Kaiser Permanente, the largest managed healthcare organization in the United States, has published a remarkable nutritional update for physicians, telling them 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.” This is good news for Kaiser’s 10 million members, because following this advice leads to lower blood pressure; 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; reduced risk of dementia; and reduced risk of cancer.
Considering that 71% of the medical schools in the United States fail to deliver a mere 25 hours of nutritional education to the physicians they graduate, it’s refreshing to see a major health care organization finally beginning to take nutrition seriously. 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…” (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: “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.” The paper ends by saying “further research is needed to find ways to make plant-based diets the new normal for our patients and employees