Going Plant-Based is the New Prescription, Says Nation’s Leading Physicians

Going Plant-Based is the New Prescription, According to Nation's Leading Physicians
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A growing number of doctors are sending patients home with shopping lists these days instead of drug prescriptions. They’re recommending that their patients fill their shopping carts with more plant-based foods for optimal health and disease prevention, instead of pills.

“A number of mainstream medical groups now endorse vegetarian (or vegetarian-ish) diets, including the American Cancer Society, the American Institute for Cancer Research, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and, over protests from the meat industry, the USDA group that issues dietary guidelines,” reports Mother Jones. “In 2014, the American College of Cardiology elected its first ever vegan president, Dr. Kim A. Williams. In 2013, Kaiser Permanente, the nation’s largest healthcare network, asked its physicians to suggest a plant-based diet to their patients. Just this week, the American Medical Association passed a resolution recommending that hospitals offer patients non-meat meals.”

There’s enough science to back up the shift toward a plant-based diet. One recent study found that out of a number of current diet trends, the only one showing significant health benefits was the plant-based diet. Mother Jones points to a study published last year that found a significantly decreased risk of dying from heart disease when protein came from non-meat sources.

And another recent study found vegetarian diets to be most effective in reducing body weight compared to typical caloric-restriction diets. The study, published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, looked at subjects with type-2 diabetes. Some were randomly assigned a vegetarian diet while others ate a mostly conventional low-calorie diet. Over the course of six months, the vegetarian diet group lost double the weight the conventional diet group lost  (more than 13 pounds for the vegetarians).

“This finding is important for people who are trying to lose weight, including those suffering from metabolic syndrome and/or type 2 diabetes,” lead study author Dr. Hana Kahleová said in a statement. “But it is also relevant to anyone who takes their weight management seriously and wants to stay lean and healthy.”

The researchers also noted metabolism experienced a bigger boost on the plant-based diet than the control group.

The findings mirror the results of the most well-known research on the longterm adherence to a plant-based diet, “The China Study” research project led by renowned health expert, Dr. T. Colin Campbell.

Other recent research put to rest the myth that animal protein is superior to plant protein for muscle building, showing muscle growth was nearly identical whether the subject ate animal or plant protein. It was the amount of protein, not source, that had the impact on muscles.

U.S. News and World Report also recently ranked the plant-based diet as the best diet for the seventh straight year, citing its numerous health and environmental benefits.

Consuming a plant-based diet is significantly better for the planet as research continues to point to the negative environmental impact from livestock production, particularly beef and dairy products.

“I am being invited to speak about [the plant-based diet] at mainstream medical conferences about diabetes and heart diseases,” Dr. James Loomis, an internist who directs the Barnard Medical Center in Washington, D.C., told Mother Jones. “That never would have happened five years ago.”

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Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites OrganicAuthority.com and EcoSalon.com, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better. www.jillettinger.com.