Making The Paradigm Shift From Drugs To Diet

Approximately 17.5 million people with heart disease are qualified to use statin medication i.e. atorvastatin, pravastatin, and simvastatin. This equates to most men over 60 years old and most women over 65 years. Many are unaware that, by utilizing the correct portions of fruits and vegetables per day, they can decrease their cholesterol by 35% in just two weeks. This is equivalent to the use of the common statin drugs prescribed to patients with heart disease.

So, the question arises: drug or diet?

A vegetarian diet, if applied as a lifestyle, could at a minimum save 200,000 lives a year according to Harvard Medical School’s most recent study. There has been prior research and evidence regarding the benefits of a plant-based diet; most recently, the statistics have shown the drastic plummet in overall society’s health. Dr. Walter Willett, a Harvard professor of epidemiology and nutrition, stated that the benefits of a plant-based diet have been massively underestimated until now. If one-third of every early death could be prevented by a vegetarian diet, it should at least merit society’s attention.

Every family has been through or knows someone who has personally struggled with a chronic disease. We’re familiar with stories about how a routine doctor’s visit could turn into a cascade of unfortunate news about their physical health. Sometimes, the disease is caught before it reaches its upper stages but often, the disease progresses too far to be reversible or preventable without drastic measures like surgery. As a caring family member or friend, we wish we could have done something to prevent a person from suffering.

Chronic killers

In the United States alone about half of all adults have one chronic lifestyle disease. More than 115 million people suffer from prediabetes or diabetes. Diabetes often leads to heart problems, nerve damage, blindness, strokes, and kidney failure. In fact, diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.

There is a need for sharing lifestyle studies that do not always make the headlines. Health educators can lead the way to a healthier future. Even though research shows the positive implications of a plant-based diet, it is still undervalued. Partially, the reason can be due to the lack of coverage and education programs. Even though the statistics are dark and saddening, society can defeat the odds by making a change in diet and lifestyle. If you find yourself part of these statistics stated above, do not claim defeat. We can accept the facts, but we do not have to accept the fate of an unhealthy future.

What should you do?

First, work with your doctor. Strategize a plan to transform your health using a plant-based diet. Eliminate animal products, highly processed and high-fat foods. Add fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes to your menu. Eliminating meat is not impossible, but it takes determination and an understanding of the benefits. There are so many examples of patients who applied this change to their life and have seen amazing results in their health.

Proof it works

Per a study conducted by the world-renowned doctor, Neal Barnard MD, it was shown that a plant-based diet controls blood sugar three times more effectively than the traditional diabetes diet. The plant-based diet tackles the problems that lead to the disease initially. A follow-up study confirmed these results finding that patients eating a plant-based diet had an approximately 50% less chance of developing diabetes compared to those eating animal products. Therefore, a plant-based diet has become an accepted treatment plan for type-2 diabetes. The plant-based diet is so successful that it was endorsed in the American Diabetes Association’s 2018 Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes It also encouraged healthcare providers to include education on lifestyle management.

One more large breakthrough in the healthcare system is the incorporation of a plant-based diet in one of the largest managed healthcare organizations in the United States. Kaiser Permanente Medical Center encourages all physicians to consider recommending a plant-based diet to their patients. The American Medical Association, American College of Cardiology, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics all urge the plant-based diet.

Dr. Neal Barnard states:

“It’s one of the most profound shifts I’ve witnessed during my medical career. As a student, I was taught that diabetes was progressive and incurable and that once you have it, it never goes away. I watched patients…walk through the door in the early stages of the disease. Over time, I saw them experience serious complications, like vision loss, kidney failure, and debilitating neuropathic pain, all the while receiving more and more medication. Never once did I hear a doctor say that a patient was cured. Never once did I see a patient hope that it was possible. For the millions of Americans living with diabetes today, that’s no longer the case. With a plant-based diet, the solution for the diabetes epidemic is now at hand.”


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Raeann Leal

Raeann is a graduate student at Loma Linda University School of Public Health pursuing her MPH in Lifestyle Medicine. In her free time, Raeann likes to cook unique and healthy dishes, read relevant and recent research articles related to diseases and their cures, and experience the outdoors.

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