10 Mar 2017

A Whole-Foods, Plant-Based Diet

After being requested to write about a plant-based diet, I wondered how to encapsulate this diet—the most delicious, vibrant, juicy way to promote health—into a brief piece? So this will lead to more installments, as it is a topic too good to contain in one post.

Eating is something we all do, and there are tons of opinions out there about the right way to do it. As a Physician Nutrition Specialist, my own dietary recommendations come from a place of scientific evidence. The undeniable, overwhelming preponderance of that evidence is that eating from the plant kingdom is one of the best ways to promote health and to prevent, arrest, and often treat chronic illnesses such as obesity, dementia, arthritis, heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease, cancer, gallstones, and more. Also, it has become clear in nutrition science that a focus on broad dietary patterns (“eat a whole-foods, plant-based diet”) is more helpful than focusing on micronutrients (“try to get vitamin C”) and macronutrients (“eat this much protein, fat, and carbohydrate”).

When I encourage a whole-foods, plant-based diet, I ask people not to worry about protein, carbs, or fat: beautiful fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts, and seeds have that all figured out for us. For the big question—“where do you get your protein?”—I share that according to the World Health Organization we need 5-10% of our calories from protein, and plant foods fill that need perfectly without worrying about it. Spinach is 49% protein, kale is 22%, oats are 14%, beans range from 20-35%—you get the picture. Eat a range of plant foods in the course of the day and you will consume plenty of protein. It’s a lovely thing.

In terms of vitamins and minerals, people on a plant-based diet are getting a regular infusion of the estimated 100,000 beneficial compounds in the plant kingdom, including plentiful calcium and iron. Only B12 needs to be supplemented; it is made by bacteria in dirt which grazing animals eat but we don’t.

I have helped hundreds of people try a plant-based diet for three weeks to experience it firsthand: see Dr. Neal Barnard’s book 21 Day Kickstart for a sense of this. A plant-based, whole-foods diet is a healthful way to eat at all stages of life: pregnancy, breastfeeding, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, seniorhood, and for athletes. Stay tuned—and feel free to email me at sally.fisher@sunrisesprings.com if there are particular subjects within this topic you want covered!

Sally Fisher at Sunrise Springs near Santa Fe New Mexico SpaDr. Sally Fisher specializes in evidence-based integrative and nutritional medicine and is Sunrise Springs’ Medical Director. Her desire and intention is to have those she works with feel deeply that she is fully present, with warmth, humor, and knowledge, as she helps people to explore ways of enhancing their health and wellness.