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A whole foods, plant-based diet may significantly improve secondary hyperlipidemia, according to a clinical study published by Clinical Nutrition ESPEN. Researchers conducted a multi-year study and found a direct correlation between lipid levels and diet, concluding that further trials should focus on helping patients adopt and maintain whole food and vegan diet.

The study focused specifically on retinoid-induced hyperlipidemia. Retinoids are a commonly prescribed medication to treat an array of dermatological conditions such as severe acne, psoriasis, eczema, and wrinkles. Hyperlipidemia, the occurrence of abnormally high lipid levels in the blood, is a common side effect of retinoids. If left untreated, hyperlipidemia can elevate the risk of cardiovascular disease. Doctors typically combat this condition with additional medication, such as statins and fibrates.

This new, diet-based study breaks the cycle of medication by replacing medicine with food. Researchers documented a thirty-five-year-old male with secondary retinoid-induced hyperlipidemia as he followed the prescribed diet plans. The summary claims the patient, responded “dramatically” to a whole-food, plant-based diet (WFPB).”

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After the patient was first introduced to a WFPB diet, his lipid levels dropped. When he discontinued the diet and re-integrated chicken, fish, low-fat dairy, his hyperlipidemia returned, despite alterations to his lipid-treating medication. The patient was then asked to adopt a WFPB diet once again, and researchers documented another sharp decline in lipid levels. Researchers also found that the patient’s exercise capacity improved.

The study concluded that a WFPB may have a positive effect on reducing hyperlipidemia, without the support of additional medication. Researchers stated, “Future interventions should focus on ways to help patients successfully adopt and maintain a WFPB diet, as increased adherence to a healthy lifestyle is associated with greater health benefits.”

Clinical researchers are beginning to experiment with the WFPB to treat a myriad of chronic and life-threatening diseases. Weight loss, diabetes prevention, and supplemental breast cancer treatment have all seen positive results with patients who adhere to this lifestyle. Organizations such as the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies are leading the charge to provide support, staff, and funds for additional plant-based, diet-focused studies.


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