Recently, vegan doctors from the UK launched an online lifestyle medicine service based on plant-based nutrition that will offer patients access to nutritionists and registered dietitians along with helping them transition to a sustainable and healthier lifestyle.
Vegan medical doctors Shireen Kassam and Laura Freeman recently launched a healthcare service, Plant Based Health Online (PBHO), aimed at helping people improve their lifestyle habits and reduce the ill-effects of COVID-19.
The platform is the UK’s first of its kind online multidisciplinary lifestyle medicine service that is registered with the Care Quality Commission, England’s independent regulator of health and social care.
Patients on the platform will gain access to general practitioners (GPs), nutritionists, registered dietitians, personal trainers, a health coach and many more. The service will employ an evidence-based approach to healthcare that includes guiding patients into transitioning to an overall sustainable lifestyle with the inclusion of a plant-based diet, physical activity, restorative sleep and alleviation of psychological stress.
PBHO will be using plant-based nutrition as one of the tools to help patients regain their health, because we recognise that unhealthy diets are one of the top causes of ill health in the UK, and adopting a plant-based diet is one of the healthiest choices there is. We will meet patients wherever they may be on their journey to a healthier lifestyleDr Shireen Kassam, founder of PBHO
Dr Shireen Kassam, founder of Plant Based Health Professionals UK and a consultant hematologist, highlighted the lack of focus on promoting good health during the pandemic, thus highlighting the vulnerabilities of the UK population.“PBHO will be using plant-based nutrition as one of the tools to help patients regain their health because we recognize that unhealthy diets are one of the top causes of ill health in the UK, and adopting a plant-based diet is one of the healthiest choices there is. We will meet patients wherever they may be on their journey to a healthier lifestyle.”
Presently, NHS spends GBP£14 billion (US$19 billion) on diabetes treatment annually, and in a separate report, a poor diet has been attributed to be a bigger mortality risk than smoking.
Conducted by Public Health England, a recent survey that interviewed over 5,000 adults showed that 7 in 10 adults are motivated by the coronavirus pandemic to switch to a healthier lifestyle.
PBHO will also work in tandem with services provided by the NHS or private healthcare providers. Offering an integrated service, recommendations received by a patient from a consultation on the platform will be shared with the patient’s GP or other healthcare professionals.
Dr Freeman, a dual licensed GP and certified lifestyle medicine doctor who is a cancer survivor herself explained how a lifestyle medicine approach has the potential to prevent as well as treat several chronic conditions affecting people in the UK, for instance, high blood pressure and cholesterol, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and certain cancers. “With a focus on evidence-based dietary and lifestyle advice, we can promote improved physical and emotional health – whether a patient is a plant-based eater or otherwise. Not only will this create a convenient and easily accessible service to boost patient wellbeing, but it will also help us play our part in reducing chronic disease in the UK.”
This approach will also allow the platform to educate other healthcare professionals on the significant benefits of a plant-based diet.
Dr Kassam added that most doctors lack education in nutrition and are not confident about offering nutritional care.”Most doctors are unaware of the extensive benefits of a whole food plant-based diet. By communicating with the patient’s GP – with their consent – we will use this as an opportunity to help educate our colleagues and hope that by doing so, we can share our evidence-based recommendations while increasing awareness of the power of plant-based nutrition and lifestyle medicine.”
Presently, consultations with medical doctors are available only to those residing in the UK. However, appointments with partner health practitioners are open to people anywhere in the world, except the U.S. and Canada.
With a focus on evidence-based dietary and lifestyle advice, we can promote improved physical and emotional health – whether a patient is a plant-based eater or otherwise. Not only will this create a convenient and easily accessible service to boost patient wellbeing, but it will also help us play our part in reducing chronic disease in the UKDr Laura Freeman, Dual licensed GP and certified lifestyle medicine doctor
Prices start at GBP£165 (approx. US$225), an introductory fee that includes a 45-minute consultation with a healthcare professional of the patient’s choice as well as a 15-minute follow up. Appointments for video consultations are made by a secure, GDPR-compliant platform, Heydoc.
According to Dr Kassam, the platform’s next step involve becoming an established National Health Service (NHS) resource to be able to secure funding or commissioning from the NHS.”This will help widen our accessibility to patients. We’re aware that currently, chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and dementia are increasing rapidly and this places a heavy burden on the NHS as well as the people living with these conditions. We will work towards alleviating some of this pressure by providing a healthcare approach that is proactive and gets to the root cause of many of these diseases.”
In a recent Harvard study, researchers confirmed that all our nutritional needs can be satisfied without eating meat and sticking to plant-based alternatives that are not only more environmentally optimal, but also conserve more protein and energy than conventional meat.
While veganism is often portrayed as a liberal leaning, the launch of the Vegan Conservatives group in the U.K. to promote plant-based diets for health, animal welfare and sustainability shows health is a bipartisan issue. The new group has already received the support of ten MPs who pledged to participate in the 2021 Veganuary campaign and go completely plant-based for 31 days.
Lead image courtesy of pressfoto/freepik.