On your inpatient rotation, you visit Mr AS, a 55 year old male, who was admitted for acute coronary syndrome rule out after he presented with shortness of breath and chest pain. He is obese, has uncontrolled type two Diabetes Mellitus, Angina, Hypertension, Hyperlipidemia, and is on multiple medications, including a statin, two anti-hypertensives, aspirin, as needed nitroglycerine, Metformin and insulin, multiple stool softeners, pain medications, neuropathic medications, anti depressants, and vitamin D. He has a multitude of other symptoms including a diabetic ulcer, peripheral edema, peripheral neuropathy, chronic lower back pain, gout, reflux, intermittent chest pain on exertion, headaches, fatigue, constipation, depression, poor urine flow, erectile dysfunction, and dizziness.
Anyone seen a patient like this??
So why should we care what Mr AS, or any other patient is eating? Does food have anything to do with disease? Let’s take a look at some of the studies…
So… whilst no one is saying food is a substitute for traditional medical care, the power of nutrition in prevention and as adjunctive therapy really cannot be ignored! So what do we tell patients?
A whole food, plant based diet is in line with much of the research above for optimal disease prevention, and in many cases even reversal, or at a minimum your best chance at achieving your ultimate health!
BUT WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR PROTEIN????!!!!
Most people actually eat TOO MUCH protein, especially animal protein!
What about iron?? Surely we need meat for iron?!
And too much, especially the physiological un-regulated heme iron, can actually be detrimental to health!
What about calcium? Are you trying to tell me I don’t need to consume dairy products??
But won’t I feel hungry just eating plants? Well… it depends what kinds of plants you are eating! By using the principles of caloric density, you can eat large volumes of plants and feel full, without overdoing the calories! This is why we recommend a whole food plant based diet, as opposed to a ‘vegan’ diet, as that can mean processed cookies/chips and soft drink! Not exactly nutritious or filling unlike wholegrains, legumes, fruits and vegetables, which should be the focus of dietary intake!
As you can see here, the caloric density choices can drastically change to amount of food that can be eaten in one day for the same amount of calories.
How to get started? Just start by focusing on adding more good, rather than ‘all the things you can’t have’! Eventually the good will start to crowd out the less good!