New research on plant based diets is in the works. The John Innes Centre, based in the UK, will co-lead a Ph.D. research program to find if a plant based diet prevents chronic illness.

This program’s goal is to provide insight into a plant based diets, from the plant’s seed stage through the time a person visits a clinic for a checkup. Called “The Edesia: Plants, Food and Health Ph.D. Program,” it’s named after the Roman goddess of food.

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This program provides a unique opportunity for students to study how foods help with chronic illnesses and what their links and benefits are. The Edesia: Plants, Food and Health Ph.D. Program is a cross-disciplinary program utilizing the expertise of Norwich Research Park, University of East Anglia, John Innes Centre, Quadram Institute and Earlham Institute.

The five-year intensive will guide 5 students in studying metabolism, gut health, metabolism and health outcomes. Five students will each be in the program over a five-year period, for a total of 25. The co-director of the program, Professor Cathie Martin stressed the importance of how this research will affect future societies’ diets, food production and choices.

Plant-based diets have long been touted for their health benefits. Hospital systems have begun to recognize the importance of food in preventing illness and maintaining health. Program director Professor Ian Clark said, “The largest burden on the NHS stems from poor diet and food related ill health, costing around £5.8 billion per year.”

A plant-based diet could prevent 11 million deaths each year, according to an EAT-Lancet Commission Report. Plant-based diets also have numerous environmental benefits, including reduced dependence on agriculture systems, reduced water use and fossil fuel reduction.

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