In this blog PCRI presents an article from guest contributor, Jim Gourley.
Last post I wrote about a whole foods, plant-based diet as an eating strategy which is perhaps better than exercise for its positive health benefits. Because people’s needs differ in terms of the type of information/support needed to implement a plant-based eating strategy, this post I follow up with all things plant-based. I include the most influential individuals; a couple of super stars; books/movies; and other helpful resources like bloggers, culinary instructors, nutritionists and even how to find a plant-based restaurant or a plant-based nutrition minded physician.
PLANT-BASED NUTRITON NOTABLE PEOPLE
If you Google any of these names you’ll add to your knowledge and understanding of plant-based nutrition: Michael Greger, MD; Joel Fuhrman, MD; John McDougall, MD; Caldwell Esselstyn, MD; Rip Esselstyn; Dean Ornish, MD; Neal Barnard, MD; T. Colin Campbell, PhD; Michael Klaper, MD; David Katz, MD; Joel Kahn, MD; Robert Ostfeld, MD; Julieanna Hever, MS, RD; Milton Mills, MD; Rich Roll and John Robbins.
SUPER STARS: MICHAEL GREGER & JOEL FUHRMAN
Michael Greger is the super star of plant-based eating due to the quality, quantity and variety of information he produces on a regular basis. What makes his website, nutritonfacts.org, such an outstanding resource is the abundance of high-quality useful information, the ease of access to information and the variety of usable formats available – and all from a non-profit site. Nutritionfacts.org is a first stop and a must stop to learn about the scientific details behind whole food, plant-based eating. The show case of the Nutritonfacts.org site are the free, short, bite-size videos (5 minutes) on over two thousand health and nutrition topics which are available in English or Spanish. Videos are easily searched for by topic and, if you join the email list, you will receive a new video nearly every week day. If you prefer a text format, you can also choose to access the video transcripts. All scientific study abstracts, for all sources cited in each video, can be instantly accessed as well. See here for the research and preparation that goes into the production of each video on the site. Also, don’t miss the longer duration year-in-review videos for their wealth of information – an example is here. Podcasts and text blogs are also regularly produced and are available on the website. If you prefer information in book format, Dr. Greger’s book, How Not to Die is a best seller and not to be missed. This month (December 2017) a follow up cookbook was released and it is a favorite of the New York Times book review.
Joel Fuhrman’s website provides one-stop shopping for all the plant-based eating tools or resources you will likely ever need: Books, cookbooks, text articles, recipes, videos, streaming videos, audios, webinars, community discussions, health retreats, health topic position papers and all kinds of other products and services. Although Dr. Fuhrman may get a point deducted, compared to Dr. Greger, because his site is decidedly for-profit, the fact is he’s a super star of plant-based eating due to his ability to put concepts into understandable and actionable form and for developing every possible tool, product or service to help us to easily eat in a whole foods, plant-based manner. Dr. Fuhrman’s term for whole foods, plant-based eating is a “Nutritarian Diet”, which helps to underscore the concept of nutrient density – the fact that plants, on a calorie for calorie basis, are the most nutritious foods on the planet. To help us make better food choices, he developed the ANDI food scoring system (see my last blog) which ranks foods by a numerical nutrient density score from 1 to 1000. He keeps priority food choices simple with his “G-BOMBS” acronym for foods we should eat every day for optimum health. “G-BOMBS” stands for: Greens, Beans, Onions, Mushrooms, Berries, and Seeds. Although his website is for-profit, he gets value-added points for including lots of free information like numerous articles and recipes – and for email list sign up to keep us informed of important developments, book releases, free articles & recipes, and other events.
Nearly every one of the notable people above have authored one or more books worth reading – indeed many have been best sellers. A quick reference for many of the most popular titles is here.
Joel Fuhrman has authored titles counting into the double digits; any of his recent books would likely be worthwhile. I particularly recommend his inexpensive Nutritarian Handbook & ANDI Food Scoring Guide for its brevity, value and amount of useful information.
Dean Ornish has published original plant-based eating research studies, as well as many books intended for the general public. He seems to be a frequent target for criticism from the paleo and low-carb (ketogenic) diet crowd, so his work is meaningful enough that it can’t be ignored.
T. Colin Campbell’s The China Study would be considered a classic by many.
Three movies that are popular, informative and easily accessed from streaming services are: Forks Over Knives; What the Health; and In Defense of Food.
PLANT-BASED FOOD BLOGGERS
Cathy Fisher, a culinary instructor at John McDougall’s clinic/program, has an excellent blog called straightupfood.com. In particular, her “resource” section is outstanding for its thoroughness.
Olivesfordinner.com is a very enjoyable site full of plant-based recipes, appealing photos and news about the happenings and people of the wider plant-based eating world. If you’re looking for additional plant-based bloggers, the “resource” section has links to many others.
PLANT-BASED CULINARY INSTRUCTORS AND COURSES
Nutritionist and culinary coach Katie Mae runs a website called plantzst.com and a brick and mortar “culinary gym” in Santa Rosa, California. She has a variety of helpful services including: 1-on-1 coaching consultations via phone or Skype; group classes; an online course called Plant-Based Cooking 101; and a very affordable recipe club where you receive 2 weekly recipes and also access to recipe and video archives and a plant-based ingredient library.
