Category Archives: Preventative Care

Why I Eat a Plant Based Diet

In about April 2015 I decided to stop eating animal products.  For the previous year or two my son had become a vegan, and I listened to his reasoning for his life-style changes.  At first I was turned off by what I thought were his overly extreme positions on animal cruelty, environmental concerns, and initially his advocacy of an all-raw vegan diet.  As time went by though Kay and I cut more and more meat and dairy from our diets, and finally we decided to make the plunge.  My reasoning was two-fold. By far the most important was health.  I am  convinced that eating a plant based diet that is low in fat and highly processed foods is the healthiest way to eat.  I am convinced that this way of eating can reduce the risk of and prevent many cases of heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and obesity.  In addition I am convinced that one of the primary causes  (arguably the primary cause) of our current environmental crises with global warming and the ozone layer shrinkage is animal husbandry.  Clearing vast swarths of our planets natural areas to produce food for cattle and to graze livestock, the huge methane release from ungulate feces and belching, the overfishing of our oceans, and the disaster that is mass-pork production has significantly contributed to the current state of our planet.  I was prompted to write this post after reading about Dr. Kim Allen Williams advocacy of a plant based diet.

Dr. Williams was the president of the American College of Cardiology in 2015-2016, and is the head of the Rush University School of Medicine.  He has been eating plant based since 2003 when he noted his LDL cholesterol was getting higher, and when he stopped eating animal products it dropped dramatically.  More recently he has been an outspoken advocate of plant based eating, and in a speech to the Food=Medicine Conference in 2015 he stated:

“There are two kinds of cardiologist: Vegans and those who have not read the data.

For more information see a link to “the data” on a blog post by Dr. Williams in the American College of Cardiology In Touch Blog.

For a good summary of his positions see the NY TImes article, Advice from a Vegan Cardiologist.

If he, in his position, can strongly advocate for plant-based eating, then I can too.  It is not difficult to eat a plant based diet. The trick is to substitute healthy plant-based foods for animal products.  That too is not complicated, but requires some degree of discipline.  Try to eat more fruit, vegetables and unprocessed grains, nuts, and seeds.  Use the convenient more processed foods as add-ins to the diet rather than a primary source of caloric intake. Most of all do the best you can.  Any steps toward major reduction in animal product intake is a step in the right direction.  Consider flexitarian eating, where you eat plant based most of the time but occasionally consume animal products if you are not ready for the commitment to eat fully plant based.  as Nike would say, Just Do It!

A Better Approach to Diet for Type 2 Diabetes

For years I’ve sent my newly diagnosed and poorly controlled patients with type 2 diabetes to diabetes education classes.  There they are taught many helpful skills, including how to test their blood sugars at home, how to watch for complications of diabetes like foot ulcers and infections, and a big focus is on how to… Continue Reading

Blood Pressure: How Low is Low Enough

A new clinical trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine called the SPRINT Trial ( Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial ) which compares standard treatment of hypertension to a goal of a systolic BP < 140 compared to more aggressive treatment to a goal of systolic BP <120 was published on Nov. 9,… Continue Reading

Editorial on PSA Screening for Prostate Cancer

If you’ve been following this blog for a while you may have noted a number of posts on the dilemma of overdiagnosis and PSA screening for prostate cancer.  We used to thing that all cancers has a common characteristic that once established they inexorably progressed, eventually becoming symptomatic and often lethal.  We now know that… Continue Reading

WHO: Red Meat, especially Processed Meat Causes Cancer

Although I believe the findings in the WHO report the conclusion of the WHO that eating processed meat, and even eating meat at all, causes cancer this information adds very little to my reasons not to eat meat. Some of you may recall from a prior post that I chose to eat a plant based diet… Continue Reading

The Mammograms or Not in Women 40-49 Controversy

As usual Dr. Kenny Lin, a former USPSTF member and prolific writer of “common sense” articles writes on how emotions rule rather than evidence and data when it comes to how people feel about breast cancer Check out his article: Countering the too neat narrative on screening mammography. Here are a couple of snippets for… Continue Reading

USPSTF “Strong” Recommendations for Preventative Services.

This article is the second in a series on the USPSTF recommendations to health care providers and U.S. residents on recommendations for preventative care services.  The previous article listed 16 “D” recommendations, i.e. things you should not do in an attempt to prevent health problems.  In that article I selected the most relevant “D”: recommendations,… Continue Reading

Bill Maher’s Illogical Thoughts on Vaccinations

I’m visiting my mother-in-law and so Friday night we watched Real Time with Bill Maher and I enjoyed watching satire of the news from the left side.  I recently visited my Dad and endured Fox Network’s Justice w/Judge Jeanine so Maher seemed like a Rhode’s Scholar in comparison to Ms. Pirro.  Much of what Mr. Maher… Continue Reading

Why Wait Until 60 for your Shingles Vaccine?

In 2011 Merck received FDA approval to administer Zostavax (Herpes Zoster/ shingles vaccine) in patients age 50-59.  Since 2006 Zostavax has been approved for patients age 60 and older.  So why should you wait until 60 to get shingles vaccine? I wondered this and on reading the ACIP update on Zoster Immunization released this August… Continue Reading

Pneumonia Vaccination Is More Complex but Better Than Ever

In my 30+ years as a family physician I’ve seen first hand the effects of a relatively new type of vaccines called conjugate polysaccharide vaccinations. In the 1980’s nearly every year I had one or more young children in the hospital with meningitis due to either Hemophyllus influenza B or Streptococcus pneumoniae.  Now there are… Continue Reading