The American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) has announced the availability of a new 10-part series of research white papers on the benefits of a whole food, plant-predominant dietary lifestyle for treatment of multiple chronic conditions. The unique food-as-medicine collection is an evidence-based compilation resource for medical professionals treating patients with chronic diseases.
Lifestyle medicine is defined as the use of evidence-based lifestyle therapeutic intervention—including a whole-food, plant-predominant eating pattern, regular physical activity, restorative sleep, stress management, avoidance of risky substances, and positive social connection—as a primary modality, delivered by clinicians trained and certified in this specialty, to prevent, treat, and often reverse chronic disease. Lifestyle as a first-option treatment for chronic disease is commonly cited in clinical care guidelines.
While medical professional associations, government bodies, and stakeholder groups across the U.S. and Canada have their own emphasis and focus when it comes to lifestyle and dietary guidance, research in the series shows a common theme does emerge: Eating more unrefined, plant-based foods, such as a variety of minimally processed vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds is an important strategy in chronic disease prevention and treatment.
The series was developed by reviewing available evidence relevant to health effects of plant-based diets for a variety of conditions. Research summaries were synthesized with clinical implications and practical takeaways for providers using nutrition as part of treatment. Each paper in the series provides a comprehensive evidence guide on the state of research in the field which can support further learning, discussions with colleagues and provider-to-patient education. Additionally, the series is packaged with patient-facing educational resources to support successful adoption of a predominantly plant-based diet by patients.
The 10 parts of the series collection cover the following topics:
- Dietary quality: The highest quality dietary pattern that offers optimal nutrition, addresses nutrients of concern, and avoids excess calories and fat is one based predominantly on unrefined vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes
- Weight management and obesity: Plant-based diets help individuals to circumnavigate the obesogenic environment because of the lower calorie density of plant foods, which natural prevents overeating.
- Type 2 diabetes: Many studies suggest that plant-based diets may be a practical solution to both prevent and treat type 2 diabetes, with potential for medication reduction and remission.
- Cardiovascular disease: A plant-predominant diet can reduce risk for cardiovascular disease and yield cardio-protective results to control, manage and even improve cardiac symptoms.
- Chronic kidney disease: For those with CKD, a plant-based diet naturally lower in protein has been shown to help slow progression of kidney failure, minimize uremic toxicity, diminish proteinuria, and lower the risk of complications.
- Enteral nutrition: Plant-based enteral formulas are a well-tolerated option that can meet caloric requirements for patients with eating difficulties and offer high-quality nutrition for healing, gut health and to control inflammation.
- Reproductive cancers: Plant-based diets appear to reduce cancer risk by reducing animal protein and fat, particularly from red meat, as well as adding protective fiber and antioxidants to reduce recurrence rates.
- Autoimmune disease: Though millions suffer from various autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel diseases, rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes, diet can be a powerful aid Antioxidants and fiber from whole food plant-based diets can support healthy immune function as well as healthy weight loss.
- Longevity and quality of life: As demonstrated in the most long-lived populations, increased consumption of unrefined plant foods, and decreased intake of both animal and highly processed foods contribute towards increased longevity and reduced mortality.
- Nutrition recommendations and guidelines: Major medical professionals associations support consumption of a minimally-processed plant-predominant diet for protection against chronic diseases including diabetes, heart, kidney and gastrointestinal disease, as well as obesity and certain cancers.
“The Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, in its 2019 Global Burden of Disease Report, analyzed data from more than 190 countries and found that what people eat, and fail to eat, is the leading cause of disease and death, said ACLM President Cate Collings, MD, MS, FACC, DipABLM. “This series represents a broad compilation of evidence and tools for medical professionals who manage patients across the lifespan in both inpatient and outpatient settings. It is a must-have resource for both those newly interested and those well established in applying food as medicine in their clinical care.”
The series can be found at lifestylemedicine.org/plantbasednutrition.
To learn more about how to implement nutrition interventions, check out the continuing education and event opportunities at lifestylemedicine.org/education.