Rouxbe, which bills itself as “The world’s leading online culinary school” has partnered with the Plantrician Project (see below) to offer Culinary Rx, an online plant-based cooking and nutrition education course for $200. It looks well worth the investment.
Probably the most famous plant-based nutritionist is Los Angeles-based Julieanna Hever, MS, RD. She has enjoyed fairly extensive media exposure, authored plant-based medical journal articles and several books, including The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition. Her website, plantbaseddietitian.com, says she’s available for private consultations via email, phone, Skype, Face Time and Google Hangout. She is also available for weekly food journal assessment and meal planning. Her “Resource” section is also worth noting.
At Nakedfoodmagazine.com you can read many interesting articles or order a hard-copy Naked Food Magazine subscription.
Plantbasednews.org casts a very wide net over the plant-based eating world and allows you to keep up on all manner of news and information.
FIND A PLANT-BASED RESTAURANT
Happycow.net is a great resource to help find plant-based restaurants and stores. The site has information on other related topics as well as free recipes, a blog and newsletter.
Note on restaurant eating and food choices: If you wish to maximize health (or minimize risk), keep in mind that even plant-based restaurants don’t necessarily use the most healthful ingredients or cooking methods. For example, it’s currently popular for many plant-based chefs to smoke or char ingredients which creates carcinogenic compounds; use grilling over flame or other high-heat cooking methods which can create compounds which are carcinogenic and also other substances which contribute to organ and metabolic dysfunctions like diabetes; use pickled or salt-cured ingredients which are probable carcinogens; overly salt food which contributes to cardiovascular dysfunction and disease risk; and use fats like coconut oil which contribute to cardiovascular disease risk. And, if you have cardiovascular disease, many plant-based nutrition experts refer to research which shows that any refined or processed plant fat (as opposed to plant fats found in whole foods like, say, an avocado) will have an acutely negative affect on vascular function; this is one reason why experts like Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn advocate limiting or eliminating plant oils (even olive oil), for high-risk cardiovascular disease patients.
Los Angeles chef Mathew Kenney has a diverse and global influence on plant-based food via his own restaurants (like Plant Food + Wine in Venice), plant-based restaurant development and consulting, a plant-based chef’s culinary academy, on-line classes and in-person classes at his learning and development facility called Plant Lab. His blog will stimulate your appetite and he has also developed one of the best plant-based Food Pyramids I’ve ever seen – the concept of the food pyramid is to eat foods at the wide base of the pyramid frequently and foods at the narrow top more sparingly.
If you live in my home area of Santa Barbara, he is responsible for the menu development and chef training for the new plant-based restaurant called Oliver’s on Coast Village Road.
FIND PLANT-BASED NUTRITION MINDED PHYSICIANS AND ADVOCATE FOR CHANGE
I am impressed with The Plantrician Project as a wide-ranging resource! The non-profit Plantrician Project’s mission is to “educate and empower our physicians with knowledge about the benefits of plant-based nutrition … and provide them with resources…” They sponsor the International Plant-Based Nutrition Healthcare Conference and have lots of other free and useful information available on the site for everyone, not just physicians. Their “Learn” tab, which has many sub-heading, is outstanding – particularly the “Ultimate Plant-Based Nutrition Resource Portal” and “Books and Videos”, which I link to above in my “Books/Movies” section.
The American College of Lifestyle Medicine is a professional support organization for physicians and allied health professionals which focuses on lifestyle-based therapies and interventions; of which a whole foods, plant-based diet is a prominent aspect. It publishes the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, sponsors the annual Lifestyle Medicine Conference, offers many other educational resources and has a searchable database of plant-based minded physicians who are members.
I would suggest making your Primary Care Physician (PCP) aware of the Plantrician Project and The American College of Lifestyle Medicine – it might help you and others – and seems like the right thing to do to help balance Big Pharma’s influence on the medical profession. The Plantrician Project even has a form letter you can give to your physician to aid in this information sharing process which you can access through the “Take Action” tab. You might also give your PCP Julieanna Hever’s article Plant-Based Diets: A Physician’s Guide.
Jim Gourley has been a serious student of health and fitness his whole adult life, beginning with a BA in Health Studies from UCSB and later adding an MA in Exercise Science. He earned the first of his many fitness training certifications in 1985. For the last 15 years, he has partnered exclusively with age 50+ adults and seniors to improve their fitness, daily-life function, and body confidence. He is Santa Barbara’s most experienced fitness trainer, having a continuous full-time professional fitness training practice for the last 31 years. Medical professionals trust him with their patients, as he receives referrals from doctors and physical therapists. He is lucky and blessed to be a cancer survivor, with lots of exposure to the medical profession, and his clients tell him he always has good advice regarding using and communicating with medical professionals. He is committed to learning new tools, techniques and skills to help his clients, so he regularly attends professional seminars.