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The Angiogenesis Foundation’s Research on How Foods Activate Health Defenses Supports Planetary Health Diet Recommended by EAT-Lancet Commission

Contributor: Eat to Beat Cancer

CAMBRIDGE, MA — The Angiogenesis Foundation commented on the EAT-Lancet Commission’s ‘planetary health diet,’ which was presented by Harvard Professor Walter Willett at the United Nations in New York City on February 5, 2019.  The recommendations emerged from a three-year study, funded by the Wellcome Trust involving 37 scientists from 16 countries, examining challenges posed by foods and food systems to both human and planetary health. The study’s premise was that current patterns of food consumption and production are leading to rising levels of chronic disease as well as unsustainable burdens that are eroding planetary resources. 

“Food and health is now at the forefront of the global agenda,” said Dr. William W. Li, President and Medical Director of the Foundation. “We must address the severe degradation of our environment and improve human health by changing our dietary practices in ways that are supported by science. The time is right for an idea like the planetary health diet.”

The Commission’s proposed planetary health diet would require doubling the consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts, and reducing by half the intake of red meat and added sugar. As a result, the Commission estimated 11 million human deaths could be avoided each year. Concurrently, agricultural production must prioritize high quality foods over quantity, the use of land and oceans must be better governed, and food losses and waste must be reduced by at least half to prevent dangerous instability of the Earth’s resources.

According to the Angiogenesis Foundation, 80 percent of chronic diseases are preventable, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. “We now have a modern view of why foods, primarily plant-based foods, benefit health — they activate health defense systems within the body, allowing us to resist and even reverse disease,” said Li. “This shifts the focus to what we can add into our diet, and not just what we need to remove. Using scientific targets brings healthy diets into modern times.”

The Angiogenesis Foundation’s mission is to improve global health by addressing common denominators of disease, with a focus on angiogenesis, or new blood vessel growth, and other health related processes in the body. For more than a decade, Foundation researchers have been studying the mechanisms by which foods can foster health and stave off disease. More than 200 foods have been shown to have beneficial actions, such as improve circulation, influence stem cells, foster a healthy microbiome, help protect DNA, and strengthen immunity. The benefits of these foods are explained by Li in the new book EAT TO BEAT DISEASE: the New Science of How Your Body Can Heal Itself  (March 19, 2019). 

“While medical research continues to make major strides in disease treatment, food is clearly a solution for making people healthier and tackling the burdens of modern healthcare,” said Li.  “The good news is that food doesn’t require a doctor’s prescription, and it’s easy to start adding healthy foods that you already enjoy to improve the quality of your life.”

The Angiogenesis Foundation’s HealthXpedition™ initiative is setting out to find how diet and other lifestyle measures can enhance the body’s ability to naturally thwart disease and restore health after illness. The HealthXpedition™ initiative was announced by Dr. Li at the 2018 Vatican’s Unite to Cure conference in Vatican City.  Previously, the Foundation convened a World Summit on Food & Health: Catalyzing a New Paradigm for Living Well and Healthy Aging in Paris, France, in 2015, bringing together diverse leaders in science, medicine, nutrition, advocacy, policy, technology, exploration, and population health.

To learn more about the Angiogenesis Foundation, please visit


Established in 1994, the Angiogenesis Foundation's mission is to improve global health by advancing angiogenesis-based medicine, diet, and lifestyle. For more information, visit

posted on February 7, 2019


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