bad after all.

Dr. Dean Ornish answers these questions in his article entitled the "Myth of High Protein Diets," which appeared in the 23 March 2015 edition of the New York Times.

According to Dr. Ornish, for years people have been making the case that we have grown fat because we eat too much starch and sugar, and not enough meat, fat and eggs. In fact, Dr. Ornish points out, the more fat, meat and sugar Americans eat, the unhealthier we become.

Here are some of the findings cited by Dr. Ornish to support this claim:

- Research shows that animal protein may significantly increase the risk of premature mortality from all causes, among them cardiovascular disease, cancer and Type 2 diabetes.

- Heavy consumption of saturated fat and trans fats may double the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

- Egg yolks and red meat appear to significantly increase the risk of coronary heart disease and cancer due to increased production of trimethylamine N-oxide, or TMAO.

- A recent study found that among heavy consumers of animal protein under the age of 65, who got 20 percent or more of their calories from animal protein, there was a 75 percent increase in premature deaths from all causes, and a 400 percent increase in deaths from cancer and Type 2 diabetes.

In contrast, eating a diet that is low in animal protein, animal fat and refined carbohydrates will make you healthier-and can even reverse some diseases.

Dr, Ornish and his colleagues at the Preventive Medicine Research Institute and the University of California, San Francisco have conducted clinical research into the benefits of adopting a whole-foods, plant-based diet, in combination with stress management techniques. Among other things, they found that these diet and lifestyle changes could:

- Reverse the progression of even severe coronary heart disease.
- Decrease episodes of chest pain by 91 percent after only a few weeks.
- Reduce cardiac events by 2.5 times after five years.
- Improve blood flow to the heart by over 300 percent.

His article also cites evidence that these changes may also slow, stop or even reverse the progression of early-stage prostate cancer and could actually turn on the genes that keep you healthy.

Dietary changes such as those recommended by Dr. Ornish might require some of us to give up eating things that we love. But, as Dr. Ornish concludes: "What you gain is so much more than what you give up."

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