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DOI: 10.1101/2023.05.17.23290094

Periodic veganism in healthy individuals improves blood lipids, reduces low-grade inflammation, but impairs bone health: the FastBio study

E. M.Loizidou P. Barbounakis S. Glentis ...+6 A. S. Dimas
Background. Dietary restriction (DR) is gaining ground as a means to prevent and treat a range of conditions and diseases. In our study we address the impact of periodic abstinence from animal products (periodic veganism) on markers of health. Methods. We profiled 200 periodic vegan (PV) individuals who switch between an omnivorous and a vegan diet, abstaining for 180-200 days annually, in a highly structured manner. We also profiled 211 non-vegan (NV), omnivorous individuals. Traits were measured at two timepoints, the first capturing a period of omnivory for both groups, the second capturing a period during which PV individuals only had followed a vegan diet for three to four weeks. We report results on blood lipids (total, LDL, and HDL cholesterol, triglycerides), glucose metabolism (glucose, insulin, HBA1c), renal function (urea, uric acid, creatinine), liver function (AST, ALT, {gamma}-GT), bone/liver function (ALP), thyroid function (TSH), inflammation (CRP), complete blood counts, anthropometric traits and blood pressure. Results. Upon DR, PV individuals display decreased levels of total and LDL cholesterol [both {beta}=-0.3, 95% CI:(-0.4, -0.2) mmol/L] and of CRP [{beta}=-1.3, 95% CI:(-2.1, -0.5) mg/L] which drops by 28%. Compared to NV, PV individuals display consistently lower counts of total white blood cells (WBC) [{beta}=-0.4, 95% C.I:(-0.6,-0.3) K/L] and neutrophils [{beta}=-0.4, 95% C.I:(-0.5,-0.2) x10^3/l], but higher levels of ALP [{beta}=5.9, 95% C.I:(2.7,9.1) U/L], suggesting detrimental effects on bone health. Conclusion. Harnessing dietary intake to prevent and treat disease is a promising approach that should also be explored for synergies with pharmacological therapies.