Whole Food-Plant Based Nutrition for Life: A Preventive Approach For Many Chronic Diseases

by Varsha Rathod, M.D.

In the last 15 years of practice, patients have presented to me several dietary plans such as, Pritikin, Atkins, Paleo, South Beach, The Zone, low Carbohydrate diets for Candida, gluten intolerance / celiac diets, Mediterranean, vegetarian, vegan, you name it! These diets have been a source of confusion for doctors and patients alike. However, one common denominator for most of these diets is that vegetables with color area key component of the meal plan.

In 2007, I decided to read “The China Study” by Dr. Colin Campbell, PhD. The profoundly simple message publication of this book is that animal proteins, food based on meat or dairy products are associated with “new world” diseases such as Diabetes, Autoimmunity, Alzheimer’s, Cancer and Obesity. Amazingly studies also showed that plant protein in its natural form, prevented such diseases. In 1988, Dr. Dean Ornish published findings that showed, end stage Heart Disease could be controlled and even reversed by consuming a whole foods-plant based diet.
I began to incorporate this diet of whole food with little to no animal protein and minimal oil into practice and in my own life. Many patients have committed themselves to the effort of changing their nutritional habits and have noticed: improvements in energy, and a decrease in disease symptoms in a relatively short time.

I recommend patients gradually transition their lifestyle to a whole food-plant based diet. Many patients who made this change noticed improvements in: mood, energy, sleep habits, appearance, etc. A Whole Food is one that has not been significantly modified from its original form. For example wheat in whole grain form or as cracked wheat is considered to be a whole food. Wheat flower, produced by processing and extracting components of wheat (in its original form), is not considered a whole food. Food dyes, preservatives, hydrogenated fats, high fructose corn syrup, etc., are manmade and therefore foreign to our body. These products can cause stress that leads to disruption of normal biological function and can lead to disease. Plant based simply means that it can include any vegetable, fruit, legume, grain, nuts, seeds, etc. In short, to have a whole food plant based lifestyle, you should eat plant based food as close to its original form as possible. Since oils do not grow on trees, it is best to reduce consumption and instead use the fruit, nut, or seed from which it is originated. This is true even of olive oil!

Two movies due to be released soon, espouse the benefits for self and for our ecosystem by adopting this nutritional lifestyle. They are ‘Forks over Knives’ directed by Lee Fulkerson and ‘Planeat’ directed by Shelley Lee Davies. The two documentaries give additional insight as to why eating “whole food” is the better approach for longevity and vitality.

Do not get overwhelmed by the magnitude of change this involves. A good approach would be to start slow and choose 1-3 days a week to follow this plan. If you are successful then add another day each week until you are able to transition to this lifestyle. Gradually, your taste buds change and you will actually crave these foods. If you are not ready to go completely “vegetarian or vegan,” you could initially add familiar items, and gradually shift to the whole food, plant based lifestyle at a pace that suits you. Remember, vegetables, especially the green ones are to be consumed daily. They supply necessary nutrients needed for health, repair, and vitality. This lifestyle has become my passion and joy!

At Preventive Medicine, we offer nutritional counseling and support for our patients. My approach to wellness advocates healthy nutrition first. If you or a family member is struggling with proper nutrition choices and is in need of one on one counseling to prevent or reverse disease, please contact our office. We are happy to assist you.
Good health to you.

Dr. Varsha Rathod is a board certified Rheumatologist and Internist at Preventive Medicine in the Westport Plaza Area of St. Louis, MO. The practice has focused on a combination of traditional and holistic medicine since 1967. For more articles and information about integrative solutions please visit www.preventivemedicinestl.com or call Preventive Medicine at 314-997-5403.
The information presented in this publication is for general educational purposes only. It is not intended to be used for the diagnoses of any illness. It should not serve as a substitute for being evaluated by a certified healthcare provider. If you suffer from any of these conditions you should consult a physician or an appropriate health care provider.

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