What is the healthiest Diet?

written by Dr. Padmaja Patel, MD Internal Medicine

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The U.S. spends substantially more on healthcare than any other developed country, at an average of $8402 per person. As of 2009, healthcare spending in the U.S. was about 90% higher than in many other industrialized countries. But even after spending 18% of the GDP on our healthcare, we rank near the bottom in health outcomes. 70% of all Americans consume prescription medications and they are spending more on pharmaceuticals than all of the rest of the world combined. 

WHY IS THAT? 

We are focusing on treating the symptoms of a disease rather than addressing the root causes of many common chronic illnesses, which in many cases are linked to our diet. Our toxic “Standard American Diet” is made up of refined and processed food, animal-based products with saturated fats, cholesterol, added sugar and sweetener, excessive protein and very little plant-based food. 

WHY HAVE OUR DIETARY GUIDELINES NOT ADDRESSED THESE ISSUES AND HELPED US MAKE BETTER FOOD CHOICES? Most experts feel that each time new dietary guidelines come out, they invariably fail to describe an optimal dietary pattern and are often vague. 

Furthermore, the pressure from the food industry and financial incentives often dictate what is finally published. 

Interestingly, according to the CDC, more than 75% of our nation’s healthcare costs are tied to the treatment of preventable conditions that are lifestyle related. 

WHY ARE WE NOT TALKING ABOUT HEALTH AND LIFESTYLE?
The reality is that there is a tremendous profit in disease, with all the latest and most expensive tests and with new and costly medicines that come out every day, everyone profits in this market. Unfortunately there is no profit in health, at least not to the health industry. 

If you are ready to take care of your health, you will be happy to learn that the solution is simple and it is freely available, it is a whole food plant-based diet. While physical activity, stress management, avoiding smoking, adequate sleep and social interaction all play a huge role, food is the most important factor in maintaining health. Every healthy bite is a step towards a healthy life. 

SO WHY HAVEN’T WE HEARD ABOUT THIS SO FAR?
Well, for two simple reasons. First of all, there is no financial incentive in promoting this healthy lifestyle. Also, it is difficult to have a conversation about nutrition in a regular 10-15 minute office visit and for the most part, physicians are not trained in nutrition as a part of their medical education. 

WHAT IS A WHOLE FOOD PLANT- BASED DIET?
It is a dietary lifestyle that maximizes the intake of whole, plant-foods and minimizes or eliminates the intake of processed and animal-derived foods. Consumption of meat including chicken and fish, dairy products and eggs, as well as highly refined foods like bleached flour, refined sugar, and oils are minimized or eliminated. If you eat a balanced variety of whole, plant- based foods, you will be consuming all the carbohydrates, proteins and fats you need for optimal health. 

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS? 

Studies have shown that it prevents, arrests and even reverses chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, decreases cancer risk, helps to prevent and halt the progression of number of autoimmune diseases, lowers blood pressure, lowers cholesterol, promotes healthy weight loss, prevents and reverses erectile dysfunction, eliminates constipation, improves reflux symptoms, improves sleep and increases energy, improves mood and mental clarity. Not to mention it is age-defying and longevity enhancing. Best results are seen when one adopts to a whole food plant-based diet and eliminates all animal products completely. 

WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS? 

One of the most common side effect, which is also financially rewarding, is that one may need less of a prescribed medication or may have to discontinue some of their medications all together at the discretion of a treating physician. 

WHAT DO SOME OF THE EXPERTS WHO ADVOCATE PLANT-BASED DIET SAY?
According to Neal Barnard, MD, founder of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, “Plant- based diet adherents have 60% lower risk of developing diabetes, and those who switch to a plant- based diet can lower blood sugar levels and reduce medication use compared to people following a standard diabetic diet protocol. 

“A whole food plant-based diet can prevent and slow cancer growth. Specifically, it reduces gastrointestinal and women- specific cancers such as ovarian and breast cancer. Plants are rich in cancer-fighting antioxidants and phytonutrients.” 

Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr., MD, Author of Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease says, “It is the number one killer in America, yet heart disease is a toothless paper tiger that need never exist, and if does exist, it need never progress.” 

William W. Li, MD, President, Angiogenesis Foundation: “ Can we beInformed eat to starve cancer? Yes, we can. What we eat three times a day is our chemotherapy.” 

WHAT CAN YOU DO LOCALLY? 

I am excited to share Midland Health is offering a new program, Complete Health Improvement Program (CHIP). It is one of the best community- based intensive therapeutic lifestyle programs and is available to anyone that is interested in making healthy lifestyle changes. 

Founded more than 25 years ago, CHIP has helped more than 70,000 participants regain their health and has been featured in more than 30 scientific and health journals, including prestigious American Journal of Cardiology. CHIP truly has proven results and provides priceless benefits. 

On average, CHIP participants at highest risk experienced benefits after 30 days. 

1.Decrease in blood pressure 2.Decrease in weight/BMI 3.Decrease in total cholesterol 4.Decrease in triglycerides 5.Decrease in fasting plasma glucose
6.Better ability to deal with stress 

At Midland Health, this program will be delivered in a unique setting where it is medically supervised by trained medical personnel and participants have access to additional support options like weekly educational classes, grocery tours and referral to community support group. 

 

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