What Diet Should Physicians Recommend?

Image Credit: lightwise / 123RF Stock Photo. This image has been modified.

Making Plant-Based Diets the New Normal

A Nutritional Update for Physicians was published in the official journal of Kaiser Permanente, the largest managed care organization in the United States. It told physicians that healthy eating may best be achieved with a plant-based diet, defined as a regimen that “encourages whole, plant-based foods and discourages meats, dairy and eggs as well as all refined and processed junk.”

The Update notes:

“too often, physicians ignore the potential benefits of good nutrition and quickly prescribe medications instead of giving patients a chance to correct their disease through healthy eating and active living. Physicians should therefore consider recommending a plant-based diet to all their patients, especially those with high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or obesity.”

The major downside described is that it may work a little too well. If people are on medications, their blood pressure or blood sugar could actually drop too low, so physicians may need to adjust medications or eliminate them altogether.

The report continues that “despite the strong body of evidence favoring plant-based diets, many physicians are not stressing the importance of plant-based diets as a first-line treatment for chronic illnesses. This could be because of a lack of physician awareness or a lack of patient education resources.” So Kaiser sought to change that. “Want to lose weight, feel better, improve, stabilize, or even reverse chronic disease, and get off some of your medications?” a Kaiser Permanente leaflet (which you can see in my video, What Diet Should Physicians Recommend?) asks. “If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then a plant-based eating plan may be for you.” Side-effects include: lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar; reversal or prevention of heart disease, our number one killer; a longer life; a healthier weight; lower risk of diabetes; improvement of inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis; and a slowed progression of certain types of cancer.

Kaiser offers tips to get started, such as meal plan ideas, and a list of online resources (including NutritionFacts.org!). The paper ends with a familiar refrain: “further research is needed.” In this case, though, further research is necessary, they explained,  to “find ways to make plant-based diets the new normal for our patients and employees.”

So exciting to see lifestyle medicine suppported. For more on this new medical specialty:

Unfortunately much of medical training is substandard when it comes to nutrition:

-Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live year-in-review presentations Uprooting the Leading Causes of DeathMore Than an Apple a DayFrom Table to Able, and Food as Medicine.

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Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.


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