Vegfest UK 2017 is well underway, and yesterday kicked off the with the first ever fully vegan trade show. Aside from the overwhelming number of vegan cheeses to try, the day was full of speeches and panels from some of the most interesting vegans in the world.
Among them was Milton Mills MD, discussing the benefits of a plant-based diet in preventative medicine. After gaining his medical degree at Stanford University, Dr. Mills’ career has gone from strength to strength and he is currently a member of the National Advisory Board, for Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.
In his speech, Mills covered many problems concerning the current medical system, and the way it follows the ‘Disease Model’; focussing on easing the symptoms of or curing diseases rather than preventing them. When people speak about prevention in current medicine, says Mills, they are really referring to early detection.
Why Should We Care About What We Eat?
As a way of encouraging people to think about the food they are putting in their mouths, and how this might affect their bodies Dr. Mills pointed out that food is nothing but a whole load of chemicals that just so happen to taste good.
Addressing the audience, Mill said that if someone asked you to drink a bottle of clear liquid your first question would be ‘what is it?’. Why do we not do the same with food?
How do Animal Products Affect DNA?
Following on from this, Mills talked about the links between animal products and some of the major diseases responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands of people in the UK alone each year.
Many people assume that family history plays a larger role in the destiny of your health than your lifestyle does, but according to research, this isn’t the case. What is true, said Milton, is that the damage to your genetic makeup caused by eating a poor diet can be transferred to your children.
According to Dr. Mills, animal products stimulate the histone proteins that surround your DNA which in turn can cause cancer.
How Can a Vegan Diet Help?
However, there is hope as it’s predicted that vegan diets and better lifestyles could prevent up to 80% of deaths in the west. Furthermore, Mills claims that a plant-based diet can actually positively impact an individual’s genetic make-up.
According to studies, plant foods, especially fruit and vegetables, can effectively turn off the cancer-promoting genes and turn on genes that promote health and longevity. In addition to this, plant-based diets can help damaged DNA to repair itself.
Using a short video report created by Dr. Greger to illustrate his point, Mills discussed the ways in which phytonutrients, which fruit and vegetables are rich in, regulate gene expression. This increases the defenses around a cell, which leads to the cell being able to recover from DNA damage. Without this process, these damaged cells could lead to cancer.
Additionally, telomeres which are described as ‘DNA-protein structures that form protective caps at the end of eukaryotic chromosomes’ have been linked to longevity; the longer your telomere, the longer you will live. Studies have shown that reducing your saturated fat intake, and consuming fruit and vegetables (important due to their high vitamin and fiber content) can lengthen your telomere and will likely lead you to live longer.
New research is continually coming to light, highlighting the importance of diet in maintaining good health. The revelation that we can, in fact, alter our DNA for the better with is further good news and Dr. Mills important work may encourage people to prevent diseases rather than waiting for them to occur and treating them.
Image credit: What the Health