Meet the wonderful Dr Ellesworth Wareham, 101 going on 80, whose diet has been entirely plant-based for more than fifty years, and only retired from his job as a cardiothoracic surgeon at the age of 95. Here he is being interviewed last year.
Dr Wareham made a brief but memorable appearance just last week in the BBC’s new series How To Stay Young. If you haven’t the time to watch the whole of this episode, fast forward to about 23.30 in, for a few enjoyable minutes with this delightful man. He could scarcely be a better advertisement for the plant-based diet. I guess he could well hold the record for eating this way for the longest in the world.
How To Stay Young told me something I didn’t know, maybe you did? Meat contains a hormone that stimulates growth in the young, but later in life accelerates ageing.
Dr Wareham, a Seventh-Day Adventist, was filmed at his home in Loma Linda, California. And Loma Linda happens to be home to the largest concentration of Seventh-Day Adventists in the world. The people there, who include large numbers of vegetarians and vegans, have been part of the biggest study of diet and health that has ever been done.
The first study, conducted from 1976 to 1988, examined 34,000 Adventists in California, and established “firm connections between lifestyle, disease and longevity. We learned that California Adventists live years longer than non-Adventist Californians: 7.3 years longer for men, 4.4 years for women.”
We discovered that five simple behaviors can increase lifespan by about two years each, for a total of 10 years: eating a plant-based diet, never smoking, consuming nuts several times per week, exercising regularly and maintaining a normal weight.
A second and much larger study involving 100,000 subjects, focuses specifically on cancer. The initial findings once again demonstrate the health advantages of a plant-based diet:
“Adventist males in California appear to have a 40 percent reduction in cancer risk; for women the reduction is about 25 percent. While few Adventists smoke, much of this risk reduction appears to be related to factors other than tobacco. Here are some of the things that we know. Consuming meat appears in many cases to increase the risk of commonly occurring cancers. On the other hand, eating fruits, tomatoes, and legumes (including soy) appears to be protective. Even in less common cancers that are better known for being related to smoking and alcohol, diet may play a significant role in reducing risk.”
Lots more interesting stuff about the findings here.
Now meet another high-profile doctor, the outgoing President of the American College of Cardiology, Dr Kim Williams MD . He went vegan in 2003 and never looked back. He talks about the diet’s power to heal and how being the ACC’s first vegan leader played out.
Vegan Diet: It’s Powerful Medicine – Dr Williams
Answering a question about a 2006 study, he says, “One of the more dangerous things about the vegan diet–and it’s happened to me–is that I encourage a patient with high blood pressure to adopt a vegetarian diet and they do, but they forget their home blood-pressure monitoring. Next thing you know they are in some emergency room with a [very low] blood pressure of 80 over 50 because they are still taking medication that I gave them for a disease they don’t have anymore.“
Q: The diet works that well?
“It’s very powerful. If people just understood how you could make hypertension disappear in weeks to months by changing the diet, in a large number of people, they’d find it pretty amazing.”
And for more on how the vegan diet improves health, read here
Well, if I weren’t vegan already, I wouldn’t need any more convincing. These two men, both of whom rank high in U.S medicine, provide ample evidence in their work, and in Dr Wareham’s case his own life, that a plant-based diet gives you extra years to enjoy life in better health. Bon appétit!