The other night at dinner, there was a discussion around the lack of whole food, plant-based doctors in our area and the question that rose was, what could we do to get more plant-based doctors in our area? Or what could we do given the lack of options in this area? That prompted another question, which was "Why do we need plant-based doctors?" The point of that question was that if we're living healthy, plant-based lives, then the only reason we might need a doctor would be if we fell out of a tree or something like that and broke a bone. Or we got in a car accident. Or we had some other major emergency that required immediate attention.
But as I thought about that, I thought there are other valid reasons that should cause us to visit the doctor. In our club, we have the disclaimer telling people that we don't offer medical advice and that people need to see their doctors for any medical situations. I make a similar statement on my blog page where I say that my readers should consult their physicians for any medical advice and before starting or stopping any dietary program. That's more than just a perfunctory statement made for the lawyers. It's what people should really do. It's what we should all do.
And going to a plant-based doctor is best because that is a doctor that will have a good understanding of what it is the patient is doing. And the doctor will be cognizant of the specific nutritional needs that a person who is whole food, plant-based might have. Believe it or not, depending on what we specifically eat, what our age is, what our genetics are and a host of other factors, we may not necessarily be getting, absorbing or converting nutrients the way we need to be getting, absorbing or converting them. There are a lot of reasons for this. Seniors over the age of 65 have some higher nutritional needs than middle aged people do, and yet at the same time, seniors over the age of 65 may not be getting, absorbing or converting those nutrients as they should be. Children have special needs. Athletes have special needs. Diabetics have special needs. The obese have special needs. We're all different. We all have our own individual needs.
And that's where a whole food, plant-based doctor comes in to play. One who knows that many plant-based food eaters may not be getting enough B-12 or DHA/EPA to stave off dementia or macular degeneration or D-3 or iodine or K-2. Those are some of the ones most of us should be cognizant of according to Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Dr. Joel Kahn, Dr. Michael Greger and Brenda Davis (to name a few). Believe it or not, children, pregnant women and seniors over the age of 65 have increased protein needs as well. For some, it may be necessary to pay attention to that.
Having a plant-based doctor and getting regular checkups can allow for testing that will ensure that our blood levels for these specific nutrients, and possibly others that the doctor may identify for our unique situation, are within acceptable and desirable ranges. If we don't see a doctor and do this then we run this risk of either not getting, absorbing or converting some important nutrients that we need. Or contrarily, we might self-take supplements to keep levels high and we may be dangerously taking too many supplements or supplementing with the wrong things.
So going to the doctor for colonoscopies and mammograms and prostate exams and colds and flu and broken bones is important and we don't necessarily need a plant-based doctor for those things, but we do need a plant-based doctor to monitor our health for the things that a plant-based diet can effect. We may feel healthy and we may look healthy on the outside, but some things can sneak up on us that we may not see or feel today. It just seems that if we're eating this way for our health then we should seek out the data that will better gauge for us how our health is doing.
And having a plant-based doctor would be the best solution for that. Unfortunately, in my area, I know of only one whole food, plant-based doctor and he is a concierge doctor. It seems that more and more doctors are going in that direction, and I understand why they do it. But it's hard for a patient who doesn't get sick to justify the annual expense of a concierge doctor. Perhaps, we could encourage the plant-based doctors to waive or lighten up on their concierge fees for those patients who never get sick. Just a thought!
J Lanning Smith
Twice the Man, Half the Weight
January 23, 2019