How a plant-based diet can reduce hypertension and prevent stroke

MEATLESS BUT MORE NUTRITIOUS Malunggay soup (with tomatoes, onions, organic vegan bouillon cubes and Himalayan salt), string beans (with shiitake mushrooms, okra, eggplant, Braggs tomato sauce) and oil-less fried, non-GMO soy wheat stick (with seaweeds). Safe proteins were found to be from plants.
What do five of the 10 leading causes of illness and death in the Philippines have in common? Coronary heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and atherosclerosis are all associated with our diets.

In particular, stroke, a disease of the vascular system, has strong links to what we eat.
Experts say that nutrients found in plants are associated with a lower risk of cognitive decline in old age, and that food sourced from plants is one of our best natural allies to help prevent stroke.

Scientist T. Colin Campbell, PhD, coauthor of “The China Study,” cited a publication from the well-known Framingham Study which had researchers concluding that for every three additional servings of fruits and vegetables a day, the risk of stroke could be reduced by 22 percent. This was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Jama) titled “Protective effect of fruits and vegetables on development of stroke in men” by Gilman M.W., Cupples L.A., Gagnon D., et al.

“Three servings of fruits and vegetables is less than you might think. The following examples count as one serving in this study: 1/2 cup peaches, 1/4 cup tomato sauce, 1/2 cup broccoli, or one potato,” said Campbell, who is a vegan, when he was interviewed by Inquirer Science and Health a few years ago.

Campbell said: “Half a cup is not much. In fact, the men in this study who consumed the most fruits and vegetables consumed as many as 19 servings a day. If every three servings lower the risk by 22 percent, the benefits can add up fast (risk reduction approaches but cannot exceed 100 percent).”

Campbell noted that this study provides evidence that the health of the arteries and vessels that transport blood to and from your brain is dependent on how well you eat. By extension, it is logical to assume that eating fruits and vegetables will protect against dementia caused by poor vascular health.

Effective vs hypertension
Vegetarian diets also reduce the risk of hypertension, according to new research published recently in the Jama Internal Medicine by physicians committee president Neal Barnard, MD, and researcher Yoko Yokoyama, PhD, MPH. The meta-analysis compared blood pressure from more than 21,000 people around the world and found study participants who followed a vegetarian diet had a systolic blood pressure about 7 mm Hg lower and diastolic blood pressure 5 mm Hg lower than study participants who consumed an omnivorous diet. The study was also published in the health website Fit Fathers.

“Instead of readjusting the definition for hypertension, as was done in the recent guideline revision, let’s write prescriptions for plant-based foods,” Barnard said. “Compared to antihypertensive drugs, a diet change brings only desirable ‘side effects,’ including healthy weight loss and improved cholesterol, along with the lower blood pressure.”
The Jama meta-analysis report also pointed out that:

Obesity, sodium and alcohol consumption increase blood pressure and risk for hypertension.
Potassium intake and physical activity correlate directly with lower blood pressure.
Unsaturated fat, protein, magnesium and dietary fiber may reduce risk for hypertension.
Hypertensive study participants who combine antihypertensive medications with a plant-based diet lower blood pressure by an average of 5/2 mm Hg in just six weeks.

A 2013 study from the American Journal of Medicine (T. Akbaraly, S. Sabia, G. Hagger-Johnson, et al.) indicated that eating more meat, dairy and other unhealthful foods could worsen the effects of aging.

After an average 16-year followup, people who consumed a “Western-type” diet, which consists of high intakes of red and processed meats, whole dairy products, and fried foods, were more likely to die prematurely and to suffer from various chronic diseases including heart disease, stroke, cancer and mental health disorders, compared with people who avoided such dietary patterns.

Ramen risks: Why instant noodles are bad for your health

Instant ramen noodles bad for health: study

A new study suggests instant noodles may increase the risk for heart disease and stroke. (Dominik Schwind / Flickr)

Marlene Leung, 
Published Tuesday, August 19, 2014 10:40AM EDT 

Instant noodles have long been a popular meal option, loved for their convenience and low cost. But a new study suggests they may increase the risk for heart disease and stroke. And the study has sparked renewed interest in an eye-opening video that shows how our stomachs handle processed foods.
The study, published last week in The Journal of Nutrition, was based off of data from the Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2007-2009.
Using the survey data, researchers examined the diets of a total of 10,711 adults between the ages of 19-64.
They found that consumption of instant noodles two or more times a week was associated with a higher prevalence of metabolic syndrome in women but not in men. Metabolic syndrome is set of conditions – including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess abdominal fat and abnormal cholesterol -- which combined increase the risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
The study's lead investigator, Dr. Hyun Joon Shin, said the observed differences between the women and men in the study are likely attributable to biological differences between the sexes, including sex hormones and metabolism.
Shin also said that a chemical found in the instant noodle packaging may be another factor affecting the gender difference.
A chemical called bisphenol A (BPA) is commonly found in the Styrofoam containers used to hold some brands of instant noodles. Studies have shown that BPA can interfere with the body's hormones, particularly the female sex hormone estrogen, Shin said in a statement.
Shin, who is a clinical cardiology fellow at Texas' Baylor University Medical Center, said the results of the study highlight the importance of understanding the impact of what types of foods and substances we put into our bodies.
"This research is significant since many people are consuming instant noodles without knowing possible health risks," he said in the statement. "My hope is that this study can lay a foundation for future research about the health effects of instant noodle consumption."
This isn't the first time the ingredients found in instant noodles have come under scrutiny.
A stomach-churning 2011 video showed for the first time how our bodies differently digest instant noodles compared to homemade noodles. 
Using tiny cameras that can be ingested, participants in a small trial ate processed instant noodles and homemade noodles. They then swallowed the camera, which transmitted video footage from inside their gastrointestinal tract.
Video footage from inside the digestive tract showed stark differences.
The digestive tracts are seen contracting and convulsing to break down the noodles. More than two hours after consumption, the instant noodles aren’t broken down, and their shape and colour are still largely recognizable. By comparison, the homemade noodles are nearly completely broken down.