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What diseases are 'diet-related'?

Updated: May 21, 2023



According to the British Heart Foundation (BHF) (1) in the UK in 2021 coronary heart disease (CHD) was the third largest cause of death after Covid-19 and Alzheimer’s/dementia, resulting in 65,644 deaths. Every day in the UK 180 people die from CHD and there are 260 hospital admissions due to heart attack. CHD was the leading cause of death worldwide in 2019, and in the UK it kills one in eight men and one in 14 women.


Currently it is well known in the scientific literature that cutting fat out of the diet results in atherosclerotic regression without any recourse to drugs or invasive procedures, but CHD patients are not even being told this by the NHS or the BHF, let alone being supported to change their diet in order to see their condition disappear. The UK government currently recommends 35% of total calories from fat and 11% from saturated fat: levels that are known to cause atherosclerotic progression and that will inevitably maintain CHD prevalence at the current rate within the population. Multi-infarct dementia, thromboembolic stroke and some forms of erectile dysfunction also result from the presence of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (CVD): the build up of fatty deposits within the arteries. Cutting fat out of the diet results in atherosclerotic regression and might well be considered a ‘cure’ for all forms of atherosclerotic CVD.


Atherosclerotic CVD is only one of many diseases known or thought to be dietary in origin. There is convincing evidence that major cancers such as breast, bowel and prostate are related to the consumption of the standard western diet. Common problems such as acne, insomnia and chronic constipation all improve on the low fat, high raw, plant-based diet. Inflammatory and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, asthma, eczema and psoriasis have all been anecdotally improved by following a diet high in anti-inflammatory phytonutrients and there is a solid scientific rationale for why this might be the case, although conclusive scientific evidence is lacking (because the necessary research has not yet been done). Better nutrition with a higher phytonutrient intake improves immune function and therefore resistance to both cancer and infectious diseases, and it has been suggested that following this type of diet plan will also protect against dementia. Many people who adopt a low fat, high raw plant-based diet also report a dramatic improvement in their mood, with the resolution of common mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. People with eating disorders report greater stability and women commonly report improvements in menstrual disturbances such as heavy or painful periods.


Fat deposition within skeletal muscle cells is also known to interfere with the mechanism of glucose uptake into cells in response to insulin secretion. This situation is known as insulin resistance and it results in type 2 diabetes (2). According to Diabetes UK (3) in 2019 there were 3.9 million people living with a diagnosis of diabetes, and 90% of those were type 2. In addition it is estimated that around a million people have type 2 diabetes and haven’t been diagnosed yet. 5.3 million people are expected to be living with this condition by 2025 and 5.5 million by 2030. People with diabetes are 50% more likely to die prematurely than those without diabetes, mainly from atherosclerotic CVD, and other complications include sight loss and leg, toe and foot amputations. The NHS spends at least £10 billion a year on diabetes, which is about 10% of its entire budget (4). Cutting fat out of the diet improves insulin sensitivity and along with weight loss might well be considered a ‘cure’ for type 2 diabetes.


Being overweight or obese can contribute up to 85% of a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes (5). Currently 66% of men and 57% of women in England are overweight or obese, and almost 10% of children aged 4 to 5 years old and 20% aged 10 to 11 are obese. The low fat, high raw, plant-based diet helps with weight loss and ongoing weight management for two main reasons: 1) it has a high nutrient density and a low caloric density, facilitating satiation, and 2) it is free from all the major addictive components of cooked and processed foods that override the body’s natural satiety signals.


More details about many of these conditions including references can be found in my forthcoming book Diseases Have Causes: One Doctor’s Journey with an Apple and a Pen. I believe that whether or not people are willing to adopt the low fat (<10% of total calories), high raw (>90% of total calories), plant-based diet or not, they have a right to know that such a diet is safe, practical and possible, and that doing so will most likely result in their diet-related chronic disease going away (6).


References:

  1. BRITISH HEART FOUNDATION, 2022. UK Factsheet [online]. Available from: https://www.bhf.org.uk/-/media/files/research/heart-statistics/bhf-cvd-statistics-uk-factsheet.pdf?rev=4b0be2cd03eb412f8f2703b63a3b4ebb&hash=E6965279D61DEA4CBD0C97E176CAA671 [Accessed 21 November 2022].

  2. N.B. For the same reason a low fat diet improves athletic performance by improving glucose delivery to the skeletal muscle cells.

  3. DIABETES UK, 2019. Number of people with diabetes reaches 4.8 million [online]. Available from: https://www.diabetes.org.uk/about_us/news/diabetes-prevalence-2019 [Accessed 21 November 2022].

  4. DIABETES UK, n.d.. Diabetes statistics [online]. Available from: https://www.diabetes.org.uk/professionals/position-statements-reports/statistics [Accessed 21 November 2022].

  5. DIABETES UK, Tackling the crisis: Transforming diabetes care for a better future [online]. Available from: https://www.diabetes.org.uk/resources-s3/2019-04/Diabetes%20UK%20Tackling%20the%20Crisis.pdf [Accessed 21 November 2022].

  6. N.B. Advanced cancer may be the exception to this rule. Although there are definitely anecdotal reports of people curing their cancer using diet, it would be irresponsible to suggest that this is always or even usually going to be the case. Evidence is currently lacking and more research is needed.

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