Step one is the realization that, as per the analysis presented in Dr. Saray Stancic’s Code Blue documentary, 86% of healthcare spending is on the treatment of chronic illness which per se responds better to diet (a Whole Foods, Plant-Based diet specifically), than to medical treatments, the proverbial “pills and procedures.” Economically, health care is the tapeworm that is eating the American economy because it is using a hammer when it should be using a screwdriver, and Lifestyle Medicine is beginning to change all that. The evolution is to a time when primary care is going to be all Lifestyle Medicine, and consist of 80% of prescriptions begin referrals to the produce aisle of your local supermarket, and 20% medical procedures, which an overall 90% reduction in reliance on medications.
“You will have to take this medication for the rest of your life,” will become a thing of the past, for it is the result of a misdiagnosis. The apparent ignorance of the cause has been busted, now that we know that 37 of the 40 leading causes of death respond better to a whole foods, plant-based diet than to pills ans procedures. In this part of my documentation on #WFPB and Lifestyle Medicine, I will focus on the clinicians that are working in the field.
It should be appreciated that the nutritional science paradigm of the Whole Foods, Plant-Based diet as being the optimal human nutrition, hinges on the work of T. Colin Campbell and his books The China Study and Whole. Some of the clinical work preceded him, including one of his ancestors, a doctor who lived 150 years before and whose works he read in the library at Oxford during a sabbatical. From the standpoint of the scientific paradigm, this nutritional paradigm has become the buoy that the whole plant-based health concept is moored to. You will find individual differences between the clinicians in the field, but that is less important than it seems, and more a matter of emphasis based on specific diagnoses or personal preference. What brings it all together is the #WFPB nutritional paradigm.
Besides the bibliography, I will also attempt to keep track of some articles and videos that pertain to specific diagnoses. In general, keep in mind that essentially every prognosis improves with a Whole Foods, Plant-Based diet, though some more than others. It will range from amelioration in some cases, to complete prevention and reversal in others, and I will try to consistently give ranges as they apply. Naturally, it is up to the individual to be consistent about their diet. If you’re not doing the work, you will not see the results. This is clearly one area where you reap what you sow. At any time your gut flora will tell the tale of how close you are to the ideal diet. Another option is self-assessment with the 4-Leaf Survey.
The Lifestyle Medicine Bible
Recently, several patients with such bad heart disease that they were told they needed a heart transplant went through our lifestyle medicine program and improved so much that they no longer needed a heart transplant! In addition to saving over $1 million per patient and avoiding a lifetime of immunosuppressant medications, these improvements graphically show how powerful and meaningful lifestyle medicine can be. What’s the more radical intervention-lifestyle changes or a heart transplant?Dean Ornish, MD, in the Foreword to the Lifestyle Medicine Handbook
The American College of Lifestyle Medicine has given us The Lifestyle Medicine Handbook, which is aimed at physicians who practice (or want to learn) lifestyle medicine. It is equally valuable for the educated lay person who wants a deeper understanding of the issues. So, while the rest of the books in this section focus on individual diagnoses and how their prognoses can improve with a whole foods, plant-based diet and other corollary lifestyle changes, this book brings it all together in one place.
Ornish’s foreword also cites the 86% number as the proportion of healthcare spending on chronic disease. In the same foreword Ornish also cites the research that shows that surgery and radiation do not improve outcomes in early stage prostate cancer after 10 years, but that lifestyle medicine can slow, stop or even completely reverse the progression of early stage prostate cancer, without drugs or surgery. As the collection of books listed here will show, these types of findings are common among all the common degenerative diseases that are devouring healthcare dollars today, because our treatments are ineffective.
Cardio-Vascular Disease (CVD)
The pioneers here are Drs. Dean Ornish and Caldwell Esselstyn. Esselstyn in particular received a whole lot of attention since Pres. Bill Clinton credited his program with saving his life and with his appearance in the documentary Forks over Knives. Ornish was the first to have his program, Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation, formally accepted by Medicare and many insurers and options are expanding all the time, such as with Dr. Robert Ostfeld’s Cardiac Wellness Program at Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx, and the new Plant-Based Lifestyle Medicine Program at Bellevue Hospital.
Diabetes (Type II primarily)
In diabetes care, the leading expert is no doubt Dr. Neal Barnard, though several others have contributed important work as well. The key concepts are that sugar is not per se the problem. Animal proteins, fats, and refined carbs are generally the problem. Complex carbs are helpful, it is the refined carbs that will set you back. So eat brown rice, whole fruits, but not refined sugar, etc. Again, Barnard’s material is the first place to look.
Dr. Brooke Goldner is the go-to source for Lupus at this moment.
Here is some major research on osteoarthritis, published on PMC: Whole-Foods, Plant-Based Diet Alleviates the Symptoms of Osteoarthritis.
Here is a very helpful video about a case of reversing prostate cancer with Dr. Neal Barnard doing the intro. Another famous source for the plant-based diet and cancer is the story of Chris Wark, which you can find on his website Chris Beat Cancer.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Dr. Saray Stancic is the authority on Multiple Sclerosis, by virtue of the fact that she herself completely reversed her MS with a #WFPB lifestyle, and eventually changed her practice to the field of lifestyle medicine. She also documented it with a recent movie, the Code Blue Documentary.
How to for patients
Evidently some specific support about your particular condition and symptoms is very worthwhile, so you get a realistic idea of what can be done and what to expect at every stage. The other side of that equation is the practicality of how to make the transition to a whole foods plant-based diet.
How to No. 1 – Understanding the theory
For me, it was of critical importance to understand how the model of plant-based nutrition came to be – that is what ultimately helped me to understand that this is a new nutritional paradigm and not just another diet. I had been a vegetarian at various times in my life, but I had never really learned anything about plant-based nutrition and in this area The China Study is really the seminal book, and once you get it, you get it. It absolutely clinched the deal for me, even when I was already transitioning. It was critical for me that the whole obsession over protein is complete nonsense.
How to No. 2 – Taking inventory
A practical tool for tracking how well we are doing with our diet is the 4Leaf Survey. It is a self-assessment of progress with your diet, which serves as a teaching tool at the same time, for it shows you implicitly how you can improve. There are of course objective clinical assessments, ranging from standard labs to assessments of the intestinal flora, all of which provide insight in how well we are doing with our diet. It is a given that our intestinal flora changes completely within three days after we become 100% plant-based and changes back again if we eat animal proteins for three days in a row. The advantage of the 4Leaf survey is of course that we can take it whenever we like.
How to No. 3 – Lifestyle Medicine Rx
This book, by Dr. Diane Thompson is aimed at those of us who are working on the transition to a whole foods, plant-based diet, and it includes a wide range of issues to pay attention to in our transition to a healthier lifestyle. It holds out the Whole Foods, Plant-Based diet as a goal, while allowing some wiggle room for how to get there, by gradually building down animal protein. Some people seem to need that, though for me it worked better to just make the decision one day and do it. It makes sense to allow people to do it at their own pace, though I wish there were more emphasis on the idea that you do not get the full benefit until you go 100% plant-based.
The most important contribution of this book is that it does a great job about exploring motivation and is very clear that if you just end up fighting yourself, you will not get there. The behavioral approaches, such as Doug L’Isle’s work, may be helpful in some ways in providing insight in the neuropsychological processes that tend to trap us in bad food habits, but this leaves you stranded and exacerbates the inner conflict. Dr. Thompson’s book points the way to transcending that conflict and successfully making the transition.