Vegan diet linked to 58% drop in medications taken by older people, study finds

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A recently published study examined whether diet could have an effect on the health of older people. Specifically, the researchers investigated whether following a vegan diet could reduce the number of medications taken by older people.

The study was published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine last month.

It aimed to solve the “public health dilemma” of polypharmacy, referring to when many drugs are prescribed to one person.

Polypharmacy is relatively common in older populations. But it comes with potential health risks, researchers say. They report data showing that people who take more than five medications per day have an 88% higher risk of drug-related side effects.

Additionally, patients with adverse drug events tend to have longer and more expensive hospital stays, as well as high mortality rates.

The research

The cross-sectional analysis included data from 328 participants aged 60 or older.

Researchers collected the data using questionnaires and measurement tools at Loma Linda University Drayson Center in California, between 2015 and 2016.

Most of the participants ate meat, representing 57% of the sample. Twenty-one percent were vegetarians and 10.6 and 10.8 percent were pescatarians and vegans, respectively.

They found that a plant-based diet reduced pill count by 58% compared to meat eaters, even after adjusting for covariates.

People on a vegan diet consumed the lowest amount of pills in the entire sample. During this time, the increase in age and BMI, as well as the presence of disease, increased the number of pills.

The study highlights an “interesting finding” that although the vegan participants took less medication, the vegetarian participants still consumed a similar amount of pills as the meat eaters.

“Our results show that a healthy diet, especially a vegan diet, can be protective by leading to a reduction in the number of pills taken, either by preventing the development of risk factors and / or cardiovascular disease, or by helping to control such conditions. ” the study reads.