Monday, January 23, 2012

Whole Health

by guest blogger Joseph Baker

Whole health starts with fresh fruits and vegetables
For many, eating healthy is little more than a New Year's Resolution that is quickly broken each year.  Indeed, in our hustle and bustle world, it is quite easy to get caught up in a cycle of eating out, or eating meals that aren't nutritious, and this is the death knell to any healthy diet. Additionally, if you go into something planning to only make moderate changes, then the likelihood of success is minimal at best.  Instead of taking such a short-sighted approach, it is best to completely overhaul your eating habits.
Plant-based nutrition has long been viewed as a healthier alternative to the traditional diet of animal-based products (meat and dairy). In addition to lowering your risk for coronary artery disease (CAD) and other chronic diseases, a plant-based diet that is rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables has been shown to have an inverse association with all-cause mortality.
Making such a drastic lifestyle change may be out of reach for some. Due to the prohibitive costs of whole foods and quality produce, many shy away from a plant-based diet. More and more sites are springing up on the Internet that offer deals, making these changes a little more affordable, but many would say that more can and should be done on the retailers' end to ensure that eating healthy is feasible for everyone, not just those who can afford it.

Apparently, Whole Foods Market agrees with this sentiment. In a TedMed talk, Whole Foods' CEO John Mackey discussed actions that Whole Foods has taken to educate employees on the importance of a plant-based, whole foods diet. In addition to a plant-based immersion program, which educates employees of the benefits of a plant-based diet and healthy lifestyle, Whole Foods also offers incentives to employees who show marked and consistent improvement in their overall health.
Mackey himself is an advocate of a plant-based diet, and is very knowledgeable about the benefits of such a lifestyle change: "Lifestyle changes can make a huge difference," he said. "This is a self-created problem and we have the capacity to heal it. The most preventable risk factors—unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and tobacco use—are the most preventable risk factors. […] If we eliminated these three risk factors, we could eliminate about 80 percent of heart disease, strokes and diabetes, and about 40 percent of all cancers. About 65 percent or more of premature deaths could be completely prevented."
The cornerstone of Whole Foods' program is educating employees about the four pillars of healthy eating: whole foods, plant strong, healthy fats, and nutrient dense. In addition, Whole Foods offers blood tests in their stores to employees, and employees who achieve objective health measurements are offered a higher employee discount rate than those who don't; these incentives are based upon four criteria: being a non-smoker, overall body mass index (BMI), healthy blood pressure, and healthy cholesterol levels. As of the date of Mackey's speech, some 7,555 Whole Foods team members had qualified for the incentives, and he predicted that number would double in the coming year.
Additionally, for "at-risk" team members—"those who are obese, those who have diabetes, those who have heart disease, those who have high blood pressure and high cholesterol"—a voluntary immersion program is offered. This program, which lasts from five to ten days, has already had "unbelievable" results: "We've had people lose 100 pounds in six months; we've had Type-2 diabetics go completely off their medication and be pronounced healed; we've seen heart disease reversed." About 700 team members went through this program in the first year it was offered, and due to its success, Whole Foods plans on doubling their efforts.
With such success, it may be a good idea for other companies to take note and consider implementing similar strategies with their own employees. If more people were educated about the benefits of a plant-based diet, then—in theory at least—such lifestyle changes would increase in popularity, which just might cause the cost of whole foods and produce to decrease, which could very well attract even more to this lifestyle. With such a domino effect set in motion, the overall health in America would improve exponentially.

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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!

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Photo credits:
Fruits & vegetables - Gila Brand (Wikimedia)
Whole Foods Market - LoneStarMike (Wikimedia

1 comment:

  1. Dustin, thanks for posting this article and video.

    Wow, I didn't recognize John Mackey! He's lost weight and looks years younger. I'm impressed.

    I think it's inovative and incredibly forward thinking of John to come up with this systemfor his employees and then put it into action. I'm sure He's getting a lot of these ideas from Rip Esselstyn. It was also smart of John to bring Rip into the company. I hope this sets a trend though I don't expect the major grocery chains to hop on this bandwagon. It's a great start and I wish all Whole Foods employees great health.

    I'm send this article to friends.

    Thanks again Dustin.


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