Research indicates that disease prevention and surgical recovery are improved when supported by proper nutrition.1,2 However, clinicians are rarely offered even basic nutritional training in medical and osteopathic school, a study of incoming pediatric residency interns showed.3 Perhaps unsurprisingly, many patients do not have optimal nutrition,4 are experiencing record levels of chronic disease,5 and are most likely being treated with pharmaceuticals, despite the availability of other highly effective options.6,7
When high-quality nutrition is applied effectively and consistently, it can prevent future chronic disease in adolescents,8 enhance cognition in people with dementia,9 and improve outcomes in patients receiving colorectal and GI oncological surgeries,10 to name a few. Moreover, in patients who have hospital stays for any reason, nutrition support is associated with fewer infectious complications and shorter lengths of stays.1
Chronic diseases account for the majority of health concerns in middle-aged and older populations,11 and many of these conditions respond well to nutritional interventions. Risks of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease are strongly linked to lifestyle, especially dietary choices.12,13
A 2018 study in the journal Nutrition found that a wider implementation of plant-based eating (specifically a Mediterranean-style diet and/or a diet with a daily portion of soy-containing foods) would lead to improved health outcomes.14 There are a variety of approaches for plant-based eating, from Mediterranean-type diets to vegetarian and vegan diets. Plant-based diets aim to maximize the consumption of nutrient-dense plant foods (vegetables, fruits, beans, peas, lentils, and nuts) and minimize processed foods, oils, and animal foods (including dairy and eggs).12 Yet despite the strong body of evidence favoring plant-based diets, including studies showing a willingness of the general public to embrace them, many physicians are not
In this video, IFM educator Michael Stone talks about Functional Nutrition and how clinicians can use high-quality foods that are rich in phytonutrients to address their patients’ clinical imbalances:
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