With rising heath-care costs, doctors seek ways to help their patients turn around the ill effects of their unhealthy lifestyles of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, explains the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
“Physicians looking for cost-effective interventions to improve health outcomes are becoming more involved in helping their patients adopt healthier lifestyles. Healthy eating may be best achieved with a plant-based diet, which we define as a regimen that encourages whole, plant-based foods and discourages meat, dairy products, and eggs, as well as all refined and processed foods,” the NIH explains.
“Research shows that plant-based diets are cost-effective, low-risk interventions that may lower body mass index, blood pressure, blood glucose, and cholesterol levels. They may also reduce the number of medications needed to treat chronic diseases, and lower ischemic heart disease mortality rates.
“Physicians should consider recommending a plant-based diet to all their patients, especially those with high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or obesity,” the NIH recommends.
How to start a plant-based diet? Maximize consumption of nutrient-dense plant foods, while minimizing processed foods, oils, and animal foods, including dairy and eggs. The NIH encourages eating lots of cooked and raw vegetables, fruits, beans, peas, lentils, soybeans, seeds, and nuts.
Plant-based diets are nutrient dense, nourishing the body with vitamins and stomach-filling fiber. The NIH adds, “We can’t cure chronic diseases, but we may be able to prevent and control them by changing how we eat.”
A sample day’s menu could contain a slice of whole grain toast spread with almond butter, a strawberry/spinach smoothie; a lunch of lentil soup with a spring greens salad with broccoli, radishes, and a nut-based dressing; and for dinner, a vegetable quinoa pilaf with sweet potatoes, tomato bisque, and frozen bananas for dessert.