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Combatting Rising Health Care Costs with Nutrition?

Medical researchers are advising physicians to strongly advocate for plant-based diets as a cost effective intervention to combat rising health care costs.

A special report published The Permanente Journal states that unhealthy lifestyle choices are contributing to the spread of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The article stresses the importance of limiting meats, dairy and eggs as well as refined and processed foods, and recommends that all physicians consider talking to their patients about adopting a healthy plant-based diet.  A plant-based diet includes a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, and unprocessed soy products such as tofu, tempeh and soy milk.

The report also suggests that physicians often shy away from discussing nutrition with their patients and are quick to prescribe medications.  Rising health care costs, in terms of prescription drugs and surgical procedures, suggest that focusing on preventive approaches such as healthy lifestyle choices can make a significant difference.

Researchers recommend that physicians receive education on nutrition and plant-based diets; encourage hospitals and cafeterias to serve plant-based meals; and advocate for plant-based diets as the first step of treatment for weight management, diabetes and heart-related issues such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

The Food & Nutrition Services team at WakeMed Cary Hospital is proud to report that we implemented Meatless Monday this January, and our cafeteria serves entrées, sandwiches and salads using healthy plant-based recipes.  We also serve meatless options on other days of the week.

Read the entire journal article for more information.

Parul Kharod, MS, RD, LDN, is a clinical dietitian at WakeMed Cary Hospital and the state coordinator for the Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  With questions regarding plant-based diets or vegetarian nutrition, contact Parul at  To schedule individual nutrition counseling sessions, call Cary Hospital Outpatient Nutrition Services at: 919-350-2358.