Should Doctors Prescribe Plants?

Finally, the medical establishment is recognizing that a plant-based diet could be an effective means of treating and preventing conditions ranging from high cholesterol to cancer. Kaiser Permanente, one of the largest health care organizations in the Vibrant purple and green cabbageUnited States, recently released an update recommending that their entire network of physicians—that’s more than 17,000 doctors!—recommend a health, plant-based diet to their patients.

But will those physicians put it into practice?

Why Doctors Recommend Drugs Instead of a Plant-Based Diet

Despite the wealth of evidence supporting a whole-food, plant-based diet as an effective, safe, and affordable way to prevent and even reverse ailments, many doctors don’t discuss nutrition with their patients. Why? The reason may not be what you think.

Certainly the pharmaceutical industry is one factor that influences our doctors. Health care professionals can make tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars on top of their normal salary simply by promoting certain drugs. It’s quite possible, however, that the real reason doctors often avoid discussing dietary interventions is something else entirely.

When It Comes to Nutrition, Doctors Deem Themselves “Inadequate”  

Study after study has shown the powerful, far-reaching effects of diet on your overall health—but the curriculum at most medical schools does not adequately cover this vital topic. A national survey indicated that on average, medical students in the United States receive only 19.6 hours of nutritional instruction over the course of their entire medical school career! Doctors themselves are aware of the issue, too. When asked about their nutrition knowledge, a majority stated that it was “inadequate” and that they lacked the training necessary to offer nutritional guidance to their patients.

Hopefully medical schools will revise their curriculum to devote more time to nutrition, but in the meantime, The Plantrician Project is here to help.

Teaching Doctors to Use Food as Medicine 

The Plantrician Project’s mission is to educate physicians about the health-promoting impact of a plant-based lifestyle. “I saw that there was no good location or conference for doctors to learn the information they needed to start teaching their patients to utilize food as medicine,” said Dr. Scott Stoll, Plantrician Project Co-founder, Board Chairman, and Chief Medical Officer. To remedy that, the Project puts on an annual International Plant-Based Health Conference where they offer continuing medical education credits for physicians, nurses, and dieticians. Topics addressed at past conferences include the science behind plant-based nutrition, techniques for helping patients to change health behaviors, and cooking techniques.

Attendees have responded enthusiastically! They’ve begun spreading the word among their colleagues. After attending the inaugural conference, Staton Awtrey, M.D., and his wife Blythe Awtrey, R.N, asked Stoll to attend Grand Rounds at Midland Memorial Hospital in Texas where they both work. The talk sparked such widespread interest and excitement among the physicians that Midland Memorial became the first hospital in the state to promote a plant-based diet as a treatment approach.

Thanks to the efforts of the Plantrician Project, physicians and healthcare providers are getting access to the knowledge they need to counsel their patients on the remarkable benefits of choosing a whole-food, plant-based lifestyle.