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How a Plant-based Diet Saved This Doctor’s Career

A chance meeting with a patient taught me that veganism was right for my patients and my family.

Americans are fighting a losing battle with chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and heart disease. Add more than a decade of training, enormous amounts of debt, being trampled by insurance companies, a burdensome gluttony of healthcare administrators, skyrocketing healthcare costs, and punitive federal regulations, and it’s easy to understand how a doctor can begin to feel like he or she is burning out. When situations such as these occur, doctors can lose sight of why they entered medicine to begin with—which is to help people heal. I know this because I felt this way approximately five years ago, when an interaction with a patient changed my life forever. This patient told me she would have abdominal pain after eating meat and dairy, so I told her stop eating meat and dairy (a logical conclusion), but the fact that my advice would leave her with nothing but plants didn’t register in my brain. She returned a month later for a follow-up visit, and her 16-year-old daughter—who had changed her diet to support her mom—pulled herself off two ADHD medications in the 30 days of healthy plant-based eating. My mind went through all of the scientific knowledge I had accumulated from years of education and experience, and still I had no answer as to how or why this could have happened. What I did know was that my patient and her daughter’s newfound health kindled a new spark within me, one of excitement and curiosity. Soon, I was asking myself, “Could eating plants actually have done this?”
 
The truth revealed
Once I began my odyssey of discovering how plants had helped this teenager, it didn’t take long for me to realize that the answer was much larger, infinitely more wild, and unbelievable. First, I understood that even though I had received a fantastic medical education (one that served me well when I was deployed to the Middle East with the United States Air Force and to care for acutely ill patients in the hospital), I had a huge hole in my education. That hole was called “nutrition.” Second, I discovered a vast amount of credible science had been boasting the value of a plant-based diet for decades! Why on earth had I not been aware of this incredible information? More importantly, I realized that my career and personal life were about to make a serious pivot. I went home and changed the diet of my family of five literally overnight. My husband went on to lose 65 pounds, and we both feel amazing!
 
Who teaches the doctors?
As a doctor, I always want to be prepared for any possible scenario or question that a patient might have. Therefore, I began searching for any education that might afford me the techniques and knowledge to pass onto patients. And in early 2012, I am sad to say I did not find anything. I read what I could and with some patients that were willing guinea pigs, I slowly created a 29-page handout that answered every conceivable question—how to shop on a budget, how to find recipes, what to read, what to avoid, and what supplements should be taken—regarding a vegan diet. I became a doctor with a mission to obliterate every single objection a patient might have—and it worked!
 
How patients and doctors can benefit
As a family doctor, I have learned plants are more powerful than my prescription pad in treating chronic disease. I have also learned to love medicine once again, which is why I remain optimistic whenever I treat a patient with chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol, and obesity. I regularly have patients who have reduced their blood pressure and total cholesterol levels, improved and/or reversed type 2 diabetes, and lost significant amounts of weight in a relatively short period of time all because of a vegan diet. There are no medications that do this! I hope you encourage your doctor to educate themselves about the whole foods plant based doctor. You just might give them hope and save their career!
 
Laurie Marbas, MD, MBA is the medical director at Dr. Fuhrman’s Health Oasis in Boca Raton, FL.

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