Is there something fundamentally wrong with getting a lot of protein?
The high-protein, high-fat diet that is customarily consumed by the average American promotes inflammatory reaction; there is no question about that. You see a lot of stuff changing in the immune system [with this diet] and other sorts of things that are associated with inflammation that we tend to be familiar with – a risk factor for heart disease as well. A plant-based diet – if you will, that means fruits and grains – that has all the protein we need. As a matter of fact, it's the ideal level of protein.
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The study concluded that diseases in more affluent areas tended to be linked with 'nutritional extravagance' which is characterized by higher levels of meat and dairy consumption. It also found that blood cholesterol which was higher in people who consumed animal based products was associated with higher rates of chronic disease. Additionally, it noticed that those who had higher fiber intakes had lower rates of colon cancer.
Per the book, the study was significant because it was the most comprehensive study ever done on diet and disease, it generated a huge amount of data, it was able to make statistically significant contrasts between those who ate plant-based foods and those who ate animal-based foods, and it studied a stationary population which kept lifestyle and diet variables consistent over time.
Interestingly, since the research was published, diets in the rural communities have changed due to the rapid growth of China's economy, leading to more affluence, higher consumption of animal-based products, and increasing rates of chronic illness.