Is veganism good for you? Norfolk experts launch £5m study to find out
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A group of Norwich scientists are launching a study to find out whether a plant based diet could be the key to tackling some of the world’s biggest health problems.
Researchers at the University of East Anglia, John Innes Centre, Quadram Institute and the Earlham Institute have been given £5m by the Wellcome Trust to investigate the health benefits of a plant based diet.
The Edesia: Plants, Food and Health project, will see PhD researchers from across Norwich Research Park work together to unravel the complex relationship between plant-based foods, metabolism, gut microbiota and health.
The project is named after the Roman goddess of food and reflects the growing understanding of the important role plant based diets play in tackling chronic illnesses such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Professor Ian Clark from the UEA's School of Biological Sciences, who is directing the project said: "The largest burden on the NHS stems from poor diet and food-related ill health, costing around £5.8bn per year."
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"It has been estimated that dietary change could prevent more than 50pc of contemporary public health problems.
"Fruit and vegetables supply most essential vitamins and micronutrients as well as fibre, resistant starch, polyphenols, flavonoids and carotenoids in human diet. But these benefits have been poorly understood or overshadowed by the concentration on calorie intake over the past 40 years. We want to change that."
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Professor Cathie Martin, co-director of the programme from the John Innes Centre added: "The loss of plant-based, unrefined foods from the human diet means more people are burdened with nutritional insecurity and associated chronic illnesses.
"If we want to improve the health of future societies world-wide we need more evidence and this programme will start to address that."
Earlier this year a major international report published by the EAT-Lancet Commission found that food represents one of the greatest health and environmental challenges of the 21st century.
The report calculated that switching to high plant based diet with limited animal and unhealthy foods could prevent as many as 11m deaths per year.