If you’re already aware of the overwhelming evidence showing the power of a plant-based diet to prevent and treat chronic diseases such as CVD (cardiovascular disease), do you ever wonder why on earth your family doctor, oncologist or cardiologist don’t recommend making simple dietary changes?
A big part of the answer is to do with human nature. Those qualified in modern medicine will have spent almost a decade studying pharmaceutical and surgical solutions and spent only a few academic hours looking at diet – even though overwhelming evidence has existed for over a century that dietary changes can prevent, halt and even reverse some chronic diseases.
If you’d devoted time, effort and money to qualifying as a medical expert in the above way, you wouldn’t want to be told that diseases like CVD, cancer, hypertension, obesity and diabetes can be avoided and dealt with by simply swapping broccoli for your bacon and eggs!
I came across the reality of this in practice quite recently while spending time in hospital as my mother was dying of urinary sepsis with other nasty complications – largely related to poor dietary and exercise choices. Chatting with nurses and doctors reaffirmed my suspicion that those “looking after” our health are more or less ignorant of all the research relating to plant-based diets and their power in preventing and treating disease. They go along with it to a certain extent (“…eat more fruit and veg and less red meat“) but treat any further claims as a joke.
Does this surprise you? If not, then maybe it’s more shocking than if it did surprise you.
Have we become so passive in our acceptance of the ignorance of those to whom we entrust the health of our loved ones that we just expect them – our doctors and surgeons – to continue handing out statins while not even enquiring about why the patient is obese? Offering stents and bypass surgery rather than advising the patient to replace the meat, dairy and eggs with beans, fruit and nuts? Worse than this, they are totally dismissive, and have even been known to refuse treatment, if the patient wants to try WFPB before having their chest ripped open and radioactive chemicals injected into their veins.
Sometimes, I slip into the above passivity and resign myself to the fact that we “WFPBers” are simply out of sync with the world. But at other times, a wave of outrage overwhelms me – particularly when I see a hospital ward full of elderly people who are dying ahead of time because of horrible diseases that could have been largely avoided if only their medical experts had advised them decades ago to cut out the foods that will damage their bodies.
I have studied and written about paradigms. The current medical paradigm involves a reductionist approach to research and treatment. I understand, therefore, that each successive generation of newly-qualified doctors has to appease their superiors and adhere to the methods and approaches they were taught.
I understand that there is much more emphasis on reductionist research rather than on population-wide research – the former is very specific and attracts huge funding; the latter can appear wishy-washy and so attracts almost no funding.
I know it’s human nature to do what you’re told. To practice a profession or trade in the way you were taught, even if there is new information that contradicts the “accepted” tenets you had drilled into your head during your hard-earned education. Equally, it’s clear that young doctors have to tow the line and not contradict their superiors or rock the boat with new ideas. And who would want to spend years training as a cardiologist to then find down the line that there were not enough patients to treat because people were eating foods that kept their hearts healthy?
There’s also the “hypocrisy barrier” to overcome. Which doctor can advise a patient to go home and eat beans and greens when they themselves are likely to pop in for burger on the way home? And this is not a trivial matter. Cast you mind back to how difficult it must have been for doctors to advise patients to quit smoking when they had their own packet of Benson & Hedges on the desk, sitting next to the stethoscope.
Financial profit within the paradigm of the current medical system cannot come from making people too healthy. It requires us to be ill – not too dead but also not too alive.
I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and to bid defiance to the laws of their country. —THOMAS JEFFERSON
And doctors who advocate a plant-based diet – how do they make a living in the our pharmaceutical-led health system? Where’s the profit in giving your patients a prescription to eat more fruit and veg and cut out animal and processed foods?
One of the greatest levers of power we have as individuals in our digital world is to access and read the facts-based research – past, present and future – that vindicates plant-based nutrition as a major solution to most of our chronic diseases. It’s all there on Pubmed, a continually-updated resource of published and peer-reviewed research papers from around the world, including an increasing number that relate to the benefits of a plant-based diet.
And this is the wonderful thing about the WFPB movement – hyperbole is not required. The facts speak for themselves. There is a wealth of research showing the health benefits of simple dietary change. But, unfortunately, for the vast majority of the medical profession, “simple” or “wholistic” solutions (even though shown to be highly effective) do not have the credibility of the more traditional pharmaceutical and surgical approaches which are not appearing to reduce the numbers of people ballooning in size and decaying from within.
It would be far too simplistic to put our health epidemic down to the toxic food choices we are being led to make – even if it were a completely credible explanation.
We need to make a fresh start and take a proactive approach to healthcare instead of a reactive one. We wait to be ill before the medical profession is interested in us. And even when the early stages of disease are detected, pills and potions are recommended as a knee-jerk response, rather than advising timely dietary and lifestyle changes.
We are dealing with the symptoms and not the cause. It’s like going to the doctor with a bad headache because we keep banging it against the wall. The doctor hands us paracetamols and advises the use of an expensive crash helmet, rather than calmly advising us to just stop the head-banging.
Doctors are the clergy for a secular age. —Dr T Colin Campbell
A single publication by Dr Kim A Williams et al is outlined below. It re-emphasises the need for the medical profession to take seriously the assertion that plant-based diets are a key adjunct in the prevention and treatment of diseases such as CVD. The list of research associated with this publication is also listed below.
Plant-Based Nutrition: An Essential Component of Cardiovascular Disease Prevention and Management. October 2017.
Major points from the research abstract:
- Discussion of nutrition and the benefits of a plant-based diet should be highlighted during healthcare provider visits as an essential part of the overall CVD prevention and management care plan.
- Evidence from prospective cohort studies indicates that a high consumption of predominantly plant-based foods, such as fruit and vegetables, nuts, and whole grains, is associated with a significantly lower risk of CVD.
- The protective effects of these foods are likely mediated through their multiple beneficial nutrients, including mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidant vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, fibre, and plant protein.
- Minimising intake of animal proteins has been shown to decrease the prevalence of CVD risk factors.
- Substantial evidence indicates that plant-based diets can play an important role in preventing and treating CVD and its risk factors.
- Such diets deserve more emphasis in dietary recommendations.
It may be worth your while spending a little while scanning through the list of research papers below (some particularly relevant ones marked in red type) and, if you have a spare hour or two, delve a little deeper into some of the research that already shows both the damage caused by an animal food-based diet and the health-giving power of a plant-based diet.
It’s great to see luminaries such as Dr Williams passing on the advice of a very wise old medical expert, who said centuries ago “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine thy food.”
(Taken from the above-mentioned publication by Dr Kim A Williams et al.)
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