Sperling Prostate Center

Proof at Last: Food As Medicine Will Save Your Life!

Have you ever fantasized about starring in a movie? Did you imagine the fame and fortune that comes with being featured on the silver screen? Ceremonially pressing your handprints into the concrete in the sidewalk outside Grauman’s Chinese Theater?

Well, I can’t make you a Hollywood idol, but I have a hot tip that will help you star in your personal “health documentary”! No, you don’t need to film it—you just need to live it. It may not make it to streaming services as films like Forks Over Knives or What the Health did. You won’t win an Oscar. But what you will receive is the key to a long and healthy life.

Food study with identical twins reveals astonishing fact

I just read a fascinating study of 22 healthy, adult, identical twin pairs in which each pair member was assigned to one of two diets for eight weeks. Can you guess what the two diets were? One was healthy omnivorous (eat anything you want—all healthy foods are eligible) and the other was vegan.

Why does this study matter? Two big reasons:

  • Identical twins are perfect for comparison studies because they are genetically alike. They are literally apples-to-apples study subjects.
  • Despite the growing number of persuasive books and films on food as medicine, skeptics and naysayers abound. In addition, many people like the idea of eating plant-based diets but just haven’t found the ideal incentive to make the switch. Maybe this study will give them the final boost to give up meat and animal by-products?

To quote the study authors, most with Standford University (Palo Alto, CA), the research involved an “8- week, open-label, parallel, dietary randomized clinical trial [comparing] the health impact of a vegan diet vs an omnivorous diet in identical twins.”[i] For the first four weeks, diet-specific meals were prepared offsite and delivered to participants’ homes; for the remainder of the study, participants prepared their own diet-appropriate meals and snacks.


What did the research show? The authors write, “After 8 weeks, compared with twins randomized to an omnivorous diet, the twins randomized to the vegan diet experienced significant mean [standard deviation] decreases in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentration, fasting insulin level, and body weight.” In other words, those on a vegan diet were healthier than their sibling counterparts. They were less likely to develop cardiovascular disease and metabolic disorders like diabetes.

The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates said, “Let food be they medicine and medicine be they food.” And yet, “… many doctors’ knowledge of nutrition is rudimentary. Most feel much more comfortable with drugs than foods, and the ‘food as medicine’ philosophy of Hippocrates has been largely neglected.”[ii] Of course, we all have to eat to live, but research is piling up showing that diet has the power not only to treat a wide range of chronic conditions and diseases, but also to prevent them altogether.

The twins comparison study offers compelling evidence—I’ll go so far as to say proof—that vegan diets promote total wellbeing better than health omnivorous eating. In case you’re wondering exactly what vegan means, the British National Health Service describes a strict vegan diet as “based on plants (such as vegetables, grains, nuts and fruits) and foods made from plants. Vegans do not eat foods that come from animals, including dairy products and eggs.” That sets the bar pretty high! However, a somewhat
softer approach adds a bit of leniency; if you’re not quite ready to eliminate all animal products but want to begin moving in that direction, check out the NHS’ Eatwell Guide for some guidelines.

Meanwhile, I invite you to ponder the implications of Stanford’s twins study. As far as I know, the University is not producing a documentary about it, but consider embarking on producing, writing, directing and starring in your own version. Perhaps you can title it, “The Healthier Vegan: Me” and present yourself with an award of golden health.

NOTE: This content is solely for purposes of information and does not substitute for diagnostic or medical advice. Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing pelvic pain, or have any other health concerns or questions of a personal medical nature.

[i] Landry MJ, Ward CP, Cunanan KM, et al. Cardiometabolic Effects of Omnivorous vs Vegan Diets in Identical
Twins: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Netw Open. 2023;6(11):e2344457.
[ii] Smith R. “Let food be thy medicine…”. BMJ. 2004 Jan 24;328(7433):0.


About Dr. Dan Sperling

Dan Sperling, MD, DABR, is a board certified radiologist who is globally recognized as a leader in multiparametric MRI for the detection and diagnosis of a range of disease conditions. As Medical Director of the Sperling Prostate Center, Sperling Medical Group and Sperling Neurosurgery Associates, he and his team are on the leading edge of significant change in medical practice. He is the co-author of the new patient book Redefining Prostate Cancer, and is a contributing author on over 25 published studies. For more information, contact the Sperling Prostate Center.

You may also be interested in...

WordPress Image Lightbox