Tuesday, December 31, 2013

5 Prescriptions For Optimal Health (Plus a Bonus Tip)

We’ve become dependent on prescription medications in the U.S. This is a fact. A Mayo Clinic report published in July of 2013 says so. Over a 12-month period, 68.1% of all Americans received a prescription from at least 1 drug group, 51.6% received prescriptions from 2 or more drug groups, and 21.2% received prescriptions from five or more drug groups [1]. To say it another way, we’ve become a nation of pill poppers desperate for answers to our most pressing health concerns. 

Now turn back the clock a bit as I enlighten you with a glimpse into my personal background. At the turn of the 21st century, I found myself sitting in a university classroom trying with all my might not to nod off, as I gazed half asleep at my college professor lecturing intensely in the front of the room. He was describing in great detail how zero- and first-order kinetics of various types of drugs required separate algorithms to calculate their final half-lives and serum concentrations. (Now you understand why I was trying not to nod off!) Had I known back then that my professor’s valiant teaching efforts—well-intentioned as they may be—would largely prove inadequate in my efforts to bring health to others as a pharmacist, I would’ve undoubtedly found a different classroom to sit in. I was, however, naive to the point of understanding the actual shortcomings of the pharmaceutical world as they existed. And so I carried on.

It wasn’t until the age of 30 (8 years into my career) that I would learn the truth of how real health could be achieved. Drugs, for the most part, were certainly not the answer. Instead, a glance into the world of plant-based nutrition was all that I needed in my endeavors to rid the world of chronic disease. And so, with that being said, I present to you my five prescriptions for optimal health.

5 Prescriptions For Optimal Health

1) Overdose on Nature’s Skittles - Fruits and Vegetables
  • Eat as many fruits and vegetables as you can each day. There’s no overdoing it with this group.
  • Increasing fruit and vegetable consumption by just one serving a day has the potential to prevent a total of 20,000 cancer cases each year in the United States [2].
  • For each 1-serving per day increase in fruits and vegetables there is a 4% reduction in coronary heart disease (CHD). Make this serving a member of the green leafy vegetable family and the reduction in CHD goes up to a whopping 23% [3].
  • One serving size for most fruits and vegetables is 1/2 cup. For dark leafy greens a serving size is equal to 1 full cup. You can see how easy it is to get several servings of fruits and vegetables each day into your diet.

2)  Create Your Own Music - Beans, Beans, The Musical Fruit
  • Aim to get at least a half cup/day or more of legumes (beans, peas, lentils) in your diet.
  • Legumes help promote satiety, add fiber to the diet, and promote weight loss in individuals [4].
  • Legumes are also abundant in resistant starch, meaning the starch (carbohydrate) escapes digestion in the small intestine passing through, instead, to the large intestine. This makes beans and other legumes a low-glycemic food. An inverse association is seen with the consumption of legumes and type 2 diabetes [5].

3)  Fill Up The Tank - Whole Grains Are The Body’s Fuel
  • Include 5-6 servings per day of whole grains in your diet to fill up and slim down.
  • Whole grain products (cereals, brown rice, whole wheat products, etc.) are plentiful in calories and an excellent source of fuel for the body. These fiber-rich foods have not been shown to cause weight gain, as their consumption is inversely associated with BMI [6].
  • Whole grain consumption has also been shown to reduce the rates of cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancers, particularly gastric and colon cancers [7].

4)  Avoid Animal-Based Foods
  • Avoid all animal-based foods (meat, fowl, fish, dairy, and eggs).
  • All animal foods contain animal fat and animal protein which have been linked to higher rates of three of the most common forms of cancer—breast, prostate, and colon cancer [8,9].
  • Meat and dairy products are acidic foods. They force the body to use it’s own calcium supply to buffer this affect. This leads to weaker bones and the promotion of bone loss (up to 2-fold in some cases), increasing the incidence of osteoporosis [10,11].
  • Eggs spell trouble for your heart. Eating just one egg per day increases your risk of dying from heart disease by 2.5-fold compared to those eating 1 egg or less per week [12].

5)  Say No To Processed Foods
  • Processed foods are typically overloaded with three main ingredients—sugar, fat (oils), and salt. Their nutritional value is virtually nonexistent as they provide mostly empty calories responsible for weight gain and the promotion of various chronic diseases [13]. They should be avoided at all costs.

Bonus Tip

If at all humanely possible, avoid pharmacists! Disease is certain to follow, resulting in a lifetime of sickness and medication. I say this with the experience of being a pharmacist having never seen a single patient over the course of my career regain their long-term health by taking more and more pills. Unless your life literally depends on it drugs should serve as your last line of defense in your pursuit of optimal health. Over-the-counter and prescription drugs pose serious risks and even the possibility of increased risk of death in certain cases for those who use them.

These facts are highlighted in data supplied directly from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in its annual FDA Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS) Statistics summary. The FAERS report tallies the total number of deaths and serious outcomes due to the use of medications and therapeutic biologic products. Serious, according to the FDA, includes any of the following: death, hospitalization, life-threatening, disability, congenital anomaly and/or other serious outcome. The 2011 FAERS report revealed a total of 98,518 deaths and 573,111 serious outcomes due directly to the use of medications and biologic agents [14]. This makes medications the sixth leading cause of death in the United States right behind Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes [15]. You won’t find this on the official list of leading causes of death though. The CDC has left this fact (i.e. statistic) off for reasons unknown.

The lesson to be learned is, with few exceptions, health is a choice. Become an informed consumer. Learn and research about all the available options in achieving health and fighting disease in order to make the best informed decision possible for yourself. After all, the person with the greatest vested interest in your health is YOU! 

Stay healthy, be happy, and best of luck!

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by Dustin Rudolph, PharmD
Clinical Pharmacist

Check out Dustin Rudolph's book The Empty Medicine Cabinet to start your journey towards better health. This step-by-step guide leads you through many of today's common chronic diseases (heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, and more), giving you the facts on foods versus medications in treating these medical conditions. The book also contains an easy-to-follow guide on how to adopt a whole foods, plant-based diet as a part of an overall lifestyle change, producing the best possible health outcomes for you and your family. Hurry and get your copy today!

We'd love for you to join us in spreading the good word about plant-based nutrition and lifestyle medicine by telling your family and friends about our website at www.PlantBasedPharmacist.com

Share and rate this post below or tell us what you think by posting a comment. Thank you again for stopping by and until next time... be happy, be healthy, and live the life you've always dreamed of!

Photo credit: Freedigitalphotos.net

1 Zhong W, et al. Age and Sex Patterns of Drug Prescribing in a Defined American Population. Mayo Clin Proc. 2013 Jul;88(7):697-707.
2 Reiss R, et al. Estimation of cancer risks and benefits associated with a potential increased consumption of fruits and vegetables. Food Chem Toxicol. 2012 Dec;50(12):4421-7.
3 Joshipura KJ, et al. The effect of fruit and vegetable intake on risk for coronary heart disease. Ann Intern Med. 2001 Jun 19;134(12):1106-14.
4 McCrory MA, et al. Effectiveness of legume consumption for facilitating weight loss: a randomized trial. FASEB J. 2008 Mar;22:1084.8.
5 Villegas R, et al. Legume and soy food intake and the incidence of type 2 diabetes in the Shanghai Women's Health Study. Am J Clin Nutr 2008;87:162-167.
6 Gaesser GA. Carbohydrate quantity and quality in relation to body mass index. J Am Diet Assoc. 2007 Oct;107(10):1768-80. Review.
7 Slavin J, et al. hole-grain consumption and chronic disease: protective mechanisms. Nutr Cancer. 1997;27(1):14-21. Review.
8 Willett WC. Epidemiologic studies of diet and cancer. Med Oncol Tumor Pharmacother. 1990;7(2-3):93-7. Review.
9 Bessaoud F, et al. Dietary factors and breast cancer risk: a case control study among a population in Southern France. Nutr Cancer. 2008;60(2):177-87.
10 Marsh AG, et al. Cortical bone density of adult lacto-ovo-vegetarian and omnivorous women. J Am Diet Assoc. 1980 Feb;76(2):148-51.
11 Fujita T, Fukase M. Comparison of osteoporosis and calcium intake between Japan and the United States. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 1992 Jun;200(2):149-52.
12 Appleby PN, et al. The Oxford Vegetarian Study: an overview. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999 Sep;70(3 Suppl):525S-531S.
13 Monteiro CA, et al. Increasing consumption of ultra-processed foods and likely impact on human health: evidence from Brazil. Public Health Nutr. 2011 Jan;14(1):5-13.
14 U.S. Food and Drug Administration. FAERS Patient Outcomes By Year. Available: http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/Surveillance/AdverseDrugEffects/ucm070461.htm. Accessed 13 Aug 2013.
15 Hoyert DL, et al. Deaths: Preliminary Data for 2011. National Vital Statistics Report; vol 61 no 6. Hyattsville, MD: National Center For Health Statistics. 2012.


  1. Great Article Dustin! I love beans and lentils. They're a great cheap and nutritious food I can cook ahead of time for the week. However, I found I got really bloated from beans, and not just in my stomach. Any suggestions?

    1. Sometimes sprouting beans and lentils is a little easier in these regards.

  2. also putting a tiny pinch of baking soda in the soak water will help


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