Are you aware that most of the deaths in the United States are actually preventable? Even more so, these preventable deaths are related to the many decisions we make multiple times per day, every day. These deaths are related to what we eat. (1)
Unfortunately, nutrition is rarely discussed by physicians as means for prevention, or even treatment/management, of a particular disease aside from the typical, "You need to lose weight" or "You need to focus on a healthier diet". This is because, according to the most recent national survey, only 25% of medical schools offer one course in nutrition (2). Yes, you read that right. Twenty-five percent only offer one course in nutrition.
Yet, despite the years of training we have as dietitians, many of my patients still default to the "nutrition" advice their physician gave them. I don't blame physicians for having little nutrition background. Honestly, in regards to my work as an oncology dietitian, I'd rather have our physicians bury their heads in the research of the disease process of cancer and the treatments, rather than become experts in nutrition, wouldn't you?
I thought so.
That's why I've buried my head in the research. I believe we deserve to be informed of the most up-to-date research regarding nutrition and its role in prevention and treatment/management of many chronic diseases and illnesses. But I think we all know that shifting through all of the nutrition information out there and trying to identify what sources are credible is exhausting.
Lucky for you, I truly enjoy reading through the research. I am truly a nutrition nerd. #noshame
The research over and over and over and over (...you get the picture...) and over again has identified the healthiest diet to follow for those looking to prevent and manage/treat many of the most common chronic diseases that contribute to many of the preventable deaths in the U.S.
What diet is that? A whole food, plant-based diet (WFPBD).
What does the WFPBD consist of?
- Whole Grains (whole wheat bread, barley, brown rice, etc.)
- Fruits (apples, oranges, berries, etc.)
- Vegetables (carrots, greens, peppers, etc.)
- Starchy Vegetables & Tubers (potatoes, yams, corn, winter squash, etc.)
- Beans & Legumes (black beans, kidney beans, lentils, etc.)
- Nuts & Seeds (almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, etc.)
The research strongly shows that a diet consisting of foods from these six categories while eliminating dairy, meat, poultry, fish/seafood, and eggs is the healthiest diet. Wait. I know you are thinking I'm crazy and thinking to yourself, "I'm not eliminating those foods." The good news is that you don't have to completely give up some of your favorite foods to have a positive impact on your health. Simply eating more of these whole, plant-based foods and less animal based can help reduce your risk of many chronic diseases.
For those of you who want to jump right in, flip your diet 180 degrees, and follow a WFPBD, join me! For those of you who are looking to improve your health and looking to have a few plant-based meals a week, join me! And for those of you who totally question a plant-based lifestyle, I encourage you to join me--I think you'll be pleasantly surprised how yummy these foods are while doing good things for your health. What do you have to lose?
(1) Lenders C, Gorman K, Milch H, et al. A novel nutrition medicine education models: the Boston University experience. Adv Nutr. 2013;4(1):1-7.
(2) Kris-Etherton PM, Akabas SR, Bales CW, et al. The need to advance nutrition education in the training of health care professionals and recommended research to evaluate implementation and effectiveness. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014;99(5 Suppl):1153S-66S.