Doctor’s Tip: Kaiser understands power of healthy eating
Doctors in the U.S. get little or no training about nutrition in medical school. Medical education involves learning about procedures and pharmaceuticals to treat disease rather than preventing it.
Based on my 42 years in a group practice, attending weekly medical education meetings at Valley View Hospital, and in going to medical conferences in other parts of the state and country, I can tell you that with rare exception physicians don’t eat healthy food themselves. So it’s not surprising that they don’t tell their patients about the power of food in preventing and treating disease.
Over the past several decades, a huge, expensive system (e.g. hospitals, cardiac cath labs, cardiac bypass suites, myriad pharmaceuticals) has evolved to treat diseases that could be prevented if people were to simply adopt a healthier lifestyle. The system under which most physicians work and get paid stresses treatment rather than prevention.
The entity that does get the power of healthy eating is Kaiser Permanente, founded in 1945 and based in Oakland, California. With some 9.6 million members, it is the largest HMO in the U.S., with a presence in the District of Columbia and eight states, including Colorado. Kaiser is a nonprofit, and doctors are salaried. Members pay a flat rate to cover all their medical care, both outpatient and inpatient. Kaiser therefore has a financial incentive to keep their members well.
For the past few years Kaiser has been asking its health-care providers to encourage their patients to go on a plant-based, whole (unprocessed) food, low-fat diet, because of the proven science that supports this versus other diets. A friend recently gave me a Kaiser patient pamphlet from 2013 with the title “The Plant-Based Diet, a healthier way to eat.” The second page says that you are a candidate for this diet if you answer yes to any of the following questions:
• Do you want to lose weight?
• Do you want to feel better?
• Do you want to improve, stabilize or even reverse a chronic condition such as heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes or high blood pressure?
• Would you like to take fewer medications?
• Are you open to changing your diet if it could really improve your health?
Page 3 talks about the specific health benefits of this diet:
• Lower cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar.
• Reversal or prevention of heart disease.
• Longer life.
• Healthier weight.
• Lower risk of cancer and diabetes.
• Improved symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
• Fewer medications.
• Lower food costs.
• Good for the environment.
• Best of all, a plant-based diet can be a tasty and enjoyable way to eat.
There are several Kaiser facilities on the Front Range and an office in Edwards.
Dr. Feinsinger, who retired from Glenwood Medical Associates after 42 years as a family physician, now has a nonprofit Center For Prevention and Treatment of Disease Through Nutrition. He is available for free consultations about heart attack prevention and any other medical concerns. Call 970-379-5718 for an appointment. For questions about his columns, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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