The documentary ‘What the Health’ exposed how big pharma and food industry groups corrupt public health bodies with their generous donations. There was even a scene in which a hospital administrator was up front in making the point that the hospital derived its income from medical procedures not by giving health advice that might avoid the need for procedures. The donations and financial support from these industry groups is often indirect and very difficult to trace. While donations from meat, dairy, egg and pharmaceutical industries have a powerful influence, there are other reasons why your doctor does not recommend a whole foods plant-based diet for heart disease and your heart charity still recommends eggs as a heart healthy food.
Health professionals and health organisation leaders are real people with personal and cultural food habits and they do not want to hear bad news about these habits as this would damage their esteem and require difficult lifestyle changes. When we tried to introduce Cowspiracy concepts to a local environmental group we hit a wall that stopped them going beyond meat and dairy “in moderation”. A cancer organisation spokesperson responded to the 2015 WHO ‘processed meat is a class 1 carcinogen’ report by publicly stating that he would continue to eat bacon. Health organisations and their experts, like the rest of us, are inclined to save face. After years of arguing that eggs are heart healthy after all, it would be difficult for a heart charity to do an about face and tell us that eggs promote heart disease.
The main reason why more Australian health professionals are not prescribing plant-based diets is that they just don’t know. We wish that more would just find the NutritionFacts website or visit the PlantricianProject. However, in our current paradigm of lean protein and good fats, most would be incredulous of this information. Medical education articles now have even less emphasis on nutrition than they did 20 years ago and the medical media frequently ignores or distorts research that suggests that plant-based eating is optimal. For example, a couple of years ago they missed the discovery of a major new cardiac risk factor – TMAO (you can learn about it at NutritionFacts). It often seems that the experts who provide the medical education don’t know either, and are unaware of ground breaking research published in peer reviewed journals – reversing heart disease, stopping prostate cancer growth, and favourable modifying the gut microbiome in 3 days with a plant-based diet.
The stunning findings of the BROAD study - a randomised controlled trial in a community setting, where participants lost 11.5kg in 6 months (and kept it off at 12 months) with a low fat whole food plant-based diet and no portion control or exercise program - have not been reported in any Australian medical media since it was published in a peer reviewed journal two months ago, despite being a local (New Zealand) study. While this freshly published study was being ignored, there were editorials in the medical media suggesting that no diet is any better for weight loss, an industry-friendly view that has become more pervasive in mainstream nutrition.
If our health professionals understood the power of whole foods, plant-based nutrition and had tried it themselves, then no amount of industry funding would stop them from recommending it to their patients.