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Published on August 24th, 2013 | by Tanya Sitton

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Insurance Giant to Doctors: Recommend Plant-Based Diet!





doctor with fruits and veggies

In a startlingly reasonable development, health insurance monolith Kaiser Permanente urges physicians to make use of the abundant existing evidence regarding diet and disease prevention. Kaiser now encourages its 15,000 affiliated doctors to recommend a plant-based to all patients, “especially those with high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or obesity.”

The article titled Nutritional Updates for Physicians: Plant-Based Diets reflects an atypical approach within the modern Western health care system, but one long past due: it encourages HEALTH care, rather than disease management. While Kaiser’s motives are likely all about the bottom line — less disease treatment means less expenditures for insurance companies — the resulting recommendations represent significant and actual progress in the right direction.

With extensive data citations and research review, article authors conclude that a plant-based diet offers real, tangible, and cost effective intervention for preventing and treating (distressingly common) health problems — as bonus content, they also thoroughly address frequently-held misconceptions about protein, iron, and calcium that many (omni) doctors may have.

Contrary to both what you might expect and what would make sense, most physicians barely get any training at all in human nutrition; so articles like this one appearing in medical journals are a big deal, in terms of facilitating improved understanding of plant-based health approaches within the medical community.

The article published in the Spring 2013 edition of the peer-reviewed Permanente Journal, but only recently crossed my path and made me feel cautiously optimistic.

In this era of epidemic lifestyle-driven disease, corporate takeover of democracy, antibiotic resistance, rampant farm-animal cruelty, global climate change, and generally discouraging news on far to many fronts, cautious optimism (on those rare occasions when it crops up) seems worth sharing.

Maybe — just maybe — the medical establishment is slowly dabbing a toe into the food revolution tide, and coming to terms with the possibility of change…

Come on in, you guys, the water’s fine!

Food and health image via Shutterstock.

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About the Author

is an ecovore, veganist, messy chef, green girl, food revolutionary, and general free-thinkin' rabble-rouser. M.S. in a health profession, with strong interests in biology, nutrition, and healthy living - find her on .



  • jackie

    It now makes sense, when I was interested in vitamin D3 and B12 information I talked to a few people in the medical field and they were not very helpful.

    After many hours of research on the internet I gained an awareness that good health is all about a healthy lifestyle.

    Thanks for the article.

  • dulrich

    Jackie, D3 and B12 are important to have adequate amounts of in your diet. However it is important to know that the reason they are scarce in our diet is because of modern sanitation and life styles. If humans still lived as our ancestors did running around mostly naked in the sun and drinking ground water and eating unwashed vegetables we would not have any trouble getting all of these nutrients. If you spend a lot of time outside with skin showing you are getting enough D3. If not there are good vegan D3′s on the market. As for B12 just take the pill. It is inexpensive and worth every penny. In fact there is evidence that B12 is not fully bio-available from meat sources. Two different research projects came to the same conclusions. approximately 40% of Americans are deficient in B12 since less than 5% of Americans eat a mostly or fully plant based diet, The numbers do not add up that Meat is a reliable source of B12. It is good that you are doing your research, keep it up. It is all about nutrition, and mostly except for protein which is better assimilated by the body if it comes from plant sources. There is nothing which eating meat can add to a healthy diet.

    • http://glueandglitter.com/main Becky Striepe

      FWIW, if you’re vegan you want to look for D2, because D3 is animal-based.

      • jackie

        Becky,

        I am neither 100% vegan or meat eater. I love fruits and vegatables, I can eat watermelon and strawberries all day for a month but I like a good ribeye, medium well, or beef and chicken soups. All in moderation.

        My interest is in vitamin D3 because of all the benefits to our autoimmune system. Cancers, diabetes, brittle bone, thyroid and numerous other issues are raised when we are deficient this simple vitamin.

        Thanks for the information.

        • http://www.progressivekitch.com Tanya Sitton

          Jackie, I have to take issue with the whole ‘moderation’ justification, when it’s applied to violent acts…

          http://eatdrinkbetter.com/2013/01/30/the-moderation-trap/

          And I strongly recommend the book ‘Whole,’ if you’re working within a reductionist nutrition framework — ie, if you’re thinking one isolated nutrient (D3 vs plant-based diet) controls expression of the disease processes you mention…

          http://eatdrinkbetter.com/2013/07/06/book-review-whole-rethinking-the-science-of-nutrition/

          Please do check out the research links cited by the meta analysis of health research and plant-eating, in the Kaiser report… it’s pretty well documented that Kaiser’s veggie recommendations help health outcomes, especially regarding our most common killer diseases of American adults — via peer reviewed medical research, not just food-enthusiast bloggers like myself. :)

          You can supplement B12 and D (in some climates, if needed), or you can take statins and insulin: and based the outcome evidence, one approach works WAY better than the other!

          I work in an subacute care medical facility, and have seen many patients with B12 and D deficiency — none of whom were vegan. Usually in this country deficiencies are related to medical problems inhibiting absorption, not inadequate consumption. Anyone who tells you differently is selling something.

          I think a lot of times, we try to justify what we already do, or what we want to do — that’s less stressful than changing longstanding habits. I understand gravitating towards habit, but don’t find it a compelling strategy to navigate the world when it contradicts evidence and supports unnecessary violence.

          So I, for one, am glad the medical establishment is starting to act on the steadily accumulating data, and recommend a diet that clearly offers health benefits (with less optional violence as a bonus)!

          That’s how it looks to me, anyway…

          Thanks for chiming in.

          Cheers,
          Tanya

  • Pingback: Kaiser Permanente to Doctors: Recommend Plant-Based Diet | Doug-at-Large

  • http://www.fullyalivetoday.com Lisa C

    Nice website! We’re pretty excited about the KP abstract also! I thought you might be interested in what’s going on with regards to the authors – they are both speaking at the inaugural North American Plant-based Healthcare Conference in Naples, FL this October, along with many other notable physicians in the field of plant-based nutrition. It just might be that doctors and allied health providers are starting to get the message that disease care cannot be sustained any longer! Discount for the conference applies until Labor Day – Hope to see you there! http://www.pbnhc.com

    • http://www.progressivekitch.com Tanya Sitton

      HMMMMM, you don’t say?!… duly noted! … wonder if they wanna fly any food journalists down to cover it?… say, from the DC or Atlanta areas, perhaps… hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…. ;-)

      Thanks for the info — and thanks for reading. Woot for progress, and woot for plant-based health!

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