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  1. All, Al Pater posted a study [1] that compared the effects on biomarkers of health for various types of vegetarian diets vs. omnivores in a group of Taiwanese men and women of all ages. The study divided subjects into four groups: vegan, lacto-vegetarians, ovo-lacto-vegetarians, and omnivores, as ascertained via a 26 element food frequency questionnaire, and explicit questions about how they self-classify their diet. They matched each of the 10,000 vegetarians in the study with five omnivores of the same age and sex. Here are the main findings comparing all the vegetarians as a group against the omnivores: With adjustment for age, sex, physical activities, alcohol consumption and education, vegetarians had significantly lower abnormalities [i.e. values in the unhealthy range as defined by health authorities - DP] in WC [Waist Circumference], BMI, SBP [systolic BP] DBP [Diastolic BP], FBG [Fasting Blood Glucose],TC [Total Cholesterol] and LDL as well as in TC:HDL ratios, with OR ranging from 0·37 to 0·90, but higher abnormality in HDL [i.e. low HDL] (OR ranged from 1·17 to 1·52), when compared with non-vegetarians cross-sectionally. <snip> Overall, we observed lower values for WC, BMI, SBP, DBP, FBG, TC, HDL and LDL, along with lower TC:HDL ratios, in vegetarians compared with non-vegetarians, which replicated the findings of previous Taiwanese studies(9,22,23). Except for [lower] HDL and [higher] TAG [triglycerides] values in lacto-ovo-vegetarians [only], the vegetarian diets showed significant beneficial effects on metabolic traits, which may be partly due to the lower BMI of vegetarians. <snip> With additional adjustment for BMI (Table 3), the beneficial effects for blood pressure and blood glucose were partly attenuated, whereas the effect on lipids remained consistent. <snip> Lacto-ovo-vegetarians appeared to eat more carbohydrates and fructose, which could be one of the main causes for TAG elevation in this group. <snip> Whether the lower HDL in vegetarians can be regarded as a risk factor may require further study, as vegetarians generally had better TC:HDL ratios. In addition, previous studies have found that low HDL due to reduced fat intake was not associated with poor cardiovascular health(25,26). Strangely, they apparently didn't ask the subject about smoking habits, and therefore didn't control for it. Here are the two main tables of results comparing the various types of vegetarians to the omnivores (click to enlarge): They also tried doing a longitudinal analysis of the data, but the results weren't too informative, and for most of the subjects (63%) they only had one (baseline) measurement. Most of the baseline differences remained significant and mostly improved for those people who remained vegetarians at follow-up visits. Comparing the various types of vegetarians vs. omnivores, it appears that lacto- and lacto-ovo-vegetarians had a slight advantage over vegans across most of the health markers when compared with omnivores, both before and after adjusting for BMI (see Tables 2 and 3 above). Besides the obvious difference between consumption of eggs and dairy, the biggest difference in the vegan food intakes relative to the other two vegetarian groups were they consumed less beans, less "sweet breads" and less fried vegetables. Perhaps a poorer B12 status or lower bean intake could explain the less advantageous health markers of the vegans vs. the other two types of vegetarians (but all three vegetarian types were better than omnivores). So overall, vegetarians of all types appeared to do better compared with omnivores in all of the commonly acknowledged biomarkers markers of health, except for lower HDL and higher triglycerides among the lacto-ovo-vegetarians. This is pretty much consistent with previous studies, such as the Epic Oxford and Seventh Day Adventists. --Dean --------- [1] Br J Nutr. 2015 Oct;114(8):1313-20. doi: 10.1017/S0007114515002937. Epub 2015 Sep 10. Cross-sectional and longitudinal comparisons of metabolic profiles between vegetarian and non-vegetarian subjects: a matched cohort study. Chiu YF(1), Hsu CC(1), Chiu TH(2), Lee CY(1), Liu TT(3), Tsao CK(3), Chuang SC(1), Hsiung CA(1). Several previous cross-sectional studies have shown that vegetarians have a better metabolic profile than non-vegetarians, suggesting that a vegetarian dietary pattern may help prevent chronic degenerative diseases. However, longitudinal studies on the impact of vegetarian diets on metabolic traits are scarce. We studied how several sub-types of vegetarian diets affect metabolic traits, including waist circumference, BMI, systolic blood pressure (SBP), diastolic blood pressure, fasting blood glucose, total cholesterol (TC), HDL, LDL, TAG and TC:HDL ratio, through both cross-sectional and longitudinal study designs. The study used the MJ Health Screening database, with data collected from 1994 to 2008 in Taiwan, which included 4415 lacto-ovo-vegetarians, 1855 lacto-vegetarians and 1913 vegans; each vegetarian was matched with five non-vegetarians based on age, sex and study site. In the longitudinal follow-up, each additional year of vegan diet lowered the risk of obesity by 7 % (95 % CI 0·88, 0·99), whereas each additional year of lacto-vegetarian diet lowered the risk of elevated SBP by 8 % (95 % CI 0·85, 0·99) and elevated glucose by 7 % (95 % CI 0·87, 0·99), and each additional year of ovo-lacto-vegetarian diet increased abnormal HDL by 7 % (95 % CI 1·03, 1·12), compared with non-vegetarians. In the cross-sectional comparisons, all sub-types of vegetarians had lower likelihoods of abnormalities compared with non-vegetarians on all metabolic traits (P<0·001 for all comparisons), except for HDL and TAG. The better metabolic profile in vegetarians is partially attributable to lower BMI. With proper management of TAG and HDL, along with caution about the intake of refined carbohydrates and fructose, a plant-based diet may benefit all aspects of the metabolic profile. PMID: 26355190
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