The importance of a plant-based diet as a central component of preventative health is gaining increasing momentum in the field of medicine. Health care professionals across the country and around the world have begun to recognize the crucial role that a balanced plant-based diet plays in maintaining health and reversing disease. While many research scientists and practicing physicians have long understood this, major industry players such as Kaiser Permanente are now coming on board. A special report in the spring issue of the Permanente Journal urged all Kaiser doctors to recommend plant-based diets to their patients and noted that plant-based diets “may be especially beneficial for those with obesity, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, lipid disorders, or cardiovascular disease.”
Citing concerns about the rising cost of health care combined with the spread of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, the authors noted that plant-based diets are “cost-effective, low-risk interventions that may lower body mass index, blood pressure and …cholesterol levels. They may also reduce the number of medications needed to treat chronic diseases and lower ischemic heart disease mortality rates.”
The Permanente Journal is assembled by a group of Kaiser clinicians “to promote the delivery of superior health care through the principles and benefits of Permanente Medicine.” With 8.9 million members enrolled in its health plan and 14,600 physicians on its payroll, Kaiser Permanente is poised to lead the nation in establishing better protocols for preventive care. Presented at the North American Plant-based Nutrition Healthcare Conference, the report will likely have a strong impact.
“The alarming rise of chronic disease trends, among both adults and children, is sounding the wake-up call in the medical community that the current ‘disease’ care system must be replaced with a true ‘health’ care system,” says Scott Stoll, MD and co-founder of the conference. “It’s critical that preventive medicine, which is sorely lacking in our medical schools, become the foundation of our nation’s health care system.”
Only a generation or two ago, nutrition was considered secondary to overall health. Now, due to the overwhelming weight of evidence spurred by rising levels of obesity and chronic disease, the establishment opinion has shifted profoundly: plant-based diets are no longer viewed as a fringe preference, they are the foundation of good health. The Permanente Journal abstract concluded by stating, “The future of health care will involve an evolution toward a paradigm where the prevention and treatment of disease is centered, not on a pill or surgical procedure, but on another serving of fruits and vegetables.”
Philip J Tuso, MD; Mohamed H Ismail, MD; Benjamin P Ha, MD; Carole Bartolotto, MA, RD. "Nutritional Update for Physicians: Plant-Based Diets." The Permanente Journal (Kaiser Permanente). 2013 Spring; 17(2):61-66.