What Diet Should Doctors Advise?

In 2013, a Nutritional Update for Physicians, published in the official journal of Kaiser Permanente, the largest managed care organization in the United States, told their physicians that healthy eating may best be achieved with a plant-based diet, defined as a regimen that “encourages whole, plant-based foods and discourages meats, dairy and eggs as well as all refined and processed junk.”

The Update notes:

“too often, physicians ignore the potential benefits of good nutrition and quickly prescribe medications instead of giving patients a chance to correct their disease through healthy eating and active living. Physicians should therefore consider recommending a plant-based diet to all their patients, especially those with high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or obesity.”

The major downside described is that it may work a little too well. If people are on medications, their blood pressure or blood sugar could actually drop too low, so physicians may need to adjust medications or eliminate them altogether.

The report continues that “despite the strong body of evidence favoring plant-based diets, many physicians are not stressing the importance of plant-based diets as a first-line treatment for chronic illnesses. This could be because of a lack of physician awareness or a lack of patient education resources.” So Kaiser sought to change that. “Want to lose weight, feel better, improve, stabilize, or even reverse chronic disease, and get off some of your medications?” a Kaiser Permanente leaflet asks. “If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then a plant-based eating plan may be for you.”

Side-effects of a plant-based diet may include lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar; reversal or prevention of heart disease, our #1 killer; a longer life; a healthier weight; lower risk of diabetes; improvement of inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis; and a slowed progression of certain types of cancer. Kaiser offers tips to get started, such as meal plan ideas, and a list of online resources.

The paper ends with a familiar refrain: “further research is needed.” In this case, though, further research is needed to “find ways to make plant-based diets the new normal for our patients and employees.”

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live year-in-review presentations Uprooting the Leading Causes of DeathMore Than an Apple a Day, and From Table to Able.

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William C
William C4 months ago


Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne Rogers2 years ago


Sherry Kohn
Sherry K2 years ago

Many thanks to you !

Magdalena J.
Past Member 3 years ago

Thank you!

Julia Oleynik
Julia O3 years ago

Thank you for sharing:)

Nikki Davey
Nikki Davey3 years ago

A good balanced diet can work wonders. Avoid fads though.

James Maynard
James M3 years ago

My modified low-carb diet and
return to walking five or more
miles a day seems to be working
fine for me. Diets are very
individual and all a person's
particulars should be taken into

june t.
reft h3 years ago

I like the idea of the spirit happy diet, thanks Susan M.

donnaa d.
donnaa D3 years ago


Nimue Pendragon
Nimue Michelle P3 years ago

Most doctors know bugger all about nutrition. Present company excepted of course :) I rely on what I learned doing my uni degree about nutrition, cooking, etc. Vegan here :)