Vegan Diet Reduces Medication Use for Seniors By 58%, Study Finds

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Older adults who consume a vegan diet take 58% fewer medications than meat-eaters, finds a new study. The research, which compared the dietary patterns and the number of pills seniors take regularly, also found that plant-based diets were associated with a range of better health outcomes, from lower blood pressure to weight. 

Plant-based diets are linked to lower medication use among seniors, research has found. The study, published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, noted a 58% reduction in the number of pills taken by older adults who ate a vegan diet, compared to those who were non-vegetarian. 

58% reduction in pill use

The study focused on polypharmacy, which refers to the use of five or more prescribed medications, and is considered to be a prevalent issue among older adults. Researchers from the Drayson Center at Loma Linda University investigated how dietary patterns would impact polypharmacy among seniors. 

“We hypothesized that a plant-based diet and healthy lifestyle choices decreases morbidities and number of medications taken,” wrote the authors. 

Examining the diets of 328 participants aged 60 or above through questionnaires, the study found consistent results linking vegan diets with lower pill use, even after adjusting for covariables. 

On the other hand, increases in age, body mass index (BMI), and presence of disease was positively associated with polypharmacy. The most significant factor was a high BMI, the study said. 

Vegan diets lead to better health outcomes

Not only was a plant-based diet linked to lower medication use among older adults, seniors who did not eat meat or dairy also showcased better overall health. 

“Increased fiber intake and lower intakes of saturated fat associated with vegan diets improve blood sugar, blood pressure, weight, cholesterol, and other health outcomes linked to better health,” wrote the authors. 

“Our results show that eating healthy, especially a vegan diet, may be protective in leading to a reduced number of pills taken, either by preventing the development of risk factors and/or cardiovascular disease or by helping on the controlling of such conditions.”

Power of plant-based diets

The latest study adds to the growing bed of evidence proving the wide range of health benefits linked to plant-based diets. Most recently, three new studies connected plant-based food intake with better urological health, reduced risk of prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction in men. 

There is also evidence that vegan diets reduce the risk of heart disease, and boosts the presence of gut microbes that are linked to lower obesity rates and diabetes. 

All images courtesy of Pexels.


  • Sally Ho

    Sally Ho is Green Queen's former resident writer and lead reporter. Passionate about the environment, social issues and health, she is always looking into the latest climate stories in Hong Kong and beyond. A long-time vegan, she also hopes to promote healthy and plant-based lifestyle choices in Asia. Sally has a background in Politics and International Relations from her studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

